Cyber Activists Detained for “Inciting” Anti-Pollution March in Chengdu

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Cyber Activists Detained for “Inciting” Anti-Pollution March in Chengdu
China Must End Crackdown Prior to the Olympics

(Chinese Human Rights Defenders, May 12, 2008) – CHRD learned today that four cyber activists have been detained for posting articles online criticizing the construction of a chemical plant in Chengdu, capital of Sichuan Province. One of the activists is detained on suspicion of “inciting subversion of state power”.

On May 4, about 200 people participated in a march in Chengdu to protest the construction of a petrochemical plant in nearby Pengzhou City. On May 9, Chen Daojun (陈道军), a cyber-activist from Chengdu, was criminally detained for “inciting subversion of state power”. Around the same time, three other activists, Xin Wu (辛吴, also known as “Chengdu white handkerchief”), Shi Jianhua (施建华) and Lin Yong (林勇, also known as Li Li (李力)), were put under administrative detention. The activists are incarcerated for posting articles that “created, spread and stirred up rumor”, “using the internet to spread harmful information” and “inciting” the “illegal” demonstration, said a police spokesperson at a press conference in Chengdu on May 10.

The detention of the activists is indicative of increased repression by the Chinese government before the Olympic Games. Around the country, individuals who dare to voice dissent face increasingly swift and heavy-handed punishment. For example:

  • In early May, Chang Ping (长平), assistant editor of Southern Metropolitan Daily, lost his position after he published an article in the Financial Times calling for freedom of the press following incidents in Tibetan regions in mid-March.
  • On May 3, Zhou Yuanzhi (周远志), Hubei-based writer and member of Chinese Independent PEN, was detained. He is likely to be charged with the crimes of “endangering state security” or “leaking state secrets”. It is believed that Zhou is being detained for his articles exposing human rights violations in Hubei.

CHRD protests the government’s increasing intolerance towards Chinese citizens who exercise the rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly, rights guaranteed in Articles 19, 21 and 22 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which China has signed (but not yet ratified). These rights are also enshrined in Article 35 of the Chinese Constitution.

CHRD urges the Chinese government to halt the crackdown, which has undermined the government’s credibility as it promised to improve the human rights situation when it bid to host the Olympics in 2001.

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