Chinese Police Detain Anti-Graft Activist’s Supporters

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Originally published in Radio Free Asia on May 9, 2013

liu-ping-305Authorities in the southern Chinese province of Guangzhou have detained and questioned a lawyer who attempted to visit detained anti-corruption activist Liu Ping.

Liu Ping was placed under criminal detention on a charge of “incitement to subvert state power” on Tuesday, after being held incommunicado by police since April 27. She is being held with several other activists in Xinyu in the southern province of Jiangxi.

Guangzhou-based rights lawyer Tang Jingling said he was detained on suspicion of “disturbing public order” and interrogated for six hours on Thursday by police, who had questioned him about various activities last month.

“It’s because quite a few of us were getting ready to go to Jiangxi and support Liu Ping, Wei Zhongping, and the others after they were detained,” Tang said.

“There were quite a few of us who were planning to go there, and all of them have been prevented,” he said.

“Some are under surveillance by security agents, while others are under house arrest and not allowed to go out.”

He said the police had mentioned the planned Xinyu trip during the six hours he was held.

“I think it’s clear that they are pretty worried about this, and that the main point was to prevent it from happening.”

Homes raided

Liu is being held at the Xinyu municipal detention center, but police have refused permission for her lawyer, Zhang Xuezhong, to meet with her there.

According to the overseas-based group China Human Rights Defenders, police in Xinyu seized Liu and seven other activists on the same day, and went on to raid their homes and confiscate property.

“At least two individuals taken into custody were tortured before being released,” the group said in an e-mailed statement.

It said the whereabouts of four others, including Li Sihua and Wei Zhongping, are still unknown, but that there were unconfirmed reports that they have also been criminally detained for “inciting subversion.”

New crackdown

As the new administration of President Xi Jinping vows to fight for a cleaner and more transparent government, Chinese authorities have launched a crackdown in recent weeks that appears directly targeted at activists calling for the disclosure of official assets, activists say.

Altogether, rights groups say the authorities have detained at least 10 activists from the “New Citizens’ Movement,” after the group launched a petition calling on more than 200 high-ranking ruling Chinese Communist Party officials, including Xi and Premier Li Keqiang, to publicly disclose their financial assets and those of their families.

A laid-off worker who gained the backing of more than 30 people for her nomination in elections to the district-level People’s Congress in 2012, Liu Ping is no stranger to official harassment.

In March 2012, she was held for several weeks in an unofficial detention center, or “black jail,” strip-searched, and beaten, rights groups reported at the time.

Before her candidacy for district People’s Congress in Xinyu city was rejected, Liu had mustered a strong following among laid-off and retired workers, as well as existing workers who complained of poor conditions in their jobs.

Reported by Fang Yuan for RFA’s Mandarin Service, and by Hai Nan for the Cantonese Service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.

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