Activist Promoting Democracy at Grassroots Disappears, Feared Abducted by Authorities

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Activist Promoting Democracy at Grassroots Disappears, Feared Abducted by Authorities(Chinese Human Rights Defenders, January 19, 2000)- Yao Lifa (姚立法), an activist promoting local democratic elections from Qianjiang City, Hubei Province, disappeared yesterday. Past records suggest that Qianjiang City authorities might be responsible for Yao’s disappearance.

On January 18, Yao, who was visiting his friends in Beijing, failed to show up at various appointments with friends. When Yao’s friends tried to reach him on his mobile phone, the calls went through twice. Though nobody answered, from the background conversation, the friends reported hearing someone with a Qianjiang accent threatening Yao. According to his son, Yao has disappeared for more than 24 hours.

Yao was scheduled to return to Hubei on January 19 to attend the celebration of the inauguration of the US president at the US Consulate in Wuhan City, Hubei Province. It is unclear why Yao disappeared, but it might be related to his attendance at the event or the visits he made to other Charter 08 signatories in Beijing. Yao is one of the 303 initial signatories of the Charter, for which he had been questioned by Hubei police.

Yao has suffered repeated illegal kidnappings and detention at the hands of Qianjiang authorities previously. Between October 31 and November 12, 2008, Yao was kidnapped and detained by Qianjiang officials in a “black jail” outside of Qianjiang City. Yao was taken into custody to prevent him from aiding Qianjiang villagers in exposing local government’s violations of election procedures. Between June 26 and July 1, 2008, Yao was kidnapped and detained by Qianjiang police in several black jails. Yao was abducted when he was attending a demonstration against police brutality outside of the Qingjiang City government building. Between October 1 and 29, 2007, Yao was illegally detained in a black jail for being involved in several sensitive human rights-defending activities at the time, the most sensitive of which was his role as a legal counsel to 6,000 teachers dissatisfied with Hubei Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Secretary.

Background

Yao is a primary school teacher by profession. He started running for elections in 1987 and was elected representative to the People’s Congress of Qingjiang City from 1999 to 2004. In 2006, he published a book, I Accuse: the Road to Politics by a Member of the People’s Congress, exposing the persecution of many independent candidates running for election to local People’s Congresses. The book was banned. Yao was intimidated, harassed and summoned by the police for again running as an independent candidate in 2006.

For more information, please see:

Yao Lifa and Lu Banglie, Two Activists Promoting Democracy at Grassroots, Disappear, Feared Detained by Police, October 10, 2007, https://www.nchrd.org/Article/Class9/Class10/200710/20071011105054_5966.html

Media contacts for this press release:

Renee Xia, International Director (English and Mandarin): +1 3015479286

Wang Songlian, Research Coordinator and English Editor (English, Mandarin and Cantonese): +852 81911660

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