Authorities in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong have applied to arrest a human rights lawyer after holding him under residential surveillance for six months, his friend told RFA.
Rights lawyer Zhou Xiaoyun, who formerly worked as a senior editor at the cutting-edge Southern Metropolis Daily newspaper in Guangzhou, was initially detained by police in the northeastern province of Liaoning around six months ago on suspicion of “picking quarrels and stirring up trouble,” a charge frequently used to target peaceful critics of the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
He was held incommunicado under RSDL, residential surveillance at a designated location, but now that the six-month limit has been reached, police have applied to the state prosecutor’s office for approval of his arrest, a friend of Zhou’s who gave only the surname Lu said.
Police in Guangdong’s Panshan county submitted the arrest application to the local procuratorate on Sept. 26, Lu said.
He said Zhou was being victimized by the Liaoning police.
“They sent the case to the Panshan county procuratorate on the 26th, to apply for his arrest,” Lu said. “It’s not clear which leader is in charge, but it is being handled, at least on the face of things, by the Panshan county police, and in actuality by the Panjin municipal police department.”
Zhou had met with his lawyer twice during the past week, as well as receiving a visit from his sister, he said.
A veteran lawyer who gave only the surname Zhang said Zhou will remain in detention after his time in “residential surveillance at a designated location (RSDL)” expires if the application is approved.
“This is what used to be called criminal detention, and it requires the approval of the procuratorate for a formal arrest,” Zhang said. “This is a critical juncture, because if the procuratorate approves the arrest, it means at the very least that they believe Zhou committed a crime which should be investigated and which deserves a prison sentence.”
“[That means they think] he should remain in detention,” he said.
Repeated calls to the Panjin municipal police department and to the Panshan country procuratorate rang unanswered during office hours on Tuesday.
Re-educating the media
The CCP is in the process of “re-educating” its already tightly controlled state media, requiring hundreds of thousands of journalists to sit an exam on the political thought of general secretary Xi Jinping to qualify for a new generation of official press cards.
The process started with a 2014 requirement for journalists to study Marxism, and followed up by Xi in 2016, when he warned during visits to state media organizations that state media are part of the CCP family.
All media operating in China must safeguard the authority of the Communist Party central committee, and adhere to “the correct direction” in forming public opinion, Xi said at the time.
Meanwhile, Xu Yan, wife of jailed human rights attorney Yu Wensheng said he has yet to receive adequate medical and dental treatment in Nanjing Prison, where he is serving a four-year sentence after being convicted of “incitement to subvert state power” by a court in the eastern province of Jiangsu.
Family members have long suspected that Yu has been tortured and ill-treated while in custody, as he only has limited use of his right hand, and is unable to write, brush his teeth, or harvest crops as part of prison labor.
He was named as a finalist for the Martin Ennals Award honoring human rights defenders earlier this year.
The Martin Ennals Foundation called him “one of the best-known and most intrepid human rights activists” in China, acknowledging that Yu has been subjected to arbitrary detention, a secret trial, and the removal of his license to practice law.
Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.