Chinese authorities in southeastern China have unlawfully detained a political dissident for more than one month while the fates of two other activists who disappeared in early March are still unknown, according to their family members and friends.
On March 5, authorities in Hangzhou, the capital of Zhejiang province, detained government critic Zhu Yufu on charges of inciting subversion of state power, an accusation usually made against political dissidents.
But as of Monday, Zhu was being held illegally, according to Chinese legal provisions that stipulate police must either release or formally arrest a detainee within 37 days.
“We have received no news about him,” said Jiang Hangli, Zhu’s wife. “We haven’t even received formal paperwork on his detention. The police simply told us.”
“Several days ago, someone forwarded a message from my husband saying that he wants a lawyer to represent him.”
“We are working on this now. But it is not that easy to find such an attorney locally, because to represent a client like him, we need special government approval,” added Jiang.
Meanwhile, as of Monday, authorities had provided no information on the whereabouts of activists Wei Shuishan and Xue Mingkai. Both were rounded up by police in Zhejiang at the same time Zhu Yufu was taken away.
Political dissident Zou Wei called on the authorities to release all three of the detainees.
“We noticed that the authorities have recently released several activists who were taken away in connection with the ‘Jasmine’ protests,” he said, referring to gatherings in Chinese cities that drew inspiration from recent Middle Eastern uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia.
“We request that they immediately free Zhu Yufu, Wei Shuishan, and Xue Mingkai as well.”
Zou himself was recently summoned by police who questioned him about the activities of the three.
China has detained lawyers, journalists, bloggers, and other activists since online protest appeals began circulating in China in mid-February.
In a separate development, police detained more than 100 members of the Christian Shouwang Church in Beijing on Sunday. The house church is home to one of Beijing’s largest congregations.
According to the Texas-based religious watchdog China Aid Association, police accused the church members of engaging in “unapproved religious activities.”
It said police interrogated the detainees, took down their personal information, and fingerprinted them.
Some of the church members were ordered to write statements of repentance, though many refused and were not released until well after midnight.
By Monday morning all Shouwang church members had been freed except for a pastor, his wife, and one female worshiper, China Aid said.
Staff member Yuan Ling said people prefer to join family churches, such as Shouwang Church, because they “enjoy more freedom than in officially sanctioned churches.”
“In the official churches, there are topics that are prohibited from discussion during biblical studies. For example, they don’t talk very much about doomsday,” Yuan said.
Original reporting by Ding Xiao and Tang Qiwei for RFA’s Mandarin service. Translated by Ping Chen. Written in English by Joshua Lipes.