Police have rounded up protesters and other supporters of press freedoms even as officials vowed to loosen media controls in partial response to heated rallies in Guangzhou, which were triggered by the Guangdong provincial propaganda chief¡¯s rewriting of the Southern Weekly¡¯s New Year message. In particular, many protesters in Guangzhou and their supporters in other cities have been detained or questioned, as illustrated by the reports below.
On January 8, the writer Ye Du (Ò°¶É), who serves as the deputy secretary-general of the Independent Chinese PEN, was taken away by police just as he was broadcasting the protest on weibo from his cell phone. Police strip-searched and interrogated Ye, and held him for seven hours on suspicion of ¡°illegal assembly¡± before releasing him into soft detention at home.
Also on January 8, police in Hangzhou summoned dissident Mao Qingxiang (Ã«ÇìÏé) on suspicion of ¡°inciting subversion of state power,¡± and raided the residence of dissident L¨¹ Gengsong (ÂÀ¹¢ËÉ). Both men had joined friends online to show support to Southern Weekly reporters and editors.
On January 9, national security officers in Guangzhou detained activists Yuan Fengchu (Ô¬·î³õ) and Liu Yuandong (ÁõÔ¶¶«) outside of the newspaper¡¯s headquarters, while another activist, Huang Bin (»Æ±ö), was reportedly beaten after being taken in a local police station for questioning. Yuan and Huang have since been forcibly sent away from Guangzhou and barred from returning.
On January 10, retaliation against protesters appeared to only escalate in Guangzhou. Unidentified men wrestled away Jiang Di (½µÏ), a student at Guangzhou Industrial University, after he talked to journalists near the Southern Weekend headquarters. He Junhao (ºÎ¿¡å°), a student from Huanan University of Technology, was also reportedly seized from the area.
Also on January 10, about a dozen other supporters near the newspaper¡¯s office were pushed into vehicles by unidentified men and then held in a movie theatre. Police also took away activist Xiao Qingshan (Ð¤ÇàÉ½) and a friend as they tried to unfurl a banner. The two were taken away and detained at a military base in Guangzhou. In addition, four men pushed over a handicapped protester in a wheelchair and forced him into a vehicle.
In Guangzhou and elsewhere, several other protesters and those who expressed their support online have reportedly disclosed on weibo that they have been warned or ¡°invited to tea¡± by police.
China Human Rights Briefing
“Freedom of Expression Reprisals Against Protesters Underway in Shadow of Southern Weekly Compromise With Propaganda Officials”
Edited by Renee Xia and Ann Song