Sunday, August 18, 2013

Prominent Advocate Held in Southern China August 17, 2013 Prominent Advocate Held in Southern China By CHRIS BUCKLEY HONG KONG — The police in southern China have detained an outspoken advocate of democratic rights on charges of disrupting public order, his lawyer and human rights groups said Saturday. They called his detention another step in a government effort to stifle dissidents who have challenged the Communist Party over censorship and officials’ wealth. The advocate, Yang Maodong, who is better known by his pen name, Guo Feixiong, was detained on Aug. 8, but the police notified his family only on Saturday, his lawyer, Sui Muqing, said by telephone from the city of Guangzhou, where Mr. Yang also lives. Chinese Human Rights Defenders, an international advocacy group, also reported Mr. Yang’s detention on its Web site, and it posted a copy of the police notice listing charges of “assembling a crowd to disrupt order in a public place.” Mr. Yang, 47, is the second well-known member of China’s “rights defense” movement to be arrested recently. In mid-July, the police in Beijing arrested Xu Zhiyong, a legal advocate who has also long been a prominent member of that loose campaign, which seeks to expand citizens’ rights through litigation, petitions, publicity and training. “I think the general reason is that the authorities are putting pressure on many dissidents, and Yang Maodong is one of them,” Mr. Sui said. “I think the direct reason may be his involvement in the protests at the Southern Weekend.” Mr. Yang was among a group of activists who gathered near the offices of the newspaper Southern Weekend in Guangzhou in January, offering encouragement to reporters and editors there who were protesting what they called heavy-handed censorship of an editorial. The government gave some ground to the protesting journalists. But since then, the Communist Party authorities have tightened media and Internet controls and sought to rein in dissidents. The police have brought Mr. Yang in for questioning about the Southern Weekend protests and other issues several times since March, Mr. Sui said. Mr. Yang, formerly a novelist and a businessman involved in publishing, has been among the members of China’s human rights advocacy movement who favor a more combative approach and more ambitious demands. He first became widely known in 2005, as an organizer of villagers on the outskirts of Guangzhou protesting official corruption and land seizures. In 2007, he was sentenced to five years in prison on charges of illegal publishing activities, although he and his supporters maintained that the charges were a baseless excuse to silence him. He was released in late 2011, having already served some of his sentence in detention before his conviction. Mr. Sui said he would try to meet with Mr. Yang, who is being held in a detention center in Guangzhou. If Mr. Yang is formally charged, indicted and convicted, he could be sentenced to up to five years in prison. “It’s still too early to know what will happen to him,” Mr. Sui said. Jonathan Ansfield contributed reporting from Beijing. © 2012 The New York Times Company Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218. Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at] Go to "The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

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