02/22/2011, 00.00
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Egypt’s impact on Beijing, beatings and preventive arrests to stop protests

In responding to false online calls on people to take to the streets to protest, police searches homes and arrests more than 100 dissidents. The Centre Human Rights and Democracy slams the arrests, and calls for the release of missing activists.
Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – At least six of the more than 100 human rights activists arrested by Chinese police over night on 19-20 February remain unaccounted for after they were taken into custody following calls on the public to take to the streets in 13 large cities to take part in protests like those in the Middle East (see “Police hits the streets to stop non-existent protests,” in AsiaNews, 21 February 2011). In addition to patrolling empty streets and squares, and dispersing groups of onlookers, the police searched homes of activists and human rights defenders, seizing papers, computers and mobile phones. Dissidents were threatened and arrested.

“The government's swift reaction to nip these protests in the bud demonstrates once again the extent to which it fears its own citizens,” said Renee Xia, international director of the Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD). “The leaders in China should have learned their lesson from the recent uprisings in the Middle East: denying people a public outlet to voice their discontent over social injustices, corruption, and rights abuses is a recipe for unrest and instability sooner or later.”

Liu Shihui was one of the more than 100 activists involved in the crackdown on Sunday morning. He was waiting for a bus in Guangzhou when he was brutally beaten and stabbed to his legs by unknown men, left bleeding on the roadside. Other activists received visits at home or were placed under a close surveillance. Some were taken to police stations and interrogated at length, or taken elsewhere. CHRD reports that at least six of them are still missing.

Tang Jitian was seized on the evening of 16 February after attending lunch with a dozen activists to discuss ways to help blind human rights activist Chen Guangcheng who is under house arrest.

Jiang Tianyong was removed from his brother’s home on the last Saturday afternoon and driven away by men who did not identify themselves. Police returned that evening and confiscated his computer.

Teng Biao (pictured) went missing after leaving home to meet friends on the same Saturday afternoon. More than 20 police agents searched Teng’s home the next day, confiscating two computers, a printer, articles, books, DVDs and photos of Chen Guangcheng.

Two dozen police officers searched Gu Chuan’s home in Beijing on Saturday afternoon. They then took him away after confiscating two computers, two mobile phones and some books. His wife, Li Xinai, was placed under “soft detention” and cut off from the outside world.

Chen Wei Chen was called for “tea” on Sunday morning by police in Suining City in Sichuan Province. In the afternoon, a dozen police officers and security guards arrived and searched Chen’s home, confiscating a computer.

Police in Chengdu City (Sichuan) also invited Ran Yunfei Ran for "tea" on Sunday morning, and then held him. They later visited his home where they confiscated his computer.

The CHRD has called on China’s government to release the dissidents it arbitrarily held. It also urged world governments to intervene.

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