06/03/2011, 00.00
CHINA

To commemorate the 4 June massacre, China arrests other dissidents

Ahead of the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, many activists and democrats have been put under house arrest or have disappeared. Since February, Beijing has arrested hundreds of dissidents, fearing Jasmine Revolution-style protests.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) - China is arresting dissidents and democrats ahead of the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, which occurred on 4 June 1989 when the army fired on peaceful demonstrators, killing thousands. Since February, the worst repression against dissidents since 1998 has been seen.

Dissident He Depu and writer Liu Di have recently been put under house arrest, under strict surveillance, as reported by the advocacy group Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD). On 1 June, Beijing dissident Cha Jianguo was "warned" by security forces not to write articles or conduct media interviews around 4 June. Officers and vehicles were stationed downstairs from his home. Many other activists in Beijing, says CHRD, have been warned not to write about the massacre or take part in any gatherings around the anniversary, such as Xia Yeliang, a professor of economics at Peking University. Internet blogger Zhang Chao was questioned for hours by police on 30 May.

Also on 1 June, Zhao Lianhai, rights defender for babies sickened from the tainted milk scandal, was stopped by police in Beijing while he was walking with his family. He was held for four hours in a snack bar without explanation. Once they returned home, he discovered that the electricity was cut.

The dissident Gao Hongming has "disappeared" as well as Guiyang activists Chen Xi, Liao Shuangyuan and Wu Yuqin.

But arrests and intimidations are taking place throughout China. On 31 May police took dissident Zhang Jiankang from his home in Xi'an, Shaanxi, for a “trip.” On 2 June, Chengdu artist Chen Yunfei was put under house arrest, as well as Qin Yongmin of Wuhan. Li Renke of Guiyang was taken by police to "go on a trip" out of town. Writer Dang Guan of Anhui was stopped by police while on his way to Guangzhou, and brought back. On 30 May, police interrogated He Shilin, an independent candidate for the local people’s congress from Hangzhou.

Added to these are hundreds of dissidents arrested since mid-February out of fear that China will see its own Jasmine Revolution. Many of them are still in prison or under house arrest, others have been held for weeks without charge and without the opportunity to defend themselves. Others have "disappeared" - kidnapped by police and detained for days, and even weeks. CHRD says it is unable to contact those who were arrested and later released. The area around the house of activist Chen Guangcheng in Shuanghou, Linnan County, Linyi City, has been blocked since his release from prison in September 2010. It is still cordoned off by police.

On 1 June, the human rights activist Li Shuangde (pictured), detained since March, was convicted following a 20-minute trial, four months in prison and a fine of 20 thousand yuan for "credit card fraud." Ran Tong, Li's lawyer, considered the accusation "unfounded," but before the trial Li was released and officials told Ran that Li had pleaded guilty.

 

The repression continues against those who defend civil rights. The petitioner Feng Dacheng, of Fangchenggang (Guangxi), was arrested for "obstructing official business" while traveling to Beijing to present a petition against requisition of land in his village. During clashes between residents and the police over the requisition on 21 April 2010, Feng was shot 11 times with rubber bullets and spent 40 days in hospital.

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