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Dissident Zhao Changqing Charged With Subversion

June 27, 2003

For Immediate Release

Human Rights in China (HRIC) has learned that Xi’an-based dissident Zhao Changqing was formally charged with inciting subversion of state power on June 25. Zhao’s lawyer, Dou Peixin, was notified of the charge on June 26. The trial, scheduled for early July, is expected to be closed to the public.

Zhao Changqing was detained last November as one of 192 opposition activists that signed an open letter to China’s 16th Party Congress calling for political reform. He was formally arrested on December 27.

Other dissidents arrested in relation to the open letter include Ouyang Yi in Sichuan, Dai Xuezhong, Han Lifa and Sang Jiancheng in Shanghai, He Depu in Beijing, and Jiang Lijun in Liaoning Province. The majority of those detained remain in custody.

The open letter, which was drafted by Zhao Changqing, made six political demands, including reassessment of the 1989 democracy movement; allowing political exiles to return to China; restoring Zhao Ziyang’s political rights and releasing him from house arrest; releasing all prisoners of conscience; pushing the National People’s Congress to ratify the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and bringing domestic law into conformity with international treaties; and expanding democratic elections from the villages and municipalities to national elections.

Zhao Changqing, aged 36, studied history at Shaanxi Normal University, participated in the 1989 democracy movement, and was arrested and imprisoned for half a year after June 4. In 1997, Zhao ran for election as a local people’s representative, but after he protested the local government’s open violation of election laws he was arrested for endangering state security and sentenced for three years in prison. Following his release in March 2001 Zhang lost his job as a middle school teacher but continued to promote human rights and democratic reform.

Zhao was already suffering from tuberculosis prior to his latest arrest, and his condition has deteriorated in custody.

HRIC reiterates its strong objection to the arrest of Zhao Changqing and others for their peaceful expression of political views. HRIC calls for the immediate release of Zhao Changqing, Ouyang Yi, Dai Xuezhong, Han Lifa, Sang Jiancheng, He Depu, Jiang Lijun and all other detained signatories of the open letter.

For more information, contact:
Stacy Mosher 212-268-9074 (English)
Liu Qing 22-239-4495 (Chinese)