Beijing Police Prevented Hundreds from Attending Memorial for Dissident Intellectual

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Beijing Police Prevented Hundreds from Attending Memorial for Dissident Intellectual

Government must change habit of crackdown during “sensitive” times/events

(Chinese Human Rights Defenders, November 4, 2007) – Yesterday, apparently under an order from the highest authorities, large contingents of policemen were mobilized to block mourners from attending a memorial service for Bao Zunxin (包遵信), an influential dissident intellectual who inspired the 1989 pro-democracy movement. About 200 people who had planned to attend the service were prevented by the police from going.

On the evening of November 2, police visited and questioned many friends and supporters of Mr. Bao, in some cases for many hours until early in the next morning, trying to intimidate them into giving up their plans to attend the service scheduled for 11 am on November 3.

In the early morning of November 3 police placed dozens under house arrest or residential detention, including the human rights lawyer, Mo Shaoping (莫少平), the scientist/writer Jiang Qisheng (江琪生), intellectuals Liu Junning (刘军宁), Chen Ziming (陈子明), and Liu Suli (刘苏里), the activist in the Tiananmen Mothers movement Zhang Xianling (张先玲), and activists Qi Zhiyong (齐志勇), Hu Jia (胡佳) and Zeng Jinyan (曾金燕). In some cases, more than a dozen policemen were assigned to prevent a single individual from leaving home.

Police took several people including the legal scholar, Yu Meisun (俞梅荪), and the human rights lawyer, Pu Zhiqiang (浦志强), into administrative detention for questioning at local police stations, after they tried to defy police orders to stay home. Mr. Pu was detained at the Fanjiacun Public Security Bureau (PSB) Branch Station by the Beijing Municipal PSB’s National Security Protection Unit for five hours, during which he was verbally abused. Mr. Yu was roughly handled and detained for 24 hours starting on November 2. Both have been released.

At the Beijing Eastern Suburb Funeral Home, the site of the memorial service, a large contingent of policemen from Chaoyang District’s PSB National Security Protection Unit monitored mourners, videotaping them as a means of intimidation, and took some of them away, including the writer, Liu Di ( 刘荻a.k.a. Small Stainless Mouse) and activist, Li Hai (李海), who had evaded surveillance to reach the site. Both were taken to the police stations in their neighborhoods, detained and then released. Police confiscated printed copies of memorial notes and articles about Mr. Bao’s life and ordered journalists who photographed the service to expose their film.

Mr. Bao died of a brain hemorrhage at the age of 70 on November 1. He was an outspoken, independent-minded intellectual. His prolific writings and edited volumes such as the influential series about political reform, published in the 19802, March to the Future (《走向未来》), were believed to have enlightened a generation of liberal intellectuals and inspired the 1989 pro-democracy movement. For his role in the 1989 Tiananmen movement, he was imprisoned for five years and fired from his job at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, a government think tank. Ever since, he refused to cooperate with the government and lived a quiet and impoverished life while continuing to write, though his writings were banned from appearing in the Chinese media.

CHRD believes that the scale and efficiency of police mobilization to prevent activists from attending the memorial service for Mr. Bao indicate nervousness at high levels. The potentially sensitive event may have reminded authorities of the April 1989 commemoration of the former Communist leader and reformer, Hu Yaobang, when an outpouring of grief and anger led to denunciations of the regime and sparked the student protests that culminated in the June 4 military crackdown. Officials apparently feared that the memorial service for Mr. Bao might allow people to express their views about 1989.

CHRD is concerned that the Chinese leaders, only recently consolidated their power, has continued their repressive rule at the disregard of human rights. They have demonstrated, once again, a determination to use coercive measures during sensitive periods or events to crash any exercise of free expression, association, and assembly if the Chinese leaders deem such exercises “threatening” to its power and control.

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