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Internet Activist Ouyang Yi Formally Arrested

January 15, 2003

For Immediate Release

Human Rights in China (HRIC) has learned that political dissident and Internet activist Ouyang Yi has been formally arrested, making him the latest victim in the Chinese government’s crackdown against political expression on the Internet.

Sources in China, including several people close to Ouyang Yi, told HRIC that the Public Security Bureau of Sichuan’s provincial capital, Chengdu, on January 7 charged Ouyang with “inciting the overthrow of the state power.” Ouyang is reportedly being detained in the Sichuan Province No. 1 Detention Center. If convicted, Ouyang faces a prison sentence of up to 15 years. The formal arrest papers were not delivered to Ouyang’s wife, Luo Bizhen, but rather to his sister, who lives in Chengdu. Luo Bizhen is now borrowing money from friends to hire a lawyer to represent Ouyang in trial.

Chengdu Public Security police originally arrested Ouyang Yi on December 4, 2002, and on December 5 notified his family that he was being detained. Soon afterwards police carried out a search at Ouyang’s home and confiscated a number of documents, many of which were articles that Ouyang had posted in the Internet. Sources familiar with the case told HRIC that Ouyang was arrested not only for his Internet activities, but also for his participation in an open letter delivered to the 16th Party Congress in November. To date at least seven of the 192 dissidents who signed the open letter have been arrested.

Ouyang Yi, born in 1968, graduated from Sichuan’s Chuanbei Teacher’s Institute and was a teacher at a secondary school in Suining. Ouyang was a classmate and close friend of Liu Xianbin, a well-known Sichuan dissident who in 1999 was sentenced to 13 years in prison for “conspiracy to overthrow the state power.” Ouyang had previously participated in a number of open letters and petitions calling for the release of prisoners of conscience. His activism resulted in his being arrested and interrogated on a number of occasions, including a three-month illegal detention. In 1999 Ouyang and his family were evicted from their home, and Ouyang lost his teaching position. His recent arrest comes around the same time as those of Liu Di, Li Yibin, and Tao Haidong, who like Ouyang were active in posting political views and criticisms of the Chinese government on the Internet.

HRIC president Liu Qing observes, “The laying of formal charges against Ouyang Yi demonstrates that the Chinese government is stepping up its pressure against the expression of dissenting political views, whether in petitions or on the Internet. It could be that the new leadership feels a need to show it means business and is not going to take a soft line on human rights. Throughout China’s history new regimes have typically initiated their reigns with harsh measures to demonstrate their power. We saw it with Hua Guofeng and Jiang Zemin, and now Hu Jintao seems to be following a similar pattern.”

HRIC calls on the international community to express its concern over these arrests and discourage the Chinese authorities from demonstrating its authority through political repression.

For more information, contact:
Stacy Mosher (English) 212-268-9074
Liu Qing (Chinese) 212-239-4495