11/05/2007, 00.00
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Police cordons off Tiananmen dissident Bao Zunxin’s funeral

Police arrests, harasses and interrogates activists, lawyers and human rights advocates to prevent them from attending the funeral of a great hero of democracy.

Beijing (AsiaNews) – The funeral of Bao Zunxin, a pro-democracy scholar who died October 28th, was marred by the presence of police who harassed mourners, seized biographic pamphlets about the deceased, and arrested and interrogated some prominent would-be participants.

The farewell ceremony of the 70-year-old Bao Zunxin was held at 11 am Saturday in a funeral home in an eastern neighbourhood of the capital. About 200 people came but were met by police who videotaped them, taking away two, writer Liu Di and pro-democracy activist Li Hai, who had been able to evade police surveillance as they got away from their homes.

Police also seized printed copies of memorial notes and articles about Mr. Bao's life and ordered journalists not to take pictures. A Japanese reporter was removed briefly for taking pictures outside the funeral hall, and ordered to delete all the pictures before he was released.

Bao, a former member of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, was involved in the 1989 Tiananmen Square protest movement. As an associate research fellow he had gained wide respect among students for his integrity and open views about human rights and democracy.

He was sentenced to five years in prison in 1991 but was released on bail after serving 11 months. He lived in poverty thereafter, refusing all job offers from the government, whilst pursuing in his interest in democracy in China under the vigilant eye of the police.

The funeral ceremony was organised by Liu Xiaobo, another respected intellectual and Tiananmen activist who remained with the students in Tiananmen Square until the start of the bloody crackdown

The funeral arrangements were approved by police on condition that no reference was made at the memorial service to the June 4 crackdown and also that the ceremony be kept small

On the evening of November 2, police visited and questioned many of Mr. Bao’s friends and supporters, in some cases holding them for many hours until early in the next morning, trying to intimidate them into giving up their plans to attend the service. 

In the early morning of November 3 police placed dozens under house arrest or residential detention, including human rights lawyer Mo Shaoping; the scientist/writer Jiang Qisheng; intellectuals Liu Junning, Chen Ziming, and Liu Suli; Tiananmen Mothers’ movement activist Zhang Xianling; and activists Qi Zhiyong, Hu Jia  and Zeng Jinyan.

According to Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD), more than a dozen policemen were assigned to prevent a single individual from leaving home in some cases.

Police took several people including the legal scholar Yu Meisun and human rights lawyer Pu Zhiqiang into administrative detention at local police stations, after they tried to defy police orders to stay home.

Mr Yu was held for 24 hours, and Mr Pu for five hours during which he was verbally abused.

Both were released but only after the funeral.

According to the CHRD, about 200 people who had planned to bid Bao Zunxin farewell were prevented by the police from going.

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