China shuts down civil society think-tank, detains anti-graft activists

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Originally published in the Tibetan Review on July 21, 2013

(, Jul21, 2013)  In a renewed crackdown on civil society and human rights activists, China recently detained a leading anti-corruption activist and also shut down a prominent non-government think-tank in a sudden raid. “Dozens of municipal civil affairs bureau officials and police searched the offices of transition Institute on Social Economic Research in Beijing, confiscating its publications and issuing it with an abolition order,” Radio Free Asia (RFA, Washington) Jul 19 quoted the institute’s director Guo Yusan as saying in an interview.

Despite being registered as a company, the about 20 civil affairs bureau officials who carried out the raid shut down the institute, claiming it was not registered. And they confiscated more than 600 copies of the institute publications, Guo has added.

The Institute is said to be closely allied to the now-banned Gongmeng public interest and civil rights group, which has provided legal support to activists campaigning for political representation, land rights, migrant rights and other reforms. In the aftermath of the 2008 Tibet uprising protests, which led to most of the Tibetan Plateau region being sealed and put under armed repression, Gongmeng carried out a field research and concluded that the current Chinese and Tibetan leaders in Tibet were more corrupt and autocratic than the region’s pre-1959 aristocratic rulers.

Earlier, China detained leading anti-graft campaigner Mr Xu Zhiyong, accusing him of disrupting public order. He and fellow-activists Wang Yonghong and Zhang Baocheng were denied visits by their lawyers. The three were held after they campaigned for China’s top officials to reveal their assets, including the assets of their families. Xu’s lawyer Liu Weiguo too was detained after being prevented from seeing his client and giving a media interview.

China Human Rights Defenders (CHRD) group has estimated that 14 activists associated with the anti-graft movement have been formally arrested or criminally detained in Beijing, the central province of Hubei and the eastern province of Jiangxi, on charges ranging from subversion to public order offences, the report added.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has warned that the ruling Chinese Communist Party must beat graft or lose power, sparking a nationwide clampdown on corruption. However, the police continue to detain activists who call for greater transparency.

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