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China Detains Prominent Artist and Dissident

September 15, 2004

In the lead up to the meeting of the Central Party Committee of the 16th Party Congress, Human Rights in China (HRIC) has learned that Yan Zhengxue, a well-known artist and dissident has been secretly detained by police from the State Security Department.

According to HRIC sources, at 2:35 in the afternoon of September 14, police from the Zhejiang Province State Security Department took Yan Zhengxue away by car. His wife, Chun Liu, has confirmed that she lost contact with him several days ago.

Yan had sued the Beijing and Zhejiang Public Security Departments and the heads of those departments, Zhou Yongkang, as well as the Jiaojiang district Public Security Substation and the head of that office, Zhao Ming in the Beijing Number 2 Intermediate Court and the Jiaojiang District Court in Zhejiang. After being threatened by Zhu Yongjie, a Procuratorate in Taizhou City, Yan went to the Zhejiang local police to ask for protection. According to HRIC sources, the police not only refused to help but also attempted to slander Yan's reputation.

Yan has also been politically active in the past, including organizing a petition together with Li Guotai, calling for the elimination of the Reeducation Through Labor (RTL) system in China. According to HRIC sources, although Yan had initiated his current suit against the authorities in June of this year, Yan's present detention reflects an effort by the authorities to prevent any trouble during this politically sensitive time. In addition, Yan, Li Guotai and others had initiated a global petition campaign against the RTL administrative provisions as violating human rights.

HRIC condemns the detention of Yan Zhengxue and calls on the Chinese government to release him and respect his political and legal rights to seek redress in the Chinese judicial system.