04/02/2011, 00.00
CHINA

More than 200 arrests to quell the "jasmine revolution" in China

Human rights groups agree: the country has in place the worst crackdown since 1998. Dozens of Democrats arrested or disappeared. Alluding to the jasmine revolution, seeking justice or defending those who can not pay for free, is enough to get you arrested.

Beijing (AsiaNews / Agencies) - More than 200 democracy activists under house arrest and at least 26 in prison, many without charge or on trumped-up charges, more than 30 people who have "disappeared", many more on probation pending trial, with very serious allegations . This data confirms for "certain" the repression taking place in China, the worst at least since 1998 according to the groups for the protection of rights.  Beijing wants to stamp out all dissent, for fear of not being able to control the Internet and prevent a jasmine revolution.

The crackdown began in mid-February, when the protests broke out in North Africa. China has a similar social situation (lack of respect for human rights, police control on society, widespread poverty, corruption, dictatorship) and was terrified by the anonymous call to the people, posted on line, to take to the streets for peaceful protests. As a reaction Beijing began to imprison all noted dissenters, close down blogs, hunt down critical journalists.

The situation is worse than before the 2008 Olympics, because now the authorities do not only want to silence dissidents for some time, rather they want to silence them entirely. To be questioned by police and put on trial for "subversion" or "inciting subversion", an offense that carries a life sentence, all that is needed is for you to have written on the Internet about the Jasmine revolution or criticize the government.

Beijing appears to want to "close the accounts" forever with those who supported the Tiananmen Square movement, and still have not surrendered after more than 20 years. March 25, Lin Xianbin was sentenced to 10 years in prison for "inciting subversion" on the Internet for having welcomed the Jasmine revolution. To mention only a few who are in prison for "subversion" Chen Wei, Ding Mao, Ran Yunfei, Li Hai, all leaders of the student movement in 1989 that have already spent many years in prison. Ran is also the author of a very popular blog.

The case of the Christian lawyer Gao Zhisheng is clamorous.  He was taken away by uniformed people over a year ago, incarcerated and tortured in prison. Recently, also a United Nations body called for his immediate release.

Lawyers Tang Jitian, Jiang Tianyong (pictured) and Teng Biao, who tried to defend human rights, have been tortured in prison. Also in jail is the lawyer Li Shuangde who has repeatedly defended for free those who can not pay.

Simple bloggers, the detainees Cheng Wanyun, Guo Weidong, Hua Chunhui, Liang Haiyi, Wei Qiang: on the internet have spoken positively about the Jasmine revolution or published information or films.

"Disappeared" for over a month, Teng Biao, Zhou Li, Ceng Renguang, Gu Chuan, Hu Di, Jiang Tianyong, Li Tiantian, Liu Anjuna, Liu Dejun and others.

But in China today it is also a crime to ask for justice. Quan Lianzhao is in jail since Feb. 26 for having petitioned for four years for the forced expropriation of land in his village. Tan Lanying is held from 21 February for 17 years to protest the forcible demolition of her house.

Wang Songlian from group for the protection of rights Chinese Human Rights Defenders said that activists now live "in fear". "Nobody knows when this will end, nobody knows who is next." "Every day someone disappears, is taken away, detained or accused."

Nicolas Bequelin of Human Rigths Watch notes that Beijing is afraid of the Internet, which it can not control despite strict censorship. For this reason through these arrests, it hopes to "remove the critical voices, instil self-censorship of the Internet and block sites", many of which have large followings.

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12/12/2008
Chen Wei, Tiananmen and "jasmine revolution"activist, jailed for 9 years
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The "usual" Chinese policy: dissidents arrested ahead of National People's Congress
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