Human Rights in China (HRIC) has learned that in recent days, many members of the Guizhou Human Rights Symposium have been detained, summoned for questioning, or even beaten by police authorities in Guiyang, Guizhou Province. The group has been openly planning activities to commemorate the 21st anniversary of the June Fourth government crackdown on the 1989 democracy movement. Despite the police actions, members of the group said that they will not abandon their right to commemorate June Fourth and that the group will continue to fight the official suppression.
The Guizhou group began its preparations for June Fourth commemorative activities in April this year. On May 9, more than ten members had planned to hold a discussion meeting in the city’s Nanjiao Park, but the police prevented some of them from leaving their homes and detained others. Among those detained, Chen Xi (陈西), Liao Shuangyuan (廖双元), Wu Yuqin (吴玉琴), Huang Yanming (黄燕明), Mo Jiangang (莫建刚), Wang Zang (王藏), and Xu Guoqing (徐国庆) were kept for more than ten hours, and Mo Jiangang was beaten at the police station.
Beginning May 24, three days after the group’s weekly meeting during which members discussed plans for seminars, lectures, and a memorial service, three group members – Mo Jiangang, Xu Guoqing, and Du Heping (杜和平) – were detained by the police for three days, while others were summoned by the public security bureau, including Chen Xi, Wu Yuqin, Xu Guoqing, Du Heping, and Li Renke (李仁科). In addition, Li Renke was threatened by the police that if he participates in any June Fourth commemorative activities, he would not be allowed to set up his peddler’s stand. Li Renke does not have a steady job, and he makes his living by peddling.
The group had scheduled its next meeting for May 28, at Hebin Park. In the days before the meeting, the police kept close surveillance on many group members, blocked communication between them, and summoned Huang Yanming and Chen Xi for questioning.
On the afternoon of May 28, the authorities sent a large number of police officers to surround Hebin Park, to prevent the meeting from taking place. Group members attempting to enter the park, including Chen Xi, Yong Zhiming (雍志明), Pan Furao (潘福荛), Lu Yongxiang (卢勇祥), Fan Houcheng (范厚成), Tian Zuxiang (田祖湘), Cheng Yang’e (成阳娥), Yang Kaixin (杨开新), Zhu Zhengyuan (朱正元), Quan Linzhi (全林志), Dong Dezhu (董德筑), Zhang Zhongfa (张重发), Tao Yuping (陶玉平), and Mei Chongpiao (糜崇骠), were either driven out or packed into a police vehicle and taken away.
The Guizhou group said that it will not change its plan and that it intends to hold a memorial service at Hebin Park on June 4. Chen Xi said, “We expected the government’s attempts to shut down any commemoration of June Fourth. This is the nature of an authoritarian regime. But we cannot give in to their pressure, and our every effort is itself a commemoration of June Fourth. This is how we have chosen to commemorate it. Human rights in China will not come without a struggle.”
The Guizhou Human Rights Symposium is an active civil society organization whose key members have long been engaged in democracy and rights defense activities. Chen Xi previously served three years in prison for forming the [Guizhou] Patriotic and Democratic Federation during the 1989 democracy movement. In 1996, Chen organized and then formed the Guizhou branch of the China Democracy Party in an attempt to seek political rehabilitation for the participants of the 1989 movement. He was sentenced to ten years in prison for “counter-revolutionary crimes.” On June 4, 1995, Huang Yanming, also a participant of the 1989 movement, and Lu Yongxiang distributed in Tiananmen Square an open letter requesting political reform and rehabilitation of June Fourth victims. Because of their activities, they each served five years in prison on charges of “counter-revolutionary crimes.” Du Heping was sentenced to three years for collecting signatures for the “Public Support of the Students Patriotic Democracy Movement” campaign in 1989 and for organizing public demonstrations.
Human Rights in China urges that the Guiyang authorities immediately stop the suppression of the Guizhou Human Rights Symposium and its peaceful activities to commemorate June Fourth, and guarantee the rights of the Chinese people to freedom of expression and assembly, rights that are protected under the Chinese Constitution and international law.
For more information about the rights defenders in Guizhou, see: