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Olympic prisoners

Published on 31 July 2009

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Scores of Chinese journalists, bloggers and human rights activists were arrested, put under house arrested or expelled from Beijing before and during the Olympic Games. The Games have now finished and we call for their release!

Hu Jia was sentenced to three and a half years in prison on 3 April 2008, for posting articles on websites and giving interviews to foreign journalists. He had criticised the poor state of freedom of expression before the Games. Hu was arrested on 27 December 2007, for “inciting subversion of state power” before being tried by a Beijing court on 18 March. His wife, Zeng Jinyan, and their young daughter are under house arrest in Beijing.

Yang Chulin : Main mover of the campaign “We want human rights not Olympic games”, Yang Chunlin was sentenced on 24 March 2008 to five years in prison, followed by two years loss of civil rights by the intermediate court of Jiamusi, in the north-east, for "inciting subversion of state power”. He was maltreated during the early period of his detention.

Yu Changwu et Wang Guilin : Activists Wang Guilin and Yu Changwu are in custody for having taken part in Yang Chunlin’s campaign “We want human rights not Olympic Games". Wang Guilin was sentenced on 28 January 2008, to 18 months re-education through work.

Du Daobin : Writer Du Daobin was arrested in Yingcheng on 21 July 2008 by the authorities in Hubei province, central China. Local police were apparently reacting to his stance ahead of the Games. He was found guilty of “inciting subversion of the state" and sentenced on 11 June 2004 to three years in prison, followed by four years house arrest. Du Daobin posted a number of pro-democracy articles online and some urging greater freedom of expression in China. He actively called for the release of Liu Di, a young student imprisoned in 2003 for pro-democracy articles she posted on Internet forums.

Wang Guilan : Petitioner and human rights activist, Wang Guilan, was sentenced to 15-months re-education through work on 28 August 2008 for agreeing to a telephone interview with a foreign journalist the previous month. Wang had been arrested in Beijing on 28 February 2008, after writing an open letter on human rights ahead of the Olympic, which attracted more than 12,000 signatures. From 17 April, she was placed in a prison in Hubei to prevent any activities during the Olympics. She is currently being held in Enshi, Hubei. She has been arrested several times since 2001.

Zhang Wenhe : Pro-democracy activist Zhang Wenhe waved a banner in Beijing streets in October 2007, that read, “We want human rights and democracy and not the fascist Olympic Games” that led to his arrest and forced incarceration in a psychiatric hospital.

Zheng Mingfang : Human rights activist, Zheng Mingfang, was sent to a re-education through work camp for two years at the beginning of April 2008, because of an open letter she wrote about the Olympics. She was arrested by the authorities in Beijing on 29 February 2008, shortly before a parliamentary session. She is reportedly being held in Xian district in Tianjin, east of the capital. She is beginning to go blind and was reportedly ill-treated during her period in detention. Her husband has spoken about the methods used by the authorities since her arrest to prevent her from communicating with foreigners “a central condition of Zheng’s release”, according to district police officials.

Chen Guangcheng : Chen Guangcheng, the blind activist and self-trained lawyer who defended the poor in Shandong province and investigated serious human rights abuses including allegations of forced abortions, was released in September after completing a sentence of four years and 3 months in prison. But Chen is in poor health and he is not really free. The police are keeping a close watch on him and have even installed surveillance cameras near his home. While he was in prison, the authorities isolated his wife and kept his relatives and friends under constant surveillance.

Dhondup Wangchen et Jigme Gyatso : Dhondup Wangchen, director of a documentary on Tibet, has been held since March 2008 for interviewing Tibetans, particularly in the Amdo region. The film based on the work of Dhondup Wangchen is a 25-minute short entitled Leaving Fear Behind (www.leavingfearbehind.com), which was shown during the Olympic Games. In it, Tibetans in the Amdo region gave their opinions about the Dalai Lama, the Olympics and Chinese law. Dhondup Wangchen has been sentenced to a long term jail sentence.

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