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Scholar Wang Daqi Sentenced to Prison

January 16, 2003

For Immediate Release
January 16, 2003

Human Rights in China (HRIC) has learned that an elderly scholar, Wang Daqi, has been sentenced to prison for publishing political writings.

According to several sources in China, Wang Daqi, aged 70 and formerly a professor at Hefei Industrial University, was sentenced on December 19, 2002 by the Hefei Intermediate Court to one year in prison on charges of “inciting the overthrow of state power.” The evidence raised against Wang in support of the charge were articles he published in his magazine Ecology, including an article entitled “On the 35th Anniversary of the Cultural Revolution,” originally published in a Hong Kong magazine, and selections from the realistic novel Blood Red, Snow White.

At the time of Wang’s arrest on January 24, 2002 the Public Security Bureau stated that Wang was being held under Article 109 of China’s Criminal Law, which relates to “personnel of a state organ, who during the time of performing his public functions, leaves his post without authorization and defects from the country.” According to sources, the court was unable to convict Wang of this crime, and no mention was made of the original charge during his trial.

Wang’s wife, Feng Suhua, was granted permission to visit Wang at the detention center on January 15. It was the first time since Wang’s arrest nearly a year ago that he was allowed a family visit. Wang’s lawyer told Feng Suhua that Wang would be released on February 6. The release date counts Wang’s detention prior to sentencing as time served. This is calculated not from the date of his secret arrest on January 24, 2002, but from the date his family was notified of his arrest on February 7, 2002.

According to HRIC’s sources, Wang Daqi was arrested just after he left his home to do some shopping in January 2002, and was secretly detained for several days. Seven or eight police officers subsequently searched Wang’s home and confiscated his personal journals, magazines, postcards, telephone diaries, bills, and a valuable antique map. Feng Suhua has repeatedly requested the return of the map, but the Public Security Bureau neither acknowledges nor denies having taken it, and to date the map has not been returned.
According to HRIC’s sources, Wang Daqi is currently being detained in a cell with more than twenty other prisoners in unspeakable conditions. Wang has previously been diagnosed with abnormal heartbeat and cerebral anemia, and has fainted several times during his imprisonment.

Wang Daqi was a professor of construction at Hefei Industrial University, and is regarded as an expert on the ecology of Chao Lake in Anhui Province. He received provincial awards for his
scholarship in 1987 and 1988, and also served as a member of China’s University Civil Engineering Studies Committee. Wang became the editor of the magazine Ecology in 1987, and eventually added social ecology to the topics covered by his magazine, considering human rights and democracy the necessary attributes of a healthy society. The magazine attracted notice from China’s security apparatus, and in 1997 Security Bureau police demanded that Wang cease publication. But in spite of official threats Wang persevered in publishing Ecology.

HRIC deplores the Chinese government’s suppression of free expression and its harsh action against even such an elderly scholar as Wang Daqi. HRIC president Liu Qing says, “This persecution of Wang Daqi demonstrates yet again that the Chinese government is completely intolerant of freedom of the press and expression. It’s disheartening to see that since Hu Jintao became Party Secretary he seems determined to crack down even more harshly on free expression than before.”

HRIC calls on the Chinese government to carry out a review of all prisoners currently serving sentences for “inciting the overthrow of state power,” and to release those found to have been charged on the basis of peaceful expresssion of political views.

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