China Detains Prominent Human Rights Activist

Friday, September 8, 2006

By BosNewsLife News Center

BEIJING, CHINA (BosNewsLife) -- Chinese police in Beijing arrested Thursday, September 7, Hu Jia, a prominent human rights activist and close friend of a well-known detained Christian lawyer, several sources confirmed.

33-year-old Hu had worked to protect the rights of Aids sufferers and protested against the recent detention of high-profile Christian human rights attorney, Gao Zhisheng, who was taken into custody August 15 by security agents at his sister's home in Shandong province. Gao's wife and two young children have been put under house arrest, Chinese Christians and other sources said.

Hu reportedly tried to find a lawyer for Gao, whose arrest has been linked to involvement in Christian persecution cases. Gao defended House Church Pastor Cai Zhuohua late last year, which rights workers claimed, prompted a court to suspend all operations of Gao's law firm for one year since November, 2005.

On the night before his arrest, Hu apparently received a telephone call from Gao's wife, Geng He, after which telephone and internet access were cut. Soon after, more than 20 plain clothed policemen took Hu Jia from his Beijing home in Beijing, explained his wife, Zeng Jinyan, to reporters via a mobile phone.


Earlier this year Hu claimed he was detained for 41 days, to prevent him from contacting Gao,because he organized a rotating hunger-strike to protest police brutality.

After his release in March, Hu accused Chinese security forces of abducting and holding him unlawfully and said he would sue the government for improper detention.

He reportedly said that four men in an unmarked car took him away February 16 while he was on his way to a meeting and held him in a quiet area in the suburbs of Beijing.

Hu is the third prominent human rights activists arrested in recent weeks, and his wife said she believed the detention was part of "a wider crackdown" on rights campaigners. Last month, authorities also detained Chen Guangcheng, who had campaigned against forced sterilization and abortion. He was jailed for public order offences.


His lawyers were detained ahead of his trial, several news reports said. The current whereabouts of those lawyers were not immediately clear. Officials have refused to comment on these latest cases, but authorities have reportedly confirmed the August 15 detention of human rights lawyer Gao. Zeng said she believed the arrest of was part of a wider crackdown on rights campaigners.

Bob Fu, a former house church pastor who now leads religious rights group Christian Aid Association (CAA) told BosNewsLife earlier that the detentions of human rights activists and church leaders must be seen as "the litmus test to the whole world as to whether the Chinese government will truly carry out its promise to rule of the law and religious freedom," at a time when the country prepares for the World Olympic Games.

The Communist authorities have been struggling to find a balance between allowing more economic freedom without losing their power base by cracking down on house churches in several regions as well as dissidents, Chinese Christians suggest. (With BosNewsLife Research and reports from China).

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