Chinese activists disappearing after call for Jasmine Revolution, reports say


Chinese police surround a group of foreign journalists as security is ramped up, with at least 300 hundred uniformed police guarding the entrance to the Jasmine rally site, designated in an online appeal, in the Wangfujing shopping street in central Beijing on Feb. 27, 2011. Citizens have been urged in an online appeal to gather each Sunday for "strolling" protests at designated sites in 13 cities across the country.


Goh Chai Hin

Chinese human rights activists have been disappearing ever since a mysterious call went out on the Internet for a "Jasmine Revolution" similar to the uprisings against authoritarian regimes in the Middle East — a call that was made again this week.

Three human rights lawyers have reportedly vanished and not been heard from in the past two weeks, and more than 100 other people have had their movements restricted, while six activists face subversion charges, possibly for posting information online about the Jasmine rallies," according to a Hong Kong-based rights group.

Meanwhile, the Chinese government is threatening foreign correspondents that their visas will be revoked if they continue to try to report on demonstrations held there, according to reports.

The move is the latest in a series of harsh measures authorities have taken to ensure that popular movements aimed at overthrowing autocratic regimes in the Middle East do not spread to China, writes the Christian Science Monitor.

The mysterious group running the Jasmine Revolution campaign called this week for fresh protests Sunday. Calls often come via an anonymous statement posted on the U.S.-based Chinese language news site Boxun, which is blocked in China.

Jiang Tianyong, an activist lawyer in Beijing, vanished Feb. 19, a day before the protests called for in Internet postings in the Chinese capital, according to China Human Rights Defenders. Jiang has reportedly not been heard from since, the CSM reported. Since then, two other human rights lawyers, Tang Jitian and Teng Biao, have disappeared into China's labyrinthine security system.

Jiang's wife, Jin Bianling, said that she had tried for years to persuade her husband to switch to a safer profession and now she fears the worst, according to USA Today.

"He might be sentenced on some charge," said Jin of her 39-year-old husband. "But I am most worried they will torture him. He has high-blood pressure, but the police refuse to deliver his medicine. I worry about his personal safety."

Meanwhile, dozens of foreign journalists who tried to cover demonstrations Sunday in central Beijing and downtown Shanghai have been summoned this week to interviews with the police, the Foreign Correspondents Club of China said Thursday in a warning to members.

The interviews have followed “a common theme” the FCCC said, according to the CSM. Reporters have been told that they have “broken Chinese regulations, officials know about it, and the journalist will face consequences if he or she does it again. Those consequences include being arrested or detained until the visa or work permit is canceled.”

On Monday, the outgoing U.S. ambassador to China, Jon Huntsman Jr., said that American and other foreign journalists were "illegally detained or harassed" while covering protests in Beijing over the weekend.

And the European Union delegation to China issued a statement saying it was "troubled by accounts of foreign journalists being detained without explanation and being physically intimidated or assaulted."