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Image: Veteran Activist Xu Wenli Smiles In Beijing
Veteran activist Xu Wenli in a file photo.
Dissidents protest China arrests
Police release 2, but keep 3 prominent activists in custody for opposition calls
BEIJING, Dec. 2 —  Calling China deceitful for signing human rights treaties while stifling dissent, 190 dissidents Wednesday demanded the government release campaigners trying to set up an opposition party. Police freed two campaigners early Wednesday after their second night in detention, but kept in custody three of China’s most prominent dissidents Xu Wenli, Qin Yongmin and Wang Youcai all outspoken organizers of the would-be China Democracy Party.

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       XU AND QIN were taken away by police Monday night in coordinated raids in two cities that delivered the sternest blow to the 5-month campaign to establish the party and challenge the ruling Communist Party’s ban on opposition politics.
       Qin was arrested for plotting to overthrow the government, a crime that could keep him in jail for life. Xu was taken away on warrants that identified him as a criminal suspect, while Wang, detained a month ago, was also formally arrested Monday although his family has not been told the charge.
       Their campaign came following China’s signing of key U.N. human rights treaties, partly done to improve relations with the United States and other Western countries.
       “By these acts, China’s government and relevant authorities have brazenly violated international treaties and universal human rights principles,” said an open letter signed by 190 dissidents in 22 provinces and cities and faxed to foreign news agencies.
       “On the one hand, they are deceiving and cheating international public opinion while on the other hand they are suppressing and persecuting domestic political dissidents,” said the letter.
       The letter demanded the release of Xu, Qin, Wang and any others taken into custody.
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       In Washington, State Department spokesman James P. Rubin called Xu’s detention “a serious step in the wrong direction” and called for his release. He said Monday that Xu had been “for peacefully exercising fundamental freedoms guaranteed by international human rights instruments.”
Two other democracy party supporters taken into custody in central Wuhan city along with Qin — Chen Zhonghe and Xiao Shichang — were released early Wednesday, said He Xintong, Xu Wenli’s wife. She added that police questioned the pair about the party as well as Qin’s human rights monitoring organizations.
       Qin and Xu are towering figures in China’s persecuted dissident community. Their activism dates to the seminal Democracy Wall movement of the 1970s. Wang heralds from 1989’s influential Tiananmen Square democracy movement, in which he was a student leader. All have spent time in prison, Xu for 12 years, much of it in solitary confinement.
       Xu’s wife said she does not know where he is being held and, in her 20-year experience with the authorities, believes they are unlikely to tell her.
       Released in 1993, Xu picked up his campaigning for political change soon after his parole ended last year. He has tried to use China’s nascent legal system and the international treaties it signed to push for reform.
       “My husband is innocent and there’s nothing he can be criticized for,” said his wife, He Xintong. “They’re going to have to expend a lot of effort to make him a criminal.”
       Qin’s family was told Wednesday to send clean clothes and quilts to him, a sign authorities were preparing for a long detention, the Hong Kong-based Information Center of Human Rights and Democratic Movement in China reported.
       © 1998 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Internet Sites Human rights in China: Rhetoric and reality
Internet Sites Human Rights Watch China Report
Internet Sites Embassy of China, Washington, D.C.
Internet Sites China: State Department 1997 human rights report
Internet Sites Lawyers Committee for Human Rights: New approach to China
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