Activist's relatives targeted

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 22 July, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 22 July, 2012, 12:00am

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Relatives of a blind activist who fled a 'black jail' where she was held after mainland authorities refused to let her enter Hong Kong for the July 1 rally have been threatened with prosecution if they do not reveal her whereabouts, a Hong Kong-based rights organisation said.

Li Guizhi, 57, was held in an illegal detention centre in Hebei province after she was turned back from the border in Shenzhen.

Li (pictured) was planning to hold a press conference in Hong Kong to demand answers about the suspicious death of her son, a policeman, in 2006. She has been missing since fleeing on Tuesday.

Her nephew, Wang Jianfu, was arrested on Thursday after helping Li flee detention and his parents - Li's younger brother and his wife - are under surveillance.

Li had previously been detained and tortured in illegal detention centres.

Liu Weiping, the chairman of the People's Rights Union of China, which organised Li's trip to Hong Kong for the annual July 1 pro-democracy event, said security personnel were now too powerful to be controlled by Beijing.

'They said if Wang did not tell them where Li was, he and his parents would be prosecuted for helping a 'heavyweight prisoner' to escape,' Liu said.

After being denied permission to cross the border in late June, Li fled to Panyu district in Guangzhou, where she was found and detained by security personnel on July 1. She was taken to Hebei, her home province, and sent to a black jail.

Security was not tight during Li's detention. Wang's wife had been visiting Li and spent time with her in the black jail. Wang helped Li to flee early on Tuesday morning as the guards slept.

Li, who suffers from asthma, had called Liu to say she felt physically unwell after receiving medical treatment inside the facility. Liu urged her to refuse further treatment.

Li's daughter, Ren Yuanyuan, was also threatened by security personnel, who wanted her to sign a document giving up her right to press for answers over the death of her brother. She refused.

Li has been petitioning since the official investigation into the death of her son Ren Haifeng, a public security officer who reportedly quit the force after learning that his colleagues were involved in drug trafficking.

The official verdict was that Ren died in a car accident, although no evidence was provided. Liu believes Ren was killed because officers feared he would disclose their secret.

Liu said he was now worried about Li's personal safety. 'Security personnel could co-operate with triad members to make Li 'disappear' - either kill her or create an accident. This is happening all the time,' he said.