05/05/2011, 00.00
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Chinese police arrest one human rights lawyer as they release another

In a script already seen, lawyer Li Xiongbing called his wife to say he "will be gone" a few days, then disappears. Yesterday the lawyer Li Fangping came home, "kidnapped" by police for five days. China continues its systematic repression of human rights defenders.

Beijing (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Human rights lawyer Li Fangping, lawyer of 'came home last night, after 5 days of arrest without charge. But also yesterday another activist Li Xiongbing went "missing".

According to a now familiar "procedure", yesterday afternoon Li Xiongbing phoned his wife Wu Haiying to tell her that it would be " away for a few days” and since then she has had no news of him. Shortly before his disappearance he had an appointment with the police, for reasons related to his profession as a lawyer. He has defended democracy and human rights activists, like Yang Chunlin and Yuan Xianchen, victims of religious persecution.

Since mid-February is the worst persecution since 1998 has been taking place in China against those who defend human rights, with hundreds of arrests and threats and dozens of "disappearances" without formal charges. Many of these activists were released after days and weeks, awaiting trial, and usually say they "do not want to talk about" their detention. Experts speculate that this "silence" is among the conditions for their release. The repression is aimed at  jasmine Revolution style protests, which are shaking North Africa and the Middle East.

Li Fangping, another prominent lawyer, had disappeared on April 29, after phoning his wife to warn her. Two days ago he called her again, saying he was fine and still had "business" to attend to that day. Last night he came home, but declined to give other news. Li defended, among others, Zhao Lianhai, Hu Jia, and the blind activist Chen Guangcheng.

Wan Yanhai, founder of Aizhixing, advocacy group for AIDS patients, who emigrated to the United States about a year ago as a result of continuing threats suffered in China, said that authorities now target lawyers who defend the activists, forcing them into silence.

Meanwhile the group Chinese Human Rights Defenders reports that rights activist Xue Mingkai from Qufu (Shandong), has been charged with allegedly "inciting subversion of state power".  Xue was arrested in February and since then detained at the prison in Jining. So far nothing had been communicated to the family. Xue was in jail 18 months from May 2009 to November 2010 for "subversion of state power" after he, a migrant worker in Shenzhen, had tried to organize the "Democratic Workers' Party of China."

Among the many missing is the famous artist Ai Weiwei, whose arrest has provoked an international outcry. Yesterday, the New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg visited the exhibition of some of his works (pictured), a bronze sculpture called "Circle of Animals / Zodiac heads" representing the 12 Chinese zodiac animals, set in Manhattan. The exhibition will travel to London, Los Angeles and elsewhere in the U.S..
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