02/21/2009, 00.00
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Charter 08 activists arrested, silenced ahead of Hillary Clinton's arrival in Beijing

They have been forbidden to leave their homes, or to meet with any representative of the United States. In Clinton's talks with the Chinese, human rights have been addressed only in passing. Yang Jieshi: we agree about discussing human rights, but without interfering in each other's domestic affairs.

Beijing (AsiaNews/CHRD) - Some dissidents and human rights activists, many of them signers of Charter 08, have been put under house arrest and are under pressure just as Hillary Clinton arrives in Beijing.

On her first visit to China as U.S. secretary of state, Clinton - who arrived yesterday evening - has already met with foreign minister Yang Jiechi, prime minister Wen Jiabao, and president Hu Jintao.

The central topic of the talks has been economic cooperation between the two giants, both hit hard by the global economic crisis. The topic of human rights, once crucial for the U.S. administration, has been pushed to the sidelines. Yang Jieshi has stated that China wants to continue dialogue about improving human rights, but "on the basis of mutual respect and non-interference in each other's domestic affairs."

In order to prevent any activist from meeting with Clinton or getting messages to her, the police have silenced a number of activists for days:

- Since the morning of February 20, several members of the National Security Unit under Beijing Public Security Bureau have been stationed outside the home of Zhang Zuhu, a Beijing-based intellectual and signatory to Charter 08. Police barred Zhang from leaving his home and told him that he will not be able to leave or meet with visitors in the next few days. Police also questioned Zhang about his plans for the coming days.

- Jiang Qisheng, vice-chairman of independent Chinese writers' association PEN and signatory to Charter 08, has been monitored by a couple of national security policemen since the morning of February 20. Police asked Jiang not to meet with Clinton. Police also asked Jiang to travel in police cars when he goes out.

- Pu Zhiqiang, a Beijing-based lawyer and signatory to Charter 08, was "invited to tea" by national security police on the evening of February 20. Police asked Pu not to give his talk, "Working as a Lawyer in Beijing," at a forum schedule in the afternoon of February 21 at the Chuan Zhi Xing Institute, an independent think tank. After some negotiation Pu was allowed to attend the forum, but had to be escorted by the police.

- Li Zhiying, a human rights activist and signatory to Charter 08, was questioned by national security police. Li was asked to travel in police vehicles and not to meet with "U.S. officials."

- Yu Jie, a freelance writer and signatory to Charter 08, has been monitored by plainclothes police since February 18. Since February 20, a police car has been parked outside of Yu's home. Yu is allowed to go out, but has to travel in a police car.

- Zeng Jinyan, a human rights activist and wife of jailed activist Hu Jia and signatory to Charter 08, was barred from leaving her home this morning by at least six members of the national security police. Zeng had planned to meet with Gao Yaojie, an AIDS activist from Henan Province invited to meet with Clinton.

Others, such as recently released political prisoners Gao Hongming and Cha Jianguo, activists Li Hai, Liu Di, Wang Debang, and Qi Zhiyong, have also been subjected to questioning and monitoring by Beijing police as a result of Clinton's visit.

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