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Dissident He Depu Formally Arrested

March 3, 2003

For Immediate Release

Human Rights in China (HRIC) has learned from reliable sources that He Depu has been formally charged with inciting the overthrow of the state power. Sources say He’s charges stem from official fears of dissident political activity during the meetings of the National People’s Congress and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, now underway in Beijing.

Family members confirmed that Beijing police formally notified He Depu’s wife, Jia Jianying, of the charges against him on the evening of March 6. The warrant issued by Beijing’s Public Security Bureau is dated January 30, and the police officer responsible for He’s case, Wang Yu, told Jia Jianying that He Depu had in fact been formally arrested some time ago. No explanation was given for the delayed notification of He’s family.

He Depu was originally detained on November 4, 2002 in connection with his participation in an open letter to the 16th Party Congress signed by 192 dissidents calling for political reform. However, the public acknowledgement of He Depu’s arrest is linked by some observers to the ongoing meetings of the NPC and CPPCC. The head of China’s Ministry of State Security, Zhao Yongkang, is personally overseeing events in Beijing to ensure that the meetings proceed without disruption, and any activity by dissidents is undoubtedly being actively suppressed and discouraged.

He Depu is a veteran dissident who participated in the Democracy Wall Movement and in the formation of the China Democracy Party. Several other long-time activists and signatories of the open letter, including Zhao Changqing, Ouyang Yi, Dai Xuezhong and Jiang Lijun, have also been arrested and charged with inciting the overthrow of the state power, and are currently awaiting trial.

HRIC repeats its earlier call for the Chinese government to release He Depu, Zhao Changqing, Ouyang Yi, Dai Xuezhong and Jiang Lijun. HRIC president Liu Qing observes, “The reasonable and measured demands in the open letter do not in any way warrant the harsh action taken against the signatories. It is doubly unfair if these dissidents are being treated more harshly as a means of discouraging others from political activity at this time.”

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