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China: Number of human rights activists detained or imprisoned is rising

The report, featuring cases as recent as February this year, updates a December report on the risks faced by human rights activists in China.

Ye Guozhu, a housing rights activist in Beijing, was sentenced to four years’ imprisonment on 18 December 2004. He had been detained in August 2004 after applying for permission to hold a mass protest against forced evictions in Beijing. He and his family were reportedly forcibly evicted from their home in 2003 to make way for construction work in connection with the Beijing 2008 Olympics.

Writer, poet and journalist Shi Tao was detained on 24 November 2004 on charges which appear to relate to the text of a central government order barring media organizations in China from marking the 15th anniversary of the Tiananmen crackdown, which Shi Tao was accused of posting on an overseas website.

Other arrests cited in the report relate to activists in the areas of HIV/aids, labour and religious rights.

Amnesty International UK Campaigns Director Stephen Bowen said:

"A growing number of brave individuals in China are standing up and demanding the basic rights that we in Europe take for granted. For doing so, they face arrest, torture and even death.

"As Europe prepares to scrap the arms embargo put in place after the Tiananmen crackdown, it should consider what message this sends out to people still being persecuted in China because they stand up for freedom."

The reason for some of the detentions featured appears to be to prevent people from mourning the death of former premier and general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party Zhao Ziyang and publicising the impunity surrounding the 1989 Tiananmen crackdown.

One of the leaders of the group known as the "Tiananmen Mothers", Ding Zilin, who has campaigned tirelessly for an independent inquiry into the 1989 pro-democracy demonstrations, was placed under a form of house arrest in Beijing on 27 January 2005 after she had requested permission to pay her respects to Zhao Ziyang.

Download the update to the report

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