10/18/2021, 13.06
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Beijing, 14 activists want to run in provincial assembly elections

by Lu Haitao

They have posted an election manifesto with their phone numbers on the web. The group of independent candidates includes family members of human rights lawyers and petitioners. They promise to represent ordinary people. Authorities unnerved by the move.

Beijing (AsiaNews) - At least 14 humanitarian activists want to participate in the elections for the renewal of the provincial assembly in the capital. Their joint announcement comes as counties and municipalities prepare for local elections.

The independent candidates include family members of lawyers arrested in the 2015 "709" security operation (as it began on July 9). They have posted an election manifesto online - with their phone numbers - and promised to be "the representatives who can be reached by ordinary people."

Signatories include Wang Qiaoling, wife of human rights lawyer Li Heping, who was arrested in 2015. Wang wrote on Twitter that she wants to run in the election because in the six years she has been defending the rights of arrested lawyers, their family members have been evicted by landlords and their children have been expelled from school.

"I deeply feel the difficulties to communicate with the police, procuratorate, court and justice authorities. I want to complain to the congress representatives, but I am unable to find them in our life," the activist explains.

Lawyers arrested in 2015 claimed that they suffered inhumane torture while in detention. Along with other family members of the detained lawyers, Wang has continued to file complaints with the authorities, who have always ignored her.

Another of the 14 independent candidates is Ye Jinghuan. A former member of the Chinese Communist Party, she has become a petitioner to the authorities. Ye has denounced the evil of "re-education through labor" (Laojiao), a system under which authorities imprison citizens without trial, used mainly to imprison dissidents.

Ye has already participated in the 2011 and 2016 local elections; in both cases, authorities obstructed her candidacy: plainclothes agents assaulted her and surrounded her home. She stated that she had "a strong willing that I was to be a representative! I am willing to speak and do something for the people."

Although the people's assemblies are seen as "rubber-stamps" that approve the Party's guidelines, independent candidates are seen as enemies by the authorities. In 2019, jurist Xu Zhiyong had stated that he was preparing for the election campaign, and in 2020 he wrote an open letter urging President Xi Jinping to step down.

Authorities later detained Xu, who is still in jail, as is his girlfriend Li Qiaochu. Xu was elected as a representative of the Haidian District Assembly in Beijing in 2003 and 2006. In 2011 he lost against a candidate supported by the authorities, Fang Binxing, president of the university of Posts and Telecommunications of the capital: the main creator of the "Great Wall" that censors the internet in China.

Apparently, the Chinese authorities got nervous about the independent campaign. Wang Qiaoling wrote on Twitter that after publishing the manifesto on the web, she received a call from Hong Kong. She thought it was from a reporter for interview, but could not hear anything.

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