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China charges two activists amid “Jasmine” crackdown

Posted by Author on March 29, 2011

(AFP) BEIJING — China has formally arrested two activists on charges of “inciting subversion” amid a widening crackdown on dissent linked to calls for “Jasmine” protests, rights groups said Tuesday.

Ding Mao and Ran Yunfei were both detained in the southwestern province of Sichuan in February and have been formally accused of “inciting subversion of state power” amid calls for protests emulating those sweeping the Arab world.

According to the Hong Kong-based Information Centre for Human Rights and Democracy, the family of Ding, who was once jailed for his involvement in the 1989 Tiananmen democracy protests, was formally notified of the charges Monday.
The 43-year-old had passed on information about anonymous online calls for people to join strolling rallies inspired by the Middle East and North Africa uprisings every Sunday in dozens of cities around China, it added.

The charges against Ran — a well-known blogger and social critic — were also handed to his wife on Monday, the New York-based Human Rights in China said. It was unclear what connection he had with the “Jasmine” rally calls.

Authorities have been on edge since February when the calls for protests started to emerge, and up to 100 activists have been warned, placed under house arrest or have disappeared into police custody, rights groups say.

According to the Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD), up to 25 activists have been criminally detained over the past six weeks.

They added Ran and Ding are the first of them to have been formally charged in relation to the calls for demonstrations about issues such as inflation, corruption and growing income disparities.

“The crackdown is still ongoing, and this is the harshest crackdown we have seen in the past 15 years,” Wang Songlian at CHRD told AFP.

“The general atmosphere among the activists is one of fear and frustration — nobody knows when this is going to end, and nobody knows who’s next.”

Liu Xianbin, a prominent activist, was sentenced to 10 years in prison Friday for “inciting subversion” after he posted democracy articles online. The severity of the judgment was widely seen as linked to the current crackdown.


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