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Chinese woman arrested for tweeting intention to march with a banner praising jailed Nobel Peace Prize winner

Posted by Author on October 26, 2010

Tania Branigan in Beijing and agencies,, Tuesday 26 –

Chinese police seized a woman from her house in the middle of the night after she tweeted her intention to demonstrate with a banner congratulating jailed dissident Liu Xiaobo on winning the Nobel peace prize, a friend said today.

The news comes amid a crackdown on Liu’s friends and supporters that has raised questions about who will collect his award next month.

His wife Liu Xia, who is under house arrest, has invited more than 140 dissidents, activists and celebrities to accept the prize because she fears she will be unable to go.
Zhang Shijie, a blogger in Chongqing, tweeted that officers had taken Mou Yanxi at about 2.30am.

Another Twitter user, @newsinchina, said Mou had returned home but police had kept her mobile phone and computer, adding: “Reminder for those who want to send her DM, emails or text messages – be cautious.”

Mou’s mobile phone was still switched off this evening. An officer at the police station she was reportedly taken to denied knowledge of the case.

Mou, a freelance designer thought to be in her 20s, had tweeted: “If there is really an anti-Japanese demonstration in Chongqing, I will carry a banner saying ‘Congratulations, Uncle Xiaobo!’ ”

Several hundred people demonstrated in the south-western city this afternoon. Although some protesters have used rallies sparked by a maritime dispute with Japan to air unrelated grievances, it is unclear whether Mou was serious. Zhang wrote that she seemed to have been detained because of her tweet, adding: “If such behaviour goes on, it will eventually happen to all of us.”

He later wrote that police today warned him not to attend the rally and to be careful what he said on Twitter.

Dissidents and activists have celebrated Liu’s award despite the clampdown. In an open letter posted online today, Liu Xia said her husband would want his friends “to attend this historic ceremony and to share the glory”.

She invited people including Ding Zilin, whose teenage son was killed in the crackdown on the Tiananmen Square student protests in 1989, film director Chen Kaige and racing driver and blogger Han Han. She said she believed cultural figures could help promote social change.

Liu Xia’s friend Yang Jianli, a democracy activist exiled in the US, told Associated Press the letter was authentic and that he was helping her.

We can’t forget that our real, real hero, Liu Xiaobo, is still languishing in prison, and his wife is under house arrest,” he said.

Yu Jie, a dissident writer and friend of Liu who is under house arrest, told the Guardian: “Under these circumstances, I don’t think I will be able to go anywhere. I think for most of the people mentioned in the list, going to Norway is impossible.”

Fifteen Nobel peace laureates, including Desmond Tutu, Jimmy Carter and the Dalai Lama today asked world leaders to press China to release the 54-year-old and end Liu Xia’s house arrest. The letter asks them to use next month’s G20 summit in Seoul to raise the issue with China’s president, Hu Jintao.

In response, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu told reporters Liu was “convicted by Chinese judicial authorities for breaking China’s laws”.

He added: “We oppose any attempt to make an issue of this, and we oppose anyone infringing on China’s judicial sovereignty in any way.”

Liu is serving 11 years for incitement to subvert state power after co-authoring Charter 08, a call for democratic reforms.

China has accused the west of ideological warfare. One commentary on the People’s Daily website today was headlined: “It is an unquestionable fact that Chinese people have freedom of expression and press.”

The article, which did not directly refer to Liu, cited China’s billions of publications, huge internet population and widespread TV broadcasting but did not mention its censorship of all media. The author, Ren Wen, said people overlooked freedom of expression “because they want to contaminate China’s international image, weaken or even abolish the leadership of the Communist party of China and change the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics.”

The Guardian

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