Chinese authorities have intensified their crackdown on rights defense activists. Human Rights in China (HRIC) has learned that the family of Beijing lawyer Tang Jitian (唐吉田) has not heard from him since he was taken away from his home by police on February 16, more than 48 hours ago. Tang was apprehended after he attended a meeting concerning the case of Chen Guangcheng (陈光诚), the blind lawyer in Shandong who has been under house arrest since his release from prison in September 2010. In Hubei, Yao Lifa (姚立法), a democracy activist and former deputy to the Qianjiang Municipal People’s Congress, was abducted on February 12 and held for seven days by people whom he believed were acting on behalf of government authorities. Yao was released on February 18.
Around noon on February 16, Tang Jitian and more than a dozen other rights defense lawyers, journalists, and rights defenders met at a Beijing restaurant to discuss how to help Chen Guangcheng. Attorney Jiang Tianyong (江天勇) said that later that afternoon,
Beijing rights defender Ye Jinghuan (野靖环) witnessed a policeman forcing the door to Tang's home open and taking Tang away. That evening, several rights defense lawyers and Tang’s friends went to the Guanganmen local police substation to inquire about Tang. They were told that Tang had been taken away by the State Security Brigade of the Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau. Tang’s cell phone has been shut off, and his family and friends do not know of his whereabouts.
Jiang Tianyong said that Tang’s colleagues and friends fear that Tang may be subjected to torture.
On February 16, Jiang Tianyong himself was also taken away by the police and was beaten inside a police station. On the following day, he was taken by police officers to his parents’ home in Changping, near Beijing, and has not been allowed to leave their home. As far as he knows, lawyers Li Heping (李和平), Teng Biao (滕彪), Li Xiongbing (黎雄兵), Xu Zhiyong (许志永), and others all have had their freedom restricted as well. Jiang said that lawyer Li Fangping (李方平) is staying away from his home, as he is aware that there are currently three people stationed in front his building. Jiang believes these police actions have ostensibly been carried out to prevent activists from helping Chen Guangcheng, but at a deeper level, the reason is Egypt, Tunisia, and the Flower Revolutions.
HRIC also learned that on the evening of February 12, in Hubei, when democracy activist Yao Lifa opened his door to see why the electricity had suddenly failed, a group of men rushed in and took him to a vehicle waiting outside. Yao was then taken to several different cities in the following days, and was finally released on the evening of February 18. Currently the authorities have stationed several people and vehicles outside Yao’s home to monitor him. Yao is angry about this abduction and unlawful detention, and said he will bring a lawsuit. He believes that the actions were carried out to stop him from training independent candidates and election observers for the grassroots elections scheduled to take place throughout the country in the second half of this year. In recent years, Yao Lifa has been abducted and detained more than twenty times – six of them since the end of last year. Yao said, "I cannot surrender; I will continue my work."
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