Online Petition Calls for Release of Pro-Reform Demonstrators in South China
A San Francisco-based Chinese activist has started an online petition calling for the release of several activists who were arrested in China a week ago for holding a peaceful demonstration in the south Chinese city of Guangzhou.
The most well-known of the arrested activists is human rights advocate Xiao Yong. On March 31, Xiao Yong and a small group of people carried banners down a street in Guangzhou, showing their support for political reform and specifically for the recent statements of Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao.
Among the messages carried by the demonstrators were "fairness, justice, freedom", and "no votes, no future." Other messages called for the Chinese leaders to disclose their financial assets.
Xiao Yong uploaded pictures of the demonstration online, along with a message of support.
A few days later, on the afternoon of April 2, state security agents arrested Xiao Yong and several other young men who had been in the demonstration. Xiao Yong's house was also searched and his computer was taken.
The next day, Xiao Yong's wife obtained a copy of her husband's arrest warrant from the Guangzhou city police department, which stated that Xiao Yong had been detained for participating in an “unlawful assembly”. The warrant said he was currently being held at Guangzhou City's Number One Detention Center.
Liu Xiaoyuan, a Beijing lawyer, said there is no basis in Chinese law for detention based on "unlawful assembly" unless there is evidence that the assembly violated a specific statute, or was likely to cause an actual social disturbance.
[Liu Xiaoyuan, Beijing Lawyer]:
“Any action against a suspect must be based on legal evidence. You can't accuse people of a crime and arrest them for simply holding up a few banners. I suspect that the police arrested them fearing that even more people would hold up banners and protest. Right now, the [Chinese regime] place 'stability' over anything else.”
On April 5, lawyer Wang Yajun went to Guangzhou's second detention center and asked to see Xiao Yong, but his request was denied. A state security agent told Wang that the case was classified. The lawyer has not been able to contact Xiao Yong or any of the other detained demonstrators.
Chinese citizen Ge Xun, who currently lives in San Francisco, started an online petition on April 3, urging the Chinese regime to release Xiao Yong. The petition has been signed by several hundred netizens.