Chinese Police Jail Activists For 'Troublemaking' Over June 4 Anniversary


2015.06.05
china-paramilitary-guards-tiananmen-square-june3-2015.jpg Paramilitary guards walk up steps leading to Tiananmen Square in Beijing a day before the 26th anniversary of the crackdown on pro-democracy protests, June 3, 2015.
AFP

Chinese authorities have detained a number of activists across the country in recent days for online comments and activities linked to the 26th anniversary of the June 4, 1989 crackdown on the student-led democracy movement.

Authorities in the northern port city of Tianjin detained rights activist Wang Jian on Wednesday after he made comments related to the anniversary online.

"They detained him at around 8 p.m. on June 3 without any formalities," Wang's friend Wang Liang told RFA on Friday. "The family is now waiting for a special delivery letter detailing the reasons for his detention."

He said Wang's wife had been told by police at the local police station on Friday that her husband had already been formally arrested.

"I think [they could do this quickly] because his status was out on bail," Wang Liang added.

Wang Liang said Wang Jian had written a post commemorating the June 4 massacre "some time ago."

"I know he wrote a post a while back, but I don't know if it was published," he said. "But he did write on that topic."

Wang was initially detained on suspicion of "picking quarrels and stirring up trouble," then released on bail on March 13 after he showed support of Suzhou evictee Fan Mugen.

He was later redetained for continuing his activism in support of Fan, and held for a 10-day administrative sentence.

Wang Jian's wife, Lu Xiaoqing, said she still hasn't received the letter, however.

"They said he had been formally arrested on June 3," Lu said. "I asked them the reason, and they didn't tell me. They just said ... it had already gone to the prosecution."

‘Disturbing public order’

In the southwestern region of Guangxi, veteran Lu Hengxian was jailed by Nanning police on a 10-day administrative sentence after he began a hunger strike with dozens of other dissidents to mark Thursday's anniversary of the June 4, 1989 bloodshed.

Lu's wife, who gave only her surname Liang, said he was held on suspicion of "making trouble, and disturbing public order."

Lu had planned to lead more than a dozen fellow activists in a 24-hour symbolic hunger strike to remember those who died when the People's Liberation Army (PLA) used machine guns and tanks to put an end to weeks of student-led mass protests and hunger strikes on Tiananmen Square.

"He was placed under administrative detention today," Liang said on Friday. "They came round and searched our home yesterday, at around 8:40 p.m."

"Four people came, and they took away a computer and a video camera," she said.

And in the central city of Wuhan, 1989 democracy movement veteran Zhang Yi was taken away by police after he arranged to meet with friends for a meal to mark the anniversary.

He was later released, and spoke to RFA from his home on Friday morning.

"There were [four] friends of mine planning to eat together near my house, and the police came, six of them," said Zhang, who is technically out on police bail following his detention last year on public order charges.

"They took me down to the police station and took two statements."

"They asked me if I had written anything rebellious ... [and also] if I had spread any rumors," Zhang said. "I refused to reply and remained silent the whole time."

"No summons was issued; it was a verbal summons," said Zhang, a graduate of Wuhan University's prestigious law department who served a two-year jail term for his leadership of the 1989 protests in the city.

"They told me they didn't know [what I was supposed to have written] and that they were asking at the request of the state security police," he said.

Zhang said such close-up "stability maintenance" tactics have only been used by police since President Xi Jinping came to power in November 2012.

"This didn't happen before ... Now, the police call me up and pretend to be concerned for my welfare, which has now morphed into a monthly visit to my home, where they take photos," Zhang said.

"Then I got mad at them and said they were out of line ... then they installed two security cameras at the entrance of my apartment complex ... and lately they also installed them at the entrance to my workplace," he said.

In neighboring Hunan province, authorities detained online author Zhou Yahua, known by his pen-name Yan Ba, on Thursday afternoon.

Last year, Zhou was placed under 10 days' administrative detention, a form of punishment handed down by police without the need for a trial, also around the time of the June 4 anniversary.

Zhou had earlier posted an article online titled: "On this day in 1989, many Chinese university students were gunned down and killed on Tiananmen Square by the Chinese army," his friend, who gave only a surname, Ren, told RFA.

"They took him to the police station ... and he is now being held in the Jinshan Detention Center," Ren said. "He is being held for one week."

"If he promises to do as the state security police tell him, and not to send out any more articles [like that], they will release him immediately," he said.

"But he refused to cooperate."

Under police surveillance

The latest detentions come as dozens of dissidents and rights activists across the country are currently under police surveillance, with some forced to go on "vacation" away from their hometowns with state security police until after the sensitive anniversary.

Thirteen people remain behind bars for marking the 25th anniversary of the bloodshed last year, according to the overseas-based Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD) network, which collates reports from rights groups inside China.

They include veteran political journalist Gao Yu, jailed for seven years in April for "leaking state secrets overseas," and prominent rights lawyer Pu Zhiqiang, who faces up to 10 years' imprisonment for each of the ethnic hatred and public order charges against him.

However, authorities have also cracked down on more covert forms of protest, including the transfer of small amounts of money containing the numbers 6 and 4, activists told RFA.

"I sent a payment to a friend, and apparently even those numbers scare them," online activist Xiucai Jianghu said on Friday.

"There are no lengths the authorities won't go to to stop people even thinking about June 4," he said.

Hunan online activist Zhouzhou Zhuzhou he had had similar experiences.

"For example, I wanted to send 0.64 yuan [10 U.S. cents] to everyone, or 6.40 yuan [U.S. $1], and it wouldn't let me do it in multiples of 10, but it did let me do it 11 times," he said.

"As long as it doesn't add up to six and four, it's OK," he said. "This has been confirmed by other friends of mine."

He said he had played around on social media sites trying to get a reference to the anniversary through the censors.

"Once in a while on WeChat, Weibo or QQ ... something would get through," he said. "But then ... I found they had closed my accounts.

"Later, the police came round, armed with guns, to check my ID. They told me I should leave Changsha."

Reported by Qiao Long and Xin Lin for RFA's Mandarin Service, and by Hai Nan for the Cantonese Service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.

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