Reporters Without Borders today urged Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao to immediately release Du Daobin, the author of many essays on human rights and democracy, who was arrested on 29 October in Yingcheng, in the central province of Hubei.
Du is one of the organisers of a campaign to draw attention to the imprisonment of the young Internet user Liu Di by urging people to shut themselves in the dark during the day to "simulate detention."
"We regret that the Chinese authorities have turned a deaf hear to the growing number of voices speaking out in China and abroad against their policy of cracking down on cyber-dissidents," Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Robert Ménard said.
"We pay homage to Du Daobin’s courage and the impact of his symbolic protest in support of Liu Di. The simulated detention campaign was a model of peaceful protest and the arrest of its instigator is quite simply disgraceful," Ménard added.
The Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post had quoted Du as saying the aim of the simulated detention was to allow people "to feel how Liu Di felt in prison, that’s to say, in a place without light, without distractions, and without friends or television."
Du was arrested as he was returning home from work. After detaining him, police led by the district police chief searched his home and confiscated computer material, handwritten letters, an address book and foreign books. The police told his wife, Xia Chun-rong, that Du had "gone too far"and that "his fate depends on the result of the investigation and on his attitude." The police also told her not to have any contact with foreign journalists.
A 39-year-old civil servant, Du had posted articles on the Internet advocating democracy and condemning the repression of members of the Falung Gong movement. He has reportedly been accused of subversion by the Chinese authorities. His wife and his 12-year-old son have not been allowed to visit him.
Liu is a sociology student who has been detained without being tried since 7 November 2002 for messages she posted in Internet forums. A total of 39 people are currently imprisoned in China because of their Internet activities.