Reporters Without Borders condemned a ban on leaving the country imposed today on blogger and free expression activist Zeng Jinyan, preventing her once again from travelling to Europe. Police arrested her as she prepared to board the plane and also confiscated her passport.
According to her husband, Hu Jia, the Council of State, the Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of Security had all said that Zeng Jinyan posed a threat to “national security”. He told Reuters news agency that “the fact the authorities are playing the national security card shows that in reality the government knows very well that our evidence is enough to prove that the government is violating fundamental rights”.
Another human rights activist, Yao Lifa, was yesterday prevented from leaving for Switzerland to attend the same training course. He said that the communist party wanted to avoid all “instability” ahead of the 17th Party Congress.
Free speech activist couple barred from leaving country, placed under house arrest
Reporters Without Borders today condemned a government decision to prevent free speech activist couple Hu Jia and Zeng Jinyan from leaving the country on 18 May and place them under house arrest, accusing them of "threatening national security." They had visas to visit France.
"Hu and his wife Zeng are well known for their human rights activism," the press freedom organisation said. "Zeng, a constant blogger, was recently included by Time magazine in its list of the world’s 100 most influential people. What is the legal basis for the claim that they threaten national security?"
Reporters Without Borders added: "It is important that the international community - including the European Union, which just gave them visas - should take action on their behalf and defend their innocence. Their freedom of movement must be restored quickly."
Police forcibly prevented Hu and Zeng from leaving their home on 18 May to go to Beijing airport and take a flight to Hong Kong, the first leg of a planned trip of several weeks to Europe. During four hours of questioning, police told Hu that he and his wife were suspected of harming national security.
Eight policemen are now keeping permanent watch on them at their home. Some of them manhandled Hu on 20 May when he tried to go shopping. The authorities nonetheless allowed the couple to attend the funeral of Zeng’s grandfather the next day in Fujian province.
Hu and Zeng were previously placed under house arrest from August 2006 to March of this year. They made a documentary about this experience called "Prisoners of Freedom City."
The couple is above all known for supporting AIDS victims. Zeng’s blog describes the day-to-day experiences of Chinese dissidents, including the way they are watched and harassed.
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