China: Internet writer detained

English PEN is seriously concerned about the detention and well-being of internet writer Huang Qi who has been detained since 10 June 2008.

According to our information, Huang Qi was last seen on 10 June 2008 in Chengdu. He was reportedly being forced into a car with two of his friends by unidentified men on the evening of June 10 2008. His detention comes amid an escalated effort by the Chinese government to establish tighter controls over reporting from earthquake-affected areas.

Two associates working with Huang Qi at Tianwang, Internet writer Huang Xiaomin and webmaster Zhang Qi, had been detained on May 16 after declaring their intentions to join rescue activities in Sichuan. Huang Xiaomin was released after 15 days, and there are reports that he was extensively questioned by police about his relation to Huang Qi and their activities at Tianwang. Zhang Qi is still being held incommunicado.’

According to CPJ, “The arrest and the disappearance of these reporters suggest that authorities in the earthquake zone are beginning to punish those trying to publish information about the terrible disaster in May. The government in Beijing must protect journalists in Sichuan who are attacked for their reporting rather than spare local Communist Party officials from embarrassment.”

Huang, director and co-founder of the Tianwang Human Rights Center in Chengdu, had been imprisoned on subversion charges from 2003 to 2005 for setting up a web site that investigated corruption, advocated democracy, and called for the release of those imprisoned in the wake of the Tiananmen protests. English PEN fears that Huang has been detained by plainclothes police and may be held incommunicado in connection with his criticism of the government’s handling of the May 12th Sichuan earthquake.

Background: (from IFEX bulletin)

“Huang Qi spent five years in jail after being arrested on 3 June 2000, the eve of the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre. He was charged with subversion for posting articles about the massacre by exiled dissidents on his website, which he originally created as a bulletin board for messages about missing persons, says RSF.

Huang was the first website publisher to be charged with inciting subversion in China. According to CPJ, Chinese authorities repeatedly delayed his trial in 2001 while the International Olympic Committee was considering Beijing’s bid for the 2008 Olympics.”

Please send appeals:

·  Expressing serious concern for the safety of detained internet writer Huang Qi following his critical reporting the government dealing with the consequences of the earthquake on the earthquake in Sichuan province on 12 May;
·  Seeking urgent information about Huang Qi’s well-being;
· Expressing serious concern that he appears to have been detained in violation of Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which China is a signatory and that guarantees the right to freedom of expression and if so calling for his immediate and unconditional release.

Government addresses:

His Excellency Hu Jintao
President of the People’s Republic of China
State Council
Beijing 100032
P.R. China.

Mr. Meng Jianzhu
Minister of the Public Security
East Chang’an Avenue 14
100741 Beijing
P.R. China

Please note that fax numbers are no longer available for the Chinese authorities, so you may wish to ask the diplomatic representative for China in your country to forward your appeals:

Her Excellency Mrs. Fu Ying
Embassy of the People’s Republic of China
49 – 51 Portland Place
London W1B 1JL

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