03/30/2011, 00.00
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Sichuan: new arrests for Jasmine Revolution supporters

Pro-democracy dissidents Ding Mao and Chen Wei are arrested for praising street protests against bad government and corruption. Yang Hengjun, a Chinese-born Australian writer, also disappears. His blog is visited by millions of people. He too backed protests.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Ding Mao, a Sichuan dissident, is in prison only for talking about the Jasmine Revolution. Beijing is so afraid of street protests that it is cracking down on people who might want to protest or just post something about it online.

The Centre for Human Rights and Democracy reported Ding Mao’s arrest. Police went to his home in Chengdu on 19 February and took him away just because he sent messages via the Internet urging people to take to the streets each Sunday for peaceful protests. His wife Feng Xia was informed of the formal charges only last Sunday. Ding is accused of “inciting subversion of state power”.

Writer Ran Yunfei, another Sichuan dissident, was arrested also in February on the same charges after he praised street protests.

Like Ran, Ding, 43, was a university student in 1989 and took part in Tiananmen Square protests in favour of democracy.

The family of pro-democracy activist Chen Wei in Suining (Sichuan) was also informed that he too was formally charged with “inciting subversion”. Chen was arrested on 20 February.

Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade confirmed yesterday that it was investigating the disappearance of prominent Chinese-born Australian writer Yang Hengjun on Sunday.

Yang’s friend Bei Feng said they were worried about his safety. Yang had published sensitive articles but not directly relating to the "jasmine rallies".

"He disappeared after his flight from Beijing to Guangzhou landed at the city's Baiyun airport on Sunday," Bei said. "Before going missing, he phoned a friend saying he was followed by three men."

Yang (pictured) is an important Internet writer. His blog has been visited millions of times.

People who know him fear he was taken into custody by police, but authorities in Beijing denied knowing him.

Since the start of the Jasmine Revolution in February, Beijing has arrested or detained hundreds of dissidents and pro-democracy activists, usually because of what they said or wrote.

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