10/03/2006, 00.00
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Guangzhou: police confirm arrest of anti-corruption activist

Yang Maodong, better known as Guo Feixiong, disappeared on 14 September. The authorities have accused him of conducting an "illegal business". The activist is famous for helping residents of Taishi in their anti-corruption struggle.

Guangzhou (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Police from the southern province of Guangdong have formally arrested renowned Chinese activist, Yang Maodong, and charged him with "conducting illegal business". He disappeared after being apprehended on 14 September in Guangzhou, the capital of the province.

His wife, Zhang Qing, said she was informed about the charges on 1 October. The police who contacted her tried to make her sign the arrest notice but she refused and insisted her husband was innocent.

According to the police, Yang – better known as Guo Feixiong – printed at home 20,000 copies of a book for sale. No details were given about the content of the book.

Mo Shaoping, assistant of the lawyer who has taken on Yang's defence, said he saw Yang for more than 40 minutes. The police submitted Yang to daily questioning sessions from September 14 to September 20 for more than 11 hours per day, allowing him to sleep only one hour at night.

The 40-year-old dissident was arrested several times over the past year for helping residents of Taishi in their struggle against the corruption of the mayor and local party officials. At the time of the protest, he published several articles on the Internet to explain the plight facing the villagers and to denounce the violent methods used by police.

Some analysts said confirmation of Yang's arrest is "one more proof of the extent of Chinese leaders' desperation, as they seek to stop the activities of human rights campaigners and to rein in social unrest."

In China, renowned activists are often arrested and spirited away. Hu Jia, who fights against AIDS and who has often slammed Chinese health structures, is frequently arrested and then released.

Chen Guangcheng, who is blind, ranged himself against forced abortions in Shandong. His denunciations forced the government to admit to "abuses of citizens' rights". Now he is in prison, condemned to five years imprisonment.

Gao Zhisheng, a lawyer, disappeared in August: famous for his work in favour of unofficial Christians and Falun Gong practitioners, he wrote three open letters to Chinese leaders to call for the return of the rule of law in the country.

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