China Arrests Intellectuals in a New Wave of Repression

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Originally published by Latin American Herald Tribune on December 15, 2014

BEIJING – Chinese authorities have arrested a number of public intellectuals and shut down two independent organizations in what many see as a preventive response to the threat of Hong Kong’s revolution spreading to the rest of the country, the Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD) group said on Thursday.

The organization reported that Beijing authorities have shut down the Transition Institute, an independent think tank, and the Liren Group, which runs private schools and libraries.

Several intellectuals related to CHRD , as well as the scriptwriters of an independent short film, were also arrested.

Among those detained are the administrative director of the Transition Institute, He Zhengjun, arrested on Nov. 26; and Liu Jianshu, who returned to the country after studying at Harvard and Oxford in 2011 had been managing Liren libraries since then.

The executive director in charge of libraries and ex-director of the NGO “Friends of Nature,” Xue Ye, was also arrested, along with the writer Xu Xiao, chief editor of “New Century” publications.

The human rights organization has also revealed that none of the charges against any of those arrested has been disclosed, except in the case of Xu, who was accused of threatening national security.

According to CHRD , Xu was sentenced or counterrevolutionary activities during Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution in the late 1960s, and had recently been involved in activities promoted by Liren.

The arrests came after the detention of Guo Yushan and Huang Kaiping, the Transition Institute’s founder and ex-director, respectively, in October on charges of disorderly conduct.

Disorderly conduct and altercation of order are common pretexts used by the communist regime to silence dissenting voices.

The Transition Institute, founded in 2007, has carried out investigations in the fields of fiscal reform, local elections, legal reforms, business regulations, citizen participation and education rights.

In early October, writer Kuo Yanding was arrested and charged with creating disorder, while CHRD believes her arrest was linked to her comments on democracy in Hong Kong.

“The Chinese government continues to suppress our freedoms of expression, association and assembly; starting last year with the imprisonment of human rights supporter Xu Zhiyong,” CHRD researcher Wendy Lin told Efe.

She added that China’s liberal intellectual community is under direct attack from the regime.


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