Charter 08 Co-Organizer Zhang Zuhua Abducted by Police ahead of Nobel Ceremony
(Chinese Human Rights Defenders- December 9, 2010) Zhang Zuhua (张祖桦), Beijing-based human rights and pro-democracy activist and one of the co-drafters and organizers of Charter 08, was abducted off the street this afternoon by Chinese police officers. His kidnapping comes amid a wave of disappearances and threats as the government prepares for tomorrow’s Nobel Peace Prize ceremony by redoubling the repressive measures it has already put in place to silence China’s activist community.
Mr. Zhang, a close colleague and friend of Liu Xiaobo, was returning to his apartment after lunch, followed by police, when a minibus pulled up alongside him. A group of individuals, believed to include both public security and national security (guobao) police, emerged from the vehicle and demanded that he get in. He refused, but was eventually forced into the minibus and taken away. His current whereabouts are unknown.
Prior to the kidnapping, police had steadily increased their efforts to harass Mr. Zhang. Following the Nobel Committee’s announcement on October 8 that Liu Xiaobo would be awarded this year’s Peace Prize, the authorities increased the number of plainclothes and uniformed police stationed outside of Zhang’s home and placed restrictions on his movements. His internet connection was severed on December 7, and on December 8, national security officers ordered him to “travel” with them outside of Beijing for a few days, but he refused.
CHRD has been receiving reports throughout the day of other activists and dissidents being similarly forced to “travel” by police. For example, in Beijing, officers took scholar Cui Weiping (崔卫平) and journalist Gao Yu (高瑜) away to undisclosed locations, while in Xi’an City, activist Yang Hai (杨海) and human rights lawyer Zhang Jiankang (张鉴康) were also forced to leave their homes. Others have reported interruptions in internet or cell phone service believed to be related to the ceremony. For an updated list of cases documented by CHRD, please see our website at http://chrdnet.org/2010/10/14/nobel/.
CHRD demands that the police immediately release Zhang Zuhua and all other Chinese citizens who have been kidnapped, forced to live under soft detention, or face restrictions on their movements as a result of the Nobel Peace Prize award ceremony. These actions have no basis in Chinese law and flagrantly violate international human rights standards. We demand that the officers involved in the illegal abduction of Mr. Zhang be held legally accountable for their actions.
CHRD reiterates its call for the immediate and unconditional release of 2010 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Liu Xiaobo.
Zhang Zuhua has tirelessly promoted human rights and democratic reform in China for the past twenty years, and as a result has often lived under police surveillance for long stretches of time. After the pro-democracy protests in 1989, Zhang was stripped of his positions within the government and subjected to “self-criticism and confession” for participating in the protests and organizing fellow officials and staff to support the students. Since then, Mr. Zhang has personally aided those persecuted due to their activism during the 1989 pro-democracy movement, organized numerous civil society forums on topics of political reform and democratic transitions, and written books on constitutional democracy, advocating concrete reforms for a peaceful transition to a constitutional democracy in China. As one of the primary drafters of Charter 08, Mr. Zhang has been interrogated on many occasions over the past two years. A large number of his personal belongings, including his and his parents-in-laws’ life savings, were confiscated by officials on December 8, 2008, when he was taken in by police for questioning at the same time Liu Xiaobo was detained.
Renee Xia, International Director (English and Mandarin), +852 8191 6937 or +1 301 547 9286
Wang Songlian, Research Coordinator (English and Mandarin), +852 8191 1660
For more information, please see:
“China Must End Political Repression, Release Nobel Laureate Liu Xiaobo,” December 9, 2010, http://chrdnet.org/2010/12/08/awardceremony/
“Chinese Reactions to Liu Xiaobo’s Nobel Peace Prize- from Both Sides,” updated December 9, 2010, http://chrdnet.org/2010/10/14/nobel/