Veteran Chinese Rights Activist Who Complained to UN Held Secretly

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Originally published by Radio Free Asia on February 6, 2014


Activist Mi Chongbiao (left) and his wife Li Kezhen (right) in an undated photo.

Activist Mi Chongbiao (left) and his wife Li Kezhen (right) in an undated photo.

Authorities in the southwestern Chinese province of Guizhou are believed to be holding an elderly democracy activist who had complained to the UN about the human rights situation in China and his wife in an unknown location since the couple went incommunicado for the last five months, activists said on Wednesday.

Mi Chongbiao and his wife, Li Kezhen, have had no contact with friends or family since September last year, after being held under illegal house arrest for months before their disappearance, the overseas-based Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD) group said in an e-mailed statement.

The couple had initially been placed under house arrest at their home in Guiyang city after Mi wrote about a complaint he made to the United Nations online.

“Several weeks ago, an activist spotted Mi in a hospital by chance and learned details of the couple’s plight, but their current whereabouts remain unknown,” CHRD said.

Mi has been an active member of the Guizhou Human Rights Forum, whose activists are frequently targeted by police for house arrest and tight surveillance, for many years.

UN Complaint

On June 15, 2013, he wrote a post online titled “Filing a complaint to the U.N. Human Rights Council for the second time” and calling for greater democracy and human rights protection.

Within four days of the post, Mi was being held under close police surveillance.

Since September, Mi and his wife were held in separate locations under extrajudicial detention, the couple’s son told RFA’s Mandarin Service at the end of last month.

Mi and Li were only able to meet when Li became seriously ill and was taken to the hospital, and Mi was allowed to visit her, their son said.

“I have been to the police station to ask about them and to demand why two elderly people in their seventies are being detained,” he said. “But they just pass the buck.”

“There have never been any formal procedures,” said the son, who asked not to be named.

Guizhou Human Rights Forum

A member of the Guizhou Human Rights Forum, who asked not to be named, said Mi and his wife are still being held at a secret location.

“They are under secret detention, and they have entirely lost contact with their family,” said the activist. “On Jan. 13 I received news that she had been taken for emergency hospital treatment for a brain stem obstruction.”

“We have no way of contacting their relatives…and a lot of people are under police surveillance outside their homes,” he added. “I can’t leave my home.”

The forum has been the target of official harassment since it was set up on World Human Rights Day in 2005, with members subjected to police surveillance, detention, and house arrest whenever it tries to meet.

It was formally banned by the authorities, according to notices issued by the local government, in December 2011.

Chinese rights lawyers have hit out in recent months at what they say is a sharp rise in the number of extrajudicial detentions, in spite of the government’s abolition of one form of administrative punishment, “re-education through labor,” at the beginning of the year.

In December, Beijing hit out at international criticism of its human rights record, saying that only the Chinese people have the right to speak out on the subject.

Reported by Qiao Long for RFA’s Mandarin Service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.

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