09/21/2009, 00.00
CHINA
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Students take to the streets in Beijing to protest arbitrary arrest of their professor

Prof Ding Xiaoping was a student leader during the 1989 protest in Tiananmen Square. Students today protest his unmotivated arrest last Saturday. The authorities have not yet said anything about it. For some analysts, the incident is due to Beijing’s policy of removing dissidents and rights activists ahead of the PRC’s 1 October anniversary.
Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – More than a hundred students demonstrated on Sunday outside the Haidian district police precinct in Beijing to demand the release of Prof Ding Xiaoping, a  former leader of the pro-democracy student movement during the 1989 Tiananmen Square demonstrations  (pictured: a street protest on 4 May 1989), which ended in thousands of peaceful demonstrators slaughtered by the military. He spent three years in prison for his participation in those protests. Students complain that the professor’s arrest was unmotivated and arbitrary.

Initially, police allowed some students to enter the precinct for talks, but later forced them to disperse, beating some in the process. The authorities have neither confirmed nor denied Prof Ding’s detention.

Ding, who is popular among students, “was taken away for political reasons,” on Saturday around noon, university graduate and former Ding student Yu Zhiwei told the South China Morning Post. “The police want to limit his activity,” he added.

As soon as they got wind of the arrest, students met in front of the police station to protest, which did again yesterday. “The students will not tolerate seeing their teacher being bullied by police,” Yu said.

Many analysts believe he was detained to prevent him from posing a threat to the upcoming celebration of the sensitive 60th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China.

For the past several months, the authorities have been removing or sending away Beijing dissidents or human rights activists, perhaps fearing they might take part in public protests at a time when the world’s attention will be on China with many foreign dignitaries attending.

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