Beijing: It has been reported that in the week following Liu Xiaobo’s awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize, dozens of people who openly agreed with him have been detained, beaten, harassed or put under house arrest.
The latest in a string of arrests appears to be Ding Zilin (pictured right), who has been reported missing by Liu’s wife, Liu Xia, late Thursday evening (14th October). Ding Zilin, fought openly with the Chinese government for many years to get public recognition for the hundreds killed in the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989. Ding had been warned before the peace prize not to give interviews by the Chinese police. Her mobile and land phones in Beijing and the city of Wuxi, where she was last heard from, appear disconnected. Liu’s wife sent out the announcement on her detainment saying that Ding had “disappeared” and urged people to “pay attention” to her case.
The members who signed the Charter 08 have also experienced increased harassment. Charter 08 called for a multi-party democracy and respect for human rights in the entire of China, the document was signed by more than 300 Chinese intellectuals, academics and writers. Writer Zhao Shiying, when asked if he would like to comment Liu’s award said “I’m so sorry. I have a lot to say, but I don’t dare to talk. I’ve been confronted several times by police already since Liu Xiaobo won the prize.” He added “Anyone who signed the charter” is getting police attention, he said. “I hope you understand this life we lead.”
Many of these signatories have received very threatening phone calls from Chinese police as they prepared an open letter on Thursday night calling for Liu’s immediate release. The letter, signed by more than 100 Chinese intellectuals, called upon the “Chinese authorities to approach Liu Xiaobo’s Nobel Prize with realism and reason.” It also asks police to stop “these illegal actions.”
Since the award increasing numbers of dissidents have reported police threats and harassment. Including Fan Yafeng, a Beijing based activist who informed the media that he had been beaten by police, saying that he is under constant police surveillance. Zhou Duo, an activist that took part in the Tiananmen Square demonstrations stated that security officers have put him under house arrest, as he prepared to attend a celebratory dinner on October 9th in honor of Liu’s Nobel Peace Prize. Dissident author Yu Jie, on returning from America on Thursday (14th October) had his bags heavily searched and was told that from now onwards he was to have a police escort everywhere he travels. “There are three domestic security cops who are watching me. When I am home, they are downstairs; when I go out, I have to go in their car. Now I am in the supermarket buying stuff and they are here as well,” he said
“We are increasingly concerned about the escalation of measures taken against dissidents and activists at the moment,” said Nicholas Bequelin, Asia researcher at Human Rights Watch. He added: “There is a flagrant contradiction. On the one hand they argue the Nobel should not be awarded to a criminal. At the same time they are implementing unlawful measures against dozens of people, including Liu Xia.”
Governmental pressures also continue on Liu’s wife, who has remained under house arrest inside her Beijing apartment since October 10th. The law firm that represents Liu said on Thursday that they can’t even talk with Liu Xia about the case. Mo Shaoping, one of the firm’s lawyers, said when he invited her to the law firm to discuss whether to appeal her husband’s sentence; Liu Xia said police wouldn’t allow it. The phone was then cut off. Liu Xia, meanwhile, has used social networking site Twitter to state that police want to take her out of Beijing, and away from the media attention, on “a tour.”