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Zhao Mourner Charged

January 31, 2005

For Immediate Release

DATE: January 31, 2005

Human Rights in China (HRIC) has learned that a Shanghai resident, Xu Zhengqing, has been formally arrested after attempting to mourn the death of ousted Party Secretary Zhao Ziyang in Beijing.

According to HRIC’s sources, Xu Zhengqing was among 22 people, including Wang Qiaojuan, Zheng Peipei and Chen Xiuqin, who on the evening of January 27 departed by train from Shanghai to express their condolences for Zhao Ziyang in Beijing. Sources say that early on the morning of January 29, as the group set off to attend the memorial service for Zhao at Babaoshan Cemetery, they were surrounded by dozens of police officers, who bundled them into police vans and transported them to the PSB dispatch station west of Zhongnanhai. At the police station the detainees were searched, and police confiscated photos of Zhao Ziyang that they had received when they paid their respects outside of Zhao Ziyang’s home the day before.

That same evening, sources say, police took the Shanghai group to the train station and put them on a train bound for Shanghai. At that time, Xu Zhengqing challenged the police by saying, “What is the crime in mourning Zhao Ziyang?” Sources say a Shanghai police officer named He Lianglin, Security Section Chief Zhang Jun and others responded by severely beating Xu. Sources say that upon arrival in Shanghai, the other 21 mourners were released shortly after being delivered to their neighborhood PSB dispatch stations. However, Xu Zhengqing was detained for more than 50 hours, and around noon on January 31 his wife was notified that the Putuo District PSB Division had charged Xu with “suspicion of creating a disturbance in a public place and transport depot.”

Xu Zhengqing is one of hundreds of Shanghai residents displaced by a major redevelopment project, and has for some time been petitioning for residents’ rights. Xu was among 700-800 petitioners protesting over redevelopment issues outside a meeting of the Shanghai municipal People’s Congress on January 17, the day of Zhao Ziyang’s death. HRIC’s sources say that most of the petitioners were unaware of Zhao’s death at the time, but the PSB seemed to be anticipating trouble and had deployed some 1,000 police officers to the scene. HRIC’s sources say police ended up rounding up several hundred of the petitioners, and beat and injured a number of them, including Xu Zhengqing.

“There is no indication that these Shanghai residents were intending anything but a peaceful expression of their sorrow over the death of Zhao Ziyang,” said HRIC president Liu Qing. “The Shanghai and Beijing authorities have seriously overreacted to this situation, and Xu Zhengqing should be immediately released from custody.”