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Another advocate for human rights indicted for subversion

 HONG KONG (UCAN): Police have arrested and charged Zhu Chengzhi, a friend and supporter of deceased labour unionist, Li Wangyang, with inciting subversion of state power, according to a report from the Chinese Human Rights Defenders.

The Hong Kong-based human rights agency announced on August 9 that it has received a copy of the indictment against Zhu Chengzhi, issued by the Shaoyang City Public Security Bureau, on July 25.

The agency said that Zhu Chengzhi, who is from Hunan province, is being held at a detention centre in Shaoyang.

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 surrouonding the incident remain unclear, although 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, claiming that suicide is an unlikely explanation for the unionist’s death.

Doriane Lau, of the Hong Kong-based Chinese Human Rights Lawyers Concern Group, said on August 9 that it is common for authorities in China 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,” she added.

Chinese Human Rights Defenders say that Zhu was given a 10-day administrative detention on June 9 for disrupting public order after he initially questioned 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.

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.

This is not an isolated case, as Xiao Yong, a human rights advocate from Guangdong, was sentenced to 18 months of re-education in a labour camp on July 20 and his lawyer was reportedly pressured by local authorities to give up his defence.

Meanwhile, some of Li’s family and other human rights advocates, who have questioned the circumstances of his death, have also been summoned by police or put under house arrest.

Lau urged the Shaoyang government to release these people, who she says have been illegally detained.

“They have done nothing wrong. They merely demanded that authorities be fair and just in handling the investigation of Li’s death,” she said.

Or Yan-yan, from the Hong Kong Justice and Peace Commission, was critical of the Chinese government for ignoring the rule of law and prosecuting its people on groundless charges.

“It makes me feel suffocated when I consider how internal power struggles result in the sacrifice of people’s benefits,” she said.

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