Human Rights Activists under House Arrest during U.S. Congress Visit

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(Chinese Human Rights Defenders, June 30, 2008) – On June 29, authorities put a number of Beijing-based human rights activists under house arrest to prevent them from meeting members of the U.S. Congress currently visiting China.

At around 2 p.m. on June 29, lawyer Li Baiguang (李柏光) was brought to a holiday resort in Huairou, a Beijing suburb, by police from the Beijing Public Security Bureau (PSB). Li, guarded by four policemen, is barred from returning to the capital in the next three days. As a result, he was unable to attend a dinner on June 29 to which he was invited by the congressmen.

Another Beijing lawyer, Jiang Tianyong (江天), was also unable to attend the dinner. In the afternoon of June 29, two policemen from Beijing PSB Haidian Sub-division barred Jiang from leaving his apartment block. Police closely followed Jiang until 8 p.m., when the dinner ended.

Teng Biao (滕彪), lecturer at the China University of Political Science and Law, was also brought to Huirou in the afternoon of June 29. Police later brought him home, but he is now under house arrest.

Other human rights lawyers and activists who were either warned against or barred from attending the dinner included: Li Heping (李和平), Li Xiongbing (黎雄), Li Fangping (李方), Fan Yafeng (范亚), Zhang Xingshui (张星) and Liu Xiaobo (刘晓波).

Li Baiguang, Teng Biao and Li Heping are winners of the “Democracy Award”, an award by the U.S. foundation National Endowment for Democracy’s (NED). In June, Li Baiguang and Li Heping travelled to the U.S. to receive the award and met with President Bush. Upon their return, the lawyers were questioned and intimidated by the police. Teng was unable to attend the ceremony because police confiscated his passport earlier this year.

CHRD learned that the house arrest and heightened surveillance of human rights lawyers and activists during the U.S. Congress visit was a planned drill by the police in preparation for the Olympics, which opens in the capital on August 8.

CHRD calls on U.S. President Bush to reconsider the decision to attend the Olympics’ opening ceremony. Given the Chinese government’s increasingly draconian measures towards activists especially during official U.S. visits—the China-U.S. “Human Rights Dialogue” and the U.S. Congress visit —Bush’s attendance at the ceremony is unlikely to have its intended effects of “drawing more attention to” China’s rights record and “personally influencing” the Chinese leadership towards better rights protection. Instead, the Chinese authorities, which have already tightened media control and restricted press freedom prior to the Games, will manipulate his visit to send the wrong signal to the Chinese people: that the US government approves of China’s systematic violations of human rights.

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