Chinese journalist vows to fight for anti-graft detainees
|Publisher||Radio Free Asia|
|Publication Date||5 August 2013|
|Cite as||Radio Free Asia, Chinese journalist vows to fight for anti-graft detainees, 5 August 2013, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/5202155c14.html [accessed 9 December 2016]|
By Luisetta Mudie
An undated file photo of Xu Zhiyong. Eyepress News
A veteran journalist held by China's state security police after being "kidnapped" in Beijing has vowed to continue his campaign for the release of anti-corruption activist Xu Zhiyong.
Chen Min, best known by his pen-name Xiao Shu, was detained by Beijing's state security police on Friday and taken back to his hometown of Guangzhou at the weekend, where he was held at a guesthouse until Sunday lunchtime, he said in an online statement following his release.
"This extralegal forced measure owed to my coming to the aid of Xu Zhiyong and 15 other participants in the New Citizens' [anti-corruption] Movement," Chen wrote in comments translated by the Hong Kong University's China Media Project.
"I lost my freedom for 48 hours. I was first illegally abducted ... then held illegally at the Xiaoyingzhou Hotel in Guangzhou's Panyu District," he wrote. "At no point were any legal procedures undertaken."
Chen said the detention of Xu and 15 other activists who had called on China's leaders to reveal details of their assets constituted an attack on China's nascent civil society.
"The suppression of Xu Zhiyong and the 15 other participants in the New Citizen's Movement is in fact the suppression of civil society, and it is impossible to tolerate," Chen said. "Each day that Xu Zhiyong and the 15 other participants in the New Citizen's Movement remain un-free is a day that I will continue to give this issue attention and come to their aid."
"I am willing to pay the price for Xu Zhiyong and the 15 other participants in the New Citizen's Movement, and for the building of a civil society," his statement said.
He called on the administration of President Xi Jinping to release all prisoners of conscience, to abolish illegal abductions and secret detentions.
The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) also hit out at Chen's detention, which came hard on the heels of an order to close down more than 100 Chinese websites.
More than 100 privately run websites have been shut down since May 9, according to a recent report in the Chinese-language Beijing News.
"Several of the sites covered general news, or acted as news portals for citizen journalists," the CPJ said in a statement on its website.
"China's online and social media sites are important sources of news and serve as an alternative to government-censored news sources," it said.
Some of the closed sites were accused of "blackmailing" companies or individuals by threatening to publish negative information about them, according to the Beijing News, although the government has published no evidence in support of its claims.
"The detention of Xiao Shu and the closure of so many websites are part of a broader crackdown on critics of the government in China," CPJ Asia program coordinator Bob Dietz said in a statement.
"We urge President Xi Jinping's government to recognize the importance of independent journalists and news outlets as part of the reform process it promised when it came into office."
Leading transparency campaigner Xu Zhiyong was detained by Beijing police in July on charges of disrupting public order, in a widening crackdown on activists who have called on government leaders to declare their assets, activists and lawyers said at the time.
Xu, a key figure in the nascent "New Citizens" anti-corruption movement, is currently being held in the Beijing No. 3 Detention Center.
A teacher at the Beijing Postal University who has served as a delegate to the Haidian district-level People's Congress, Xu has also been active in fighting for the rights of the children of migrant workers to be educated and to sit exams in the capital.
His pro-democracy group, the Open Constitution Initiative, was banned after Xu was targeted by the authorities for "tax evasion" in 2009. He has been repeatedly called in for questioning and held under house arrest since then.