China detained an 8-year-old girl and dozens of others for supporting Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protests

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Originally published by Quartz on January 14, 2015

There are over 40 Chinese citizens that continue to be detained—some of them tortured—by Chinese authorities for supporting pro-democracy protests in neighboring Hong Kong, according to researchers at Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD) .

At least 42 people are still in police custody after expressing solidarity with protesters of Hong Kong’s Umbrella Movement. The protests have now ended but activists in Hong Kong continue to agitate for electoral reforms.

“Though the police aren’t still detaining people in the same frequency as in October, I would say the crackdown is still ongoing since these cases are moving through the criminal justice system,” CHRD ’s Frances Eve told Quartz. “They should all be released immediately, since they were detained for peacefully expressing themselves.”

Most have been charged with “creating a disturbance,” which carries a penalty of up to five years in prison, or 10 years if a person is deemed a “ringleader.” A complete lists of the cases can be found on CHRD ’s website as well as Amnesty International. Here are a few of those being detained:

A news assistant

Zhang Miao, a news assistant for the German weekly Die Zeit was arrested in October after posting photos on her WeChat account of the Hong Kong protests and changing her profile photo to an image of a yellow ribbon, a symbol of the Hong Kong movement. That’s according to an account by Die Zeit China correspondent Angela Köckritz, which details the drawn out negotiations with Chinese authorities that alternate between threatening and emotionally manipulative. Zhang has now been in detention for more than 12 weeks.

An eight-year-old girl

A disabled petitioner from Tianjin, Xu Nailai was detained by police along with his eight-year-old daughter Xu Yanzhi in October, after he attended a dinner where people took photos of themselves holding posters supporting the protests. Xu Yanzhi is being held in a center for minors in Beijing while her father has been transferred to a Beijing hospital after going on a hunger strike in November. Friends of Xu’s father tried to visit the girl in December but were refused, according to CHRD .

An artist and poet

Wang Zang was arrested after tweeting a photo of himself seated in front of a flag of Taiwan, holding an umbrella, another symbol of the Hong Kong protests, and giving the finger—presumably to the Chinese government. According to CHRD , Wang was interrogated for five days, deprived of sleep, and beaten. The 29-year-old poet told his lawyer that he suffered a heart attack.

A banner-toting activist

Xie Wenfei is an activist in with a group called the Southern Street Movement that works on civil and economic rights for Chinese citizens and migrant workers. He was seized by police for “creating a disturbance” in a park in Guangzhou when he and other men held up a banner pledging support for the protests in October. According to his lawyer, Xie’s arms and legs have been shackled within 8 cm of each other for as long as a 20 hours at a time.

Another activist, Song Ze, who worked with the blind Chinese dissidentChen Guangcheng as well as Xu Zhiyong, one of the founders of the New Citizens Movement, a group of political dissidents. According to CHRD, Song has been wearing shackles around his wrists and legs and has not been allowed to wear his glasses, preventing his ability to see almost at all.

A businessman

Xu Chongyang, a businessman turned activist who helped organize China’s short-lived “Jasmine Revolution” was detained after appearing in a photo of activists holding placards in support of the Hong Kong protests. He was beaten during a 21 hour interrogation, according to CHRD .

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