Human Rights in China has learned that Beijing police have been using daily detentions to harass rights defender Li Jinping (李金平). These detentions began on January 2; Li is taken to a police substation each morning and kept under surveillance until 10 pm each night. The police officers allegedly admitted to him that they would be fired if they did not hold Li in the run-up to the third anniversary of the death of China’s former leader Zhao Ziyang.
Li told Human Rights in China that the Beijing police began the daily detentions after talking to his friend Qi Zhiyong (齐志勇) on the phone on January 1 about the January 17 commemoration of the third anniversary of Zhao’s death. It is unclear whether the police tapped Li’s and/or Qi’s telephone. Li’s brother confirmed that the police detained Li again the morning of January 15, and that he believes this practice will continue until January 17. Li’s brother speculated that the police do not want Li to plan any memorial activities that would cause the authorities “trouble.”
In addition to the detentions, Li and his family have been harassed in other ways. On January 1 this year, the authorities disabled the telephone connection at Li’s home. Since January 2005, when Li dedicated a room in his family’s home to Zhao Ziyang’s memory, the Beijing police have harassed him several times, particularly around the anniversary of Zhao’s death. Li, a former police officer, has also reportedly refused to comply with an eviction order because the apartment allotted to him by authorities is only half the size of his current home. On the night of January 1, a developer harassed Li’s family over a loudspeaker between 10pm and 3am.
“A ‘Free and Open Olympics’ must allow individuals to freely express their views, even if they raise sensitive issues,” said HRIC Executive Director Sharon Hom. “Chinese authorities must stop harassing Li Jinping and numerous other petitioners and human rights defenders, and respect their rights to freedom of expression as guaranteed in Chinese and international law.”