Friday, September 26, 2008

Olympic Activist Detained by China Police

Via IHT (AP) -

A Chinese activist who applied to protest in special zones set up for demonstrations during the Beijing Olympics has become the latest applicant to be detained by police, a rights group said Friday.

Ji Sizun disappeared Aug. 11, three days into the Olympic Games, and hasn't been seen since, the overseas Chinese Human Rights Defenders group said. On Thursday, police from Fuzhou City in southeastern Fujian province told a friend of Ji's that he had been detained, the group said.

It was not clear when he was taken into police custody.

A man surnamed Teng at the legal department of the Fuzhou City public security bureau said he did not know of Ji's case. He said his bureau only deals with people once there is a case against them, and Ji might have been detained by lower-level agency.

The five other local police bureaus in the city said they had not heard of Ji's case.

Detentions in China can last weeks or even months and do not always lead to a person being arrested or criminally charged.

In July, China said those who applied would be allowed to protest during the Olympics in three parks far away from the main venues. But no applications were approved and China detained some who applied, even threatening to send two elderly women to a labor camp.

Ji went to a Beijing police station on Aug. 9 to apply for a permit to protest social and political problems but was told that because it was a Saturday he could not apply. He returned two days later to apply and has not been seen since, according to the rights group.

Chinese Human Rights Defenders said another activist, Liu Xueli, had been under surveillance since he applied to protest at the Olympics and was dragged into a police car Tuesday in central Henan province.

The group said Liu was told he would be sent to a re-education camp. It said he was not given the reason for his punishment or presented with a written order.

The group did not say how it was told about Liu.

The re-education system allows police to sidestep a criminal trial or a formal charge and directly send people to prison for up to four years of penal labor. Critics say it is misused to detain political or religious activists, and violates suspects' rights.

The director of the legal office of Song County's public security bureau, in Henan province, surnamed Tai, said he did not know who was handling Liu's case and did not know if Liu had been detained.

The Chinese government has said the Olympics were a resounding success, but New York-based Human Rights Watch has said the games led to a surge in arrests, detentions and harassment of government critics.

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