Hunan human rights activist Zhu Chengzhi
Police have arrested and charged Zhu Chengzhi, a friend and supporter of deceased labor unionist Li Wangyang, with inciting subversion of state power, according to a national human rights group.
The Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD) said today that it had received a copy of the indictment against Zhu Chengzhi, issued by the Shaoyang City Public Security Bureau on July 25.
Zhu Chengzhi, from Hunan province, is being held at a detention center in Shaoyang, according to CHRD.
Zhu used his Twitter account to spread news of the death of Li, who was found hanging from the bars of a hospital room window on June 6.
The circumstances of his death remain unclear. Authorities pronounced the cause of death as suicide after a two-week investigation by the Hunan Provincial Security Bureau.
Zhu and others have been outspoken in saying that suicide was an unlikely explanation for the unionist’s death.
Doriane Lau of the Hong Kong-based Chinese Human Rights Lawyer Concern Group said today that it was common for authorities to use the charge of subversion to suppress political dissidents.
“Apparently the government wants revenge against Zhu and to send a warning to other dissidents,” she said.
“Authorities may suppose that [Zhu] was the one who brought the incident to the attention of the international community. That’s why he was given such a heavy charge.”
The CHRD said Zhu was given a 10-day administrative detention on June 9 for “disrupting public order” after questioning the cause of Li’s death.
Zhu’s wife was subsequently told by security officers that he would continue to be under surveillance and would be held for further investigation, CHRD said.
He remained in custody and his whereabouts were unknown until the indictment was made public.
Other supporters of Li have come under scrutiny by security officials.
Activist Xiao Yong was sentenced to 18 months of re-education in a labor camp last month, and his lawyer was reportedly pressured by local authorities to give up his defense of Xiao.
Meanwhile, some of Li’s family members and other activists who questioned the circumstances of his death have been summoned by police or put under house arrest.
Lau urged the Shaoyang government to release these persons who have been illegally detained.
“They have done nothing wrong. They merely demanded that authorities be fair and just handling the investigation of Li’s death.”
Or Yan-yan of Hong Kong diocese’s Justice and Peace Commission criticized the Chinese government for ignoring the rule of law and prosecuting its people on groundless charges.
“It makes me feel suffocated when considering that internal power struggles result in the sacrifice of people’s benefits,” she said.
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