China: Website founder detained in latest phase of 'concerted campaign of intimidation'
The Chinese authorities must immediately release the founder of a human rights website who has been detained following a police raid on his home, Amnesty International said today.
Huang Qi is the founder of the website 64 Tianwang, which focuses on human rights issues in China for a mainland Chinese audience and is run by hundreds of volunteers. His arrest is the latest in a series of raids against individuals who write for 64 Tianwang. All have been accused of "picking quarrels and provoking troubles”, a charge that carries a sentence of up to ten years’ imprisonment.
Last week, three ‘citizen journalists’ who write for the website were detained after they reported on a security crackdown in Beijing during the National People’s Congress, China’s annual parliamentary session which closed on Thursday.
They had published reports on the website about the actions of protestors at Tiananmen Square on 5 March. They described and provided photos of a woman who tried to set herself on fire after distributing some flyers. According to their report, four men quickly extinguished the fire and took the woman away. They also wrote about several other incidents of protestors being taken away.
All of the arrested 64 Tianwang contributors are considered prisoners of conscience.
Huang Qi was taken away by 11 police officers in Chengdu, south west China, at around 3pm local time on Thursday. Police also seized computers, mobile phones and USB sticks.
William Nee, Amnesty’s China researcher, commented:
“There now appears to be a concerted campaign of intimidation by the Chinese authorities against those associated with the 64 Tianwang website.
“Once again the authorities have shown their intent to stifle debate on human rights within China.
“These are spurious charges against Huang Qi and others detained solely for their work for 64 Tianwang. They must be immediately released.”