China Detains Activist Demanding Rehabilitation of Zhao Ziyang

china-zhao-ziyang-may-1989.jpg Zhao Ziyang (C) addresses the Tiananmen Square student hunger strikers in Beijing, May 19, 1989.

Authorities in the Chinese capital have detained a political activist who called publicly for the rehabilitation of late ousted reform-minded premier Zhao Ziyang, fellow activists said on Tuesday.

Veteran Beijing-based activist Li Jinping, who has campaigned on behalf of Zhao's name for more than a decade, was taken away on Monday by police.

"He wants them to clear Zhao Ziyang's name, and also to reappraise the verdict on the 1989 Tiananmen crackdown," retired Shandong University professor Sun Wenguang, a close friend of Li's, told RFA.

"He usually carries out some activities during the parliamentary sessions, such as putting up a banner on Tiananmen Square," Sun said, adding that Li was incommunicado on Tuesday.

"The biggest likelihood is that he has been detained by the authorities," he said.

China's ruling Communist Party has continued to ignore growing calls in China and from overseas for a reappraisal of the 1989 student protests, which it once styled a "counterrevolutionary rebellion."

Fall from power

Zhao Ziyang fell from power in the wake of the military crackdown on the protests amid accusations that he took too conciliatory a line with the students.

Zhao, who died 10 years ago on Jan. 17, is rarely mentioned in public, and his name and image have been removed from many official publications.

Meanwhile, thousands of people with complaints against the government have converged on Beijing ahead of China's annual parliamentary sessions this week, rights activists said.

The authorities have deployed hundreds of officials from regional representative offices in Beijing, known as interceptors, to detain anyone from their region who seeks to lodge a formal complaint, the Sichuan-based rights website Tianwang reported.

A Gansu petitioner surnamed Chang said petitioners find it increasingly hard to evade the interceptors ahead of the National People's Congress (NPC) and Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) sessions this week.

"Parliament is in session, and they are afraid of any incidents of any kind," Chang said. "All government departments will be involved in interception work."

"We are afraid that they'll force us back home, so I have been hiding outside the city," he said. "I can go out in the daytime, but I take my SIM card out of my phone at night, because they can use it to locate you."

Tense atmosphere

Hubei petitioner Wang Yan said she was intercepted along with five petitioners from Hong Kong at the Beijing southern railway station, and told to leave.

"The atmosphere is very tense in Beijing today," Wang said.

"By 8.00 a.m. I had already seen several busloads of police go into the city, and they are doing total checks, stop and search."

"There are a lot of petitioners outside [government headquarters in] Zhongnanhai and on Tiananmen Square," she said, adding that police are detaining them and sending them to unofficial detention centers on the outskirts of the capital.

"Petitioners from all over the country are being herded into Jiujingzhuang and Majialou," Wang said.

Petitions rejected

Cai Yaguang, a petitioner from the northeastern province of Heilongjiang, said he had tried to hand in a petition alongside hundreds of others at the state complaints office near the Great Hall of the People, where a parliamentary advisory body began its annual session on Tuesday.

"They didn't want to accept it to begin with, and they didn't want to deal with it," Cai said. "They said they had no jurisdiction, and that all we could do was write a letter."

Petitioners said security measures surrounding the NPC have seemed to increase, year on year.

"There have been so many interceptors in recent years," a petitioner from the northeastern province of Liaoning, Li Chunhua, told RFA.

"They are standing shoulder-to-shoulder all along the main streets around the [Supreme People's] Court," she said. "There are at least 1,000 of them."

"They chase people to stop them petitioning and beat them up ... it's a form of white terror," Li said.

Reported by Wen Yuqing and Lin Jing for RFA's Cantonese Service, and by Xin Lin for the Mandarin Service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.

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