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Breaking: China Retaliates against Activist

A few hours ago this morning, China time, veteran activist Xiao Yong (肖勇) made calls to fellow activists and told them that he was on a vehicle to Shaoyang, Hunan (湖南邵阳), and that Shaoyang Public Security Bureau issued him a notification for two-year reform-through-labor, a form of jailing widely used on dissidents and activists, and a notification of rights which states that he may request for an administrative review within three days.

He told Wen Yunchao (@wenyunchao), renowned media professional and activist based in Hong Kong, that the decision was based on his purchase of three motorcycles three years ago. At the time he reported the case of his own initiative and the local prosecutors had decided not to bring charges against him. However the public security told Xiao Yong today that the decision for reform-through-labor was based on his failure to report illegal incomes from that incident.

Xiao Yong has been an activist based in Guangzhou for the last few years. According to a friend of his with whom I spoke just a short while ago, he had traveled to many places in China to participate in rights struggles. While on trains, the friend said, he would engage travelers in conversations about freedoms and rights. And he had been frequently summoned by police to “hecha”, or to be interrogated, warned and threatened.

On March 30th this year, shortly after the Two Meetings (两会) in Beijing concluded where Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao once again spoke of the urgent need for political reform and called upon the people to push for it, Xiao Yong and a dozen or so others were on street in Guangzhou holding signs such as “No vote, no future”, “Hu Jintao leads the way to disclose assets” and more. Six were detained on allegations of “illegally gathering, marching or demonstrating,” including Xiao Yong. They were released after a month or so on probation.

Xiao Yong was forced to go back to his hometown in Shaoyang, Hunan, where he has sustained a lot of pressure from not just authorities but also relatives and friends, his friend told me over the phone. He told friends that he felt the authorities were out to get him and they probably would throw him in jail as soon as this year.

The news of Xiao Yong’s abrupt two-year reform-through-labor came as a shock today. In Twitter’s Chinese community, people expressed disbelief and anger over such despicable abuses of power on the part of the Chinese government. Some remind us that this has been a pattern used on many other activists, while others see it as an attempt to terrify other activists.

For those of you who follow China’s human rights situation closely, Shaoyang has been in the news lately for the death of Li Wangyang (李旺阳), a dissident from the 1989 movement who was found dead in early June. Police insisted he had committed suicide, but too many questions are pointing to murder. His relatives and friends who brought the news his death to the world have since been held illegally without anyone being able to reach them.

Xiao Yong made it clear in his calls that he wants to get legal assistance to challenge his case.

Our readers may have already come across two headlines about China today: China, along with Russia, again vetoed a UN resolution seeking to sanction against Syria; the famed artist Ai Weiwei is being prevented by police from going to the court to hear the very verdict in his own case.

Today is one of those days that afford you a better look at the people running China.


8 Comments

  1. Ron Sizely says:

    It’s a pity you cite the Syria veto as somehow negative. The Xiao and Ai cases are deeply disturbing, but China’s firm stance against the United States’ attempt to obtain UN support in its brutal attempt to reduce yet another Arab state to anarchy can only be applauded.

    • Yaxue C. says:

      I said this when China vetoed the first resolution, and I will say it again: Chinese communist regime sees in Assad regime its own shadow, and the veto is a No to international pressure it will be facing down the road.

      Also, the idea that a regime that has no respect for law and engages in egregious human rights abuses systematically would somehow be the benevolent force internationally is just…..well, funny, isn’t it?

      • Lao Wai says:

        China’s position on Syria is a Rodney King-esque “can’t we all just get along” imploring to Assad’s regime and the rebels. Even Anan does not believe Anan’s plan will work. China is a not-ready-for-prime-time diplomatic rookie with no credibility or ideas. The only thing it brings to the table is a checkbook, which won’t help in the Syrian crisis.
        As Yaxue points out the country’s deplorable human rights record creates a hollow soapbox to try to take any kind of international leadership.

        Who will listen to the ideas of a father who beats his own children mercilessly, denies that such events occur, intimidates his other children to stay quiet, prohibiting them from talking to each other (about unharmonious ideas) all the while trying to cozy up to his neighbors?

  2. Meryl Mackay aka 马美丽 says:

    The veteran BBC world news reporter, 67 year old John Simpson has been reporting from China recently. He was banned after reporting on a certain incident twenty three years ago but has been allowed back in since the Beijing Olympics. I miss Melissa Chan’s stellar reports so it was good to see big old white haired John giving BBC viewers his take on China today – the lack of Rule of Law and any kind of social welfare so people are very aware that they are on their own. OK so it was nothing new to your average China Watcher but to the average British viewer, who knows little more than China’s phenomenal GDP growth in the last ten years, it was probably eye opening. He interviewed some of the new middle class “Haves” who were quite open about their wish to leave China for another country like Canada, deemed better for raising a family. Then the “Have Nots” with the predictable gut wrenching interviews with left behind children and their migrant worker parents busy creating that economic miracle. There was John in Beijing, interviewing a desolate home owner who had his property destroyed to make way for “a rather dodgy sounding property development” and then he was off to interview Petitioners swarming round him with their pathetic documents, explaining to British viewers in his calm English way that “the Chinese Government has been rather clever in making the Provinces responsible for regulations so they can avoid being blamed by the people for violations”. Yes, it was a start in showcasing the huge deficit in human rights in China today to BBC viewers and also on BBC Radio 4. I wonder how long before his visa is again refused.

  3. Yaxue C. says:

    An attorney from Shenzhen (Pang Kun, 庞琨) arrived in Xiao Yong’s hometown Saturday afternoon. He met with Xiao Yong’s father who granted him the Power of Attorney. While he was speaking with the father, two men from the Neighborhood Committee were present watching them. As soon as Pang left the house of Xiao Yong’s father, a few men seized him and shoved him into a car without showing any ID or document. Nor did their car have a license plate. They took Pang to a police station and interrogated him (of course they were policemen but wouldn’t show him who they were). Pang wasn’t freed until later that night. It’s unclear whether he was able to proceed with his work with Xiao Yong’s case. From my report, we learned that the PSB gave Xiao Yong three days to request for a review of his case, but in reality, this was what his lawyer encounted.

  4. […] Horse Lexicon China Activist Gets Hard Labor without TrialHunan activist Xiao Yong has been sentenced without trial to reform-through-labor after opposing government handling of fellow dissident Li Wangyang’s death. He had already earned […]

  5. […] After high school, he worked in Guangzhou while taking classes at Sun Yat-sen University. On March 30, 2012, he and five others demonstrated in the street of Guangzhou, holding signs reading “No vote, no […]

  6. […] China Retaliates against Activist […]

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