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Activist Writer Wang Lixiong Dismissed from Environmental Group

February 14, 2003

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Human Rights in China (HRIC) has learned from reliable sources that writer and activist Wang Lixiong has been forced to leave his position in the Chinese environmental NGO, “Friends of Nature.”

Friends of Nature was formed in 1994, the first officially recognized environmental NGO in China. All of China’s NGOs are required to renew their official registration yearly. Sources report that at the beginning of this year when officers of Friends of Nature went to renew the organization’s registration, registry officials warned them that the Friends of Nature’s secretary was considered a “dangerous person,” implying that if Wang retained his position, Friends of Nature would not be allowed to renew its registration.

Sources say that some of the people involved in Friends of Nature decided that Wang should leave rather than endanger the organization’s ability to continue its work on environmental issues. When Wang resisted, he was dismissed from his post as secretary of the organization he had helped to found.

Sources say that Wang’s designation as a “dangerous person” arises from his recent involvement in the case of a Tibetan lama, Tenzin Delek Rinpoche, and his follower Lobsang Dhondup. Lobsang Dhongdup was executed on January 26, and on the same day, the Sichuan Higher People’s Court rejected Tenzin Delek Rinpoche’s appeal of his death sentence imposed after being convicted of separatist terrorist activities in Sichuan Province. Both cases have raised widespread international attention, in part as a result of Wang’s efforts.

Wang Lixiong, born in 1953, has been an independent writer since the early 1980s. He is the author of several novels, including one, Sky Burial, which he wrote after extensive travel in Tibet. Sky Burial is viewed by Tibetans as one of the most objective and realistic works on Tibet written by a non-Tibetan.

Wang traveled to Xinjiang in 1999 with the intention of writing about the situation there, but was detained by the Public Security Bureau. He was only released after he attempted suicide in protest and drew international attention to his plight.

Wang has also been active on environmental issues, but has not involved himself in political movements.

HRIC deplores the pressure Chinese officials put on Friends of Nature to dismiss Wang, and considers the labeling of Wang as a “dangerous person” a form of political persecution and raises concerns regarding the development of a truly independent civil society in China. HRIC president
Liu Qing observes, “The Chinese government should consider the damage it risks to China’s economy and foreign relations when it persecutes its citizens for nothing more than voicing dissenting views.”

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

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