Fears For Safety of Chinese Activist Who Supported Hong Kong’s Democracy Movement

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Originally published by Radio Free Asia on April 24, 2015

The wife of an online activist detained for subversion in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong after he publicly supported Hong Kong’s Occupy Central pro-democracy movement says she fears for his health and safety as the the authorities look set to prosecute him.

Police in Guangdong’s Huizhou city recently transferred the case of Ye Xiaozheng, known online by his nickname Humian Yizhou (“A boat on the lake”), to municipal state prosecutors, his wife Zhong Shuimei told RFA on Friday.

Ye was formally arrested and charged with “incitement to subvert state power” in January after posting a photo of himself online during Hong Kong’s Umbrella Movement last year, holding a banner saying “Protesting for Freedom” and wearing a T-shirt with the slogan: “When the people fear the government, then there is tyranny.”

Ye was initially detained on Dec. 18 by Huizhou police and is being held at the police-run Huizhou Detention Center, where he was shackled for long periods and subjected to “harsh interrogation,” according to reports from overseas rights groups.

“I am worried about his safety, because I heard they have corporal punishment in detention centers,” Zhong said. “Also, I am worried he isn’t getting enough to eat.”

Zhong said Ye’s case was transferred to the municipal procuratorate in mid-March.

“I called the prosecutors, and they say they are in the process of issuing the indictment,” she said. “They will probably indict him.”

“I think it’s unreasonable for them to indict him and then [probably] sentence him just because he spoke out on behalf of Hong Kong.”

“I just want him to be released as soon as possible,” Zhong said.

Lawyer sees little hope

Ye’s lawyer Sui Muqing said he wasn’t optimistic, however.

“I don’t dare to hope, because I think he has fallen foul of officials in his hometown in too big a way,” Sui said.

Ye is a vocal activist who has previously posted online in support of democratic reforms and constitutional government and against official corruption, and has said he is “psychologically prepared” to do time in jail.

According to the overseas-based Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD) group, which compiles and translates reports from rights groups inside China, more than 100 mainland activists were detained last year for supporting the Occupy Central campaign, although the majority have since been released.

Chinese officials said the Occupy Central movement, which blocked major highways in the former British colony for more than two months beginning on Sept. 28, was illegal, while official media said it was instigated by “hostile foreign forces” in Hong Kong.

The Occupy movement campaigned for Beijing to withdraw its electoral reform plan, which it says is “fake universal suffrage,” and to allow publicly nominated candidates to run for chief executive in 2017.

But recently tabled electoral reform plans stayed within the guidelines laid down on Aug. 31 by China’s parliament, the National People’s Congress (NPC), proposing that all five million of Hong Kong’s voters will cast ballots in the 2017 poll, but may only choose between two or three candidates vetted by a Beijing-backed election committee.

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

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