Wave of Detentions Sweeps China Around Anniversary


2004-06-11
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Several hundred former student leaders and political activists across China are thought to have been detained, placed under house arrest, or made to suffer other forms of harassment and abuse around the 15th anniversary of the bloody crackdown on the Tiananmen Square pro-democracy movement, RFA's Mandarin service reports.

"Most importantly we're talking about the limiting of personal freedom of movement, including detentions, kidnappings and house arrest," Internet author Ren Bomei told RFA in an interview. "The other kind of freedom that's been affected is the freedom of expression, including access to news and information, some have had their telephone cut off, or they can't get on the Internet."

Ren, who recently submitted a report on the detentions to China's top prosecution body, the Supreme People's Procuratorate, said some Web sites with material related to the June 4, 1989 crackdown and other politically sensitive topics had been shut down by the authorities, including his own.

"Some Internet Web sites have also been closed. Some people have also suffered abuse, like warnings that take the form of harassment. There is no legal basis for this action," said Ren, whose report called for a full investigation into all the cases cited, which are thought to number several hundred.

"These things are a bit like a return to the mass political movements of the Cultural Revolution [1966-76] era. As soon as it gets to some sensitive time, then the fundamental concept of the rule of law just gets destroyed. For a so-called 'need,' these politically sensitive people receive unequal and unjust treatment," Ren told RFA.

Dissident Che Hongyan, who is based in Jinan city, in the eastern province of Shandong, said he was taken by local police on the evening of June 2 to a police-run guest-house 50 kms(30 miles) outside the city and held there until his release at midday on June 5.

Che told RFA: "On the evening of June 3 I said to them that I wanted to light candles, but they walked out on me, so I went to the concierge and asked for candles, and they got very nervous and said they didn't have any."

He said two police officers also tried to prevent him from fasting for a day on June 4 in commemoration of those who died in the crackdown by People's Liberation Army troops on unarmed civilians.

"During my fast, a couple of them dragged me to the dining room, trying to stop me from fasting, trying to use law against me, saying that there had been a new directive from central government making it illegal to commemorate the 15th anniversary of June 4."

"I asked them under what law it was illegal to commemorate the dead, whether they were willing to take responsibility for what they were saying. They didn't dare to say anything after that, but they left a guy there to keep an eye on me."

While most of those affected by the anniversary clampdown had returned to their homes by June 6, a handful remained unaccounted for, Ren said. Among them was Nanjing-based Web author Yan Tianshui. His mobile phone carried a message saying "The user is outside the network, or has turned off their phone" when contacted by RFA.

Among the most prominent voices calling for a reassessment of the official verdict of counter-revolutionary rebellion surrounding the crackdown was Tiananmen mother Ding Zilin, who was kept under house arrest at her Beijing home days ahead of the anniversary.

And a doctor who was feted by official media last year for exposing the health authorities' cover-up of the extent of the SARS problem, Jiang Yanyong, has disappeared from his Beijing home together with his wife, his U.S.-based daughter said. She said she feared the authorities were preparing subversion charges against Jiang, who also called recently for the official verdict on the Tiananmen massacre to be reassessed.

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