Authorities in the southern province of Guangdong are holding a prominent dissident in criminal detention on suspicion of “picking quarrels and stirring up trouble,” a charge often used to target critics of the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
Wang Aizhong was detained at his home in Guangdong’s provincial capital, Guangzhou. His apartment was searched by police, who confiscated reading materials and computer devices, Wang’s wife Wang Henan told RFA.
She said police had used another pretext to persuade him to go downstairs to the parking area of his apartment building.
“Wang Aizhong told me that someone had called him to say that his car had been scraped, and told him to come down and deal with it,” Wang Henan said. “He then wondered in passing whether it was a deliberate ploy [by police].”
“He said something about sending my mother down to take a look, but then he went downstairs holding our daughter,” she said. “Then he was taken away by a bunch of people.”
Wang Henan said around a dozen officers had come to the family home later, and taken 29 books, two computers and a mobile phone away with them.
“They searched the place for more than an hour,” she said. “They also took me down to the Wushan police station to make a statement.”
Wang, 45, was a key activist during protests in Guangzhou in January 2013 that were sparked by the rewriting of a New Year’s Day Southern Media Group editorial calling for constitutional government.
Activists, journalists and academics faced off with the authorities for several days after the Southern Weekend newspaper was forced to change a New Year editorial calling for political reform into a tribute praising the CCP.
The protest was one of the first overt calls by members of the public for political freedom since large-scale pro-democracy demonstrations were crushed in a military crackdown in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square in 1989.
Wang Henan said her husband was detained for his outspokenness.
“The police told me Wang Aizhong was being detained mainly because of things he had said, and and for giving interviews to foreign media organizations,” she said.
After she received the official notification of Wang’s criminal detention, Wang Henan sent it out on social media to publicize the news more widely, she told RFA.
“About two hours later, I got another call from the police station,” she said. “They wanted me to go over there … and they asked me why I did that, and told me I should think about the possible consequences.”
A fellow social media user who gave only a surname Liu said Wang had done nothing but tell the truth.
“In this system, telling the truth isn’t allowed,” Liu said. “If you do, they turn you into a criminal.”
“Jail awaits you, even if you do everything according to the laws and regulations,” he said.
Reported by Qiao Long for RFA’s Mandarin Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.
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