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China 13 December 2002

Police arrest 33rd cyber-dissident

Reporters Without Borders expressed renewed concern today after the arrest of a 33rd cyber-dissident as part of a crackdown on democracy activists since the ruling Chinese Communist Party’s congress last month. It called on China’s new president, Hu Jintao, to order his release at once.

Police have been holding dissident teacher Ouyang Yi, who runs a website and is a member of the banned Democratic Party, in secret since his arrest on 4 December in Chengdu, capital of the southwestern province of Sichuan, according to the dissident organisation China Labor Watch. There are now 33 cyber-dissidents in jail in China.

China Labor Watch said Ouyang’s wife had had no news of him since his arrest, which she learned of when local police came to search the family home in Suining, nearly 200 kms from Chengdu, on orders from the provincial capital’s police.

Ouyang, aged 32, is well-known to the authorities as one of the 192 signatories of an open letter to the recent 16th Communist Party congress calling on it to reverse its condemnation of the 1989 Tienanmen Square demonstrations in Beijing.

In his website articles, he wrote about the 1989 dissidence (known as the second Beijing spring), the failure of the government’s economic policies and the need for reforms in the state structure. He was arrested in 1996, 1998, 1999 and earlier this year for his dissident activities, but until now has not been held longer than 48 hours.

Other pro-democracy activists and signatories of the letter to the 16th party congress, including Zhao Changqing, Fang Jue and He Depu, have also been arrested in recent weeks.

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