China's Harassment of Activists Escalates Ahead of Tiananmen Anniversary, Says Amnesty International

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

AIUSA media office, 202-544-0200 x302,
Laura Spann: lspann@aiusa.org

 

China's Harassment of Activists Escalates Ahead of Tiananmen Anniversary, Says Amnesty International

WASHINGTON - Chinese authorities have
stepped up suppression of dissenting voices and escalated censorship of
activists throughout the country, a day before the 20th anniversary of
the Tiananmen crackdown.

“Cutting off communication and preventing
movement will not stop activists from fighting for their rights and will
not stop people from marking the 20th anniversary of the crackdown,” said
Roseann Rife, Asia-Pacific deputy director at Amnesty International. “The
quest for truth will only be fuelled by excessive harassment.”

Over the past few days, Amnesty International
has received reports of serious harassment of human rights activists:

*In Beijing, HIV/AIDS activist, Wan Yanhai,
was forced to travel to the northern city of Changchun ahead of the anniversary.
Police officers knocked at his door and requested he leave to “avoid possible
conflict.” He refused but was forced to board a train to leave the capital
with his family.  

*On June 3, Zeng Jinyan, carrying her infant
daughter, attempted to leave home to attend her mother’s birthday celebration.
Five policemen roughly pushed her back inside and told her she was not
allowed to leave the house in the coming days.

*On June 3, in Hangzhou, police officers
gathered outside the house of human rights activist Wen Kejian and invited
him for a “talk.”

*On June 2, two police officers and four
"Neighborhood/Residential Committee" members were stationed outside
the Shanghai-based reproductive rights activist, Mao Hengfeng’s house.
They forced her back inside after she attempted to leave and told her she
was forbidden to go out until the June 4 anniversary was over.

*On June 2, in Inner Mongolia, internal security
police reportedly took away internet writer Tian Yongde at around 3:30
p.m.,
while he was visiting his mother in hospital. His whereabouts are currently
unknown.

*On June 1, police took up positions outside
the houses of lawyers Jiang Tianyong and Li Xiongbing, and other police
drive them wherever they go.

*At midnight on June 2, lawyers Lan Zhixue
and Tang Jitian were discussing a case in the offices of an NGO. When they
were leaving in the early hours of June 3, police took the two lawyers
in for questioning. They have not yet been released.

In order to limit communication between activists
and internet campaigners, Chinese authorities shut down Twitter, Flickr
and Hotmail.

Background

Amnesty International has documented at least
one hundred cases of activists who have been detained briefly or faced
violence from authorities in 2009 as they defended land rights, housing
rights and labor rights. Signatories of the Charter 08, a petition calling
for legal and political reforms, continue to face questioning.  

Recently, lawyers have been threatened with
denial of the licenses in retaliation for their work on human rights defense
cases. On May 31, at least 18 lawyers still had not received their license
renewals by the 6 p.m.
deadline. These lawyers, from eleven different law firms, are involved
in defending and providing legal aid to Tibetans who were detained in connection
with March 2008 protests, Falun Gong practitioners, human rights defenders
detained for exercising freedom of expression, families of victims of the
Sichuan earthquake, families of victims of poisoned milk powder scandal
and other public interest cases. Some of them have called for democratic
election of Beijing lawyers Association executive committee members and
are thus being targeted.  

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