09/01/2008, 00.00
CHINA
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Activist sent to labour camp for talking to journalist

An activist is sentenced for “disturbing the social order”. Beijing had promised foreign journalists complete freedom of the press for most of the year. Reverend Zhang (aka ‘Bike’) has been freed, but he is still banned from Beijing and cannot meet journalists.
Beijing (AsiaNews/CHRD) – Human rights activist Wang Guilan was sentenced to 15 months of Re-education through Labour for “disturbing the social order.” A Protestant clergyman held during the Olympic Games has been freed but is not allowed to travel to Beijing until after the Paralympics. 

Wang Guilan of Enshi (Hubei) was arrested on 29 July and held in the city prison for talking to a foreign journalist a few days before the Olympics. Charged with “disturbing the social order” she learnt of her sentence last Friday.

For the Games China had promised to grant foreign journalists greater freedom from 1 January 2008 till after the Olympics, giving them the opportunity to travel anywhere they wanted or interviewing anyone they chose.

In fact press controls never ended. For instance the Beijing-based foreign press association recorded at least 300 cases of violence against foreign journalists.

In the meantime, Rev Zhang Mingxuan, a Protestant clergyman nicknamed ‘Bike’, and his wife were freed in Henan, this according to the China Aid Association. Both were picked up on 6 August and forced to leave Beijing so that he could not talk to the foreign press. Reverend Zhang is well known to US media.

Despite their release, both husband and wife are still banned from the capital until after the Paralympics which are scheduled to close on 17 September.

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