Pressure Rises on Activists

Chinese authorities crack down on political activists in the lead-up to the Nobel award ceremony.
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Zhu Zhengming's bicycle shop was searched by authorities, Dec. 3, 2010.
Zhu Zhengming's bicycle shop was searched by authorities, Dec. 3, 2010.
Photo appears courtesy of a human rights activist

Political activists across China are under intense pressure from police ahead of the Nobel award ceremony for jailed dissident Liu Xiaobo in Oslo next week, with several opposition party founders warned to stay away from political activities.

Zhu Zhengming, who recently applied in the eastern city of Hangzhou to stage a march calling for sweeping political reforms and the release of Liu, said officials had searched his business premises on Friday.

"Four people came," said Zhu. "They said they had come to investigate me from the Qianjiang Industrial and Commercial Bureau ... After they'd finished taking pictures, they went through a lot of my stuff."

Zhu said he had managed to salvage some of his belongings, including his computer, but that the officials had taken a number of items including the account books for his bicycle repair business.

Zhu said he saw the investigation as directly linked to the application for the march, which he made alongside fellow members of the banned opposition China Democracy Party (CDP) earlier this week.

"We have all been living a quiet life, concentrating on earning a living," said Zhu, referring to Hangzhou-based activists Wu Yilong, Zhu Yufu, Wang Rongqing, Mao Qingxiang, and Chen Shuqing.

"We have all served our time in prison," he said. "If the government won't let me repair bicycles, then I guess I'll have to go and repair the government."

CDP member Wu Yilong said on Tuesday he had helped to file the application to stage a rally and march on Dec. 10, the day of the Nobel award ceremony in Oslo.

All six men have now been warned to stay away from political activities, Wu said.

"The police have told us that the demonstration will never be approved, and that if we try to do it again, there will be consequences," he added.

Zhu said he had been asked to go back to the police station on Monday.

Sticky business

Meanwhile, Beijing-based rights lawyer Jiang Tianyong said someone had poured superglue into the lock of his family's front door.

"This is the fourth time that this has happened," Jiang said, adding that he believes the authorities are using covert tactics to put pressure on him in the absence of legal channels through which to pursue him.

"They try to threaten you, and have 'chats' with you ... This is harassment of my entire family," Jiang said.

"Its aim is to cause a great deal of inconvenience. They don't care how much it costs, nor about the inconvenience of not being able to get into your house for such a long time, especially with a kid."

"I didn't catch them doing it ... But I am pretty sure it was them," Jiang said.

Wuhan-based Qin Yongmin said he was also under surveillance from bugs and security cameras near his home, following his release this week from a 12-year jail term for his involvement with the CDP and a human rights newsletter.

"Back when I was running the China Human Rights Monitor, they rented rooms opposite my home and the shop space where I did the Human Rights Monitor work," Qin said.

"Now, they have bugs and surveillance equipment near my home," he said. "This is much more civilized."

Qin said he would continue to oppose authoritarian rule in China, however.

"I am the last counterrevolutionary in contemporary China," he said.

"But I also reject the use of violence to overthrow the Communist Party. I would like to use nonviolence, peaceful means to oppose the authoritarian system and take China along the path to democracy," Qin said.

The attempt by Chinese political activists to set up the CDP by applying for a permit from Hangzhou's Communist Party civil affairs bureau ended in December 1998 with the sentencing of three of the group's founders to lengthy jail terms.

Zhejiang dissident Wang Youcai, Wuhan-based Qin, and Beijing-based Xu Wenli were sentenced respectively to 11, 12, and 13 years in prison on charges of “instigation to subvert state power."

Also sentenced were Sichuan-based Liu Xianbin, Beijing-based Zha Jianguo, and Hangzhou-based Zhu Yufu, Chen Shuqing, and Wu Yilong, all since released, though Liu Xianbin has been re-detained.

Wang and Xu now live in the United States after being released on medical parole.

Reported by Qiao Long for RFA's Mandarin service and by Lin Jing for RFA's Cantonese service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.





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