Friday, August 15, 2008

Prisoner of the Day No. 3

Ji Sizun, 58, a self-described grassroots legal activist from Fujian province, was arrested on August 11, 2008. On August 8, Ji had applied to the Deshengmenwai police station in Beijing’s Xicheng District for a permit to hold a protest in one of the city’s three designated “protest zones.” In his application, Ji stated that the protest would call for greater participation of Chinese citizens in political processes, and denounce rampant official corruption and abuses of power. He was arrested after checking back at the police station on the status of his application, witnesses told Human Rights Watch.

Eyewitnesses said Ji entered the police station at around 10:45 a.m. on August 11. At 12:15 p.m., he was escorted out of the building and put into a dark-colored, unmarked Buick by several men who appeared to be plainclothes policemen. Ji managed to make a short call to his family to notify them he had “problems,” but has since disappeared and remains unreachable on his mobile phone.

Public demonstrations critical of the Chinese government routinely reap swift and harsh retribution from state security forces. On July 23, however, the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games (BOCOG) security director, Liu Shaowu, announced the creation of three protest zones in Beijing parks. He told reporters that: “People or protesters who want to express their personal opinions can go to do so” in line with “common practice in other countries.”

The three protest zones have so far remained empty of demonstrators.

Source: Human Rights Watch

No comments: