Activists jailed for 'visiting prostitutes'

PUBLISHED : Monday, 04 January, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 04 January, 1999, 12:00am

Two Shanghai activists involved with the outlawed China Democracy Party have been jailed for nine months for allegedly visiting prostitutes, dissident sources say.

The families of Han Lifa, 37, and Cai Guihua, 40, were recently told that the pair - who disappeared within a week of each other in late October - would be held until July, the Hong Kong-based Information Centre of Human Rights and Democratic Movement in China said yesterday.

Police accused them of patronising prostitutes, a charge both men denied to their families, the centre said.

Before their detention they had held a weekly human rights study group at a Shanghai teahouse on issues such as human rights treaties. They had been frequently warned by police to stop such activities.

The pair were involved with the China Democracy Party, which has been outlawed by Beijing after a failed attempt to register it during summer.

Han told family members last week that he went drinking with a friend on October 23 and woke up in police custody the next morning, the rights group said.

Cai was dining with a business partner at a Shanghai hotel on October 30 when two women entered the hotel room and took off their clothes, the group said. Police entered immediately afterwards.

The Foreign Ministry acknowledged last week that two exiled democracy campaigners who illegally entered the mainland in November were sentenced without trial to three years' forced labour, allegedly for hiring prostitutes.

The rights group said authorities were making up the prostitution charges to try to smear democracy campaigners and deflect international criticism of the crackdown.

Han and Cai both had previous run-ins with authorities. Han finished a three-year term in a labour camp in March for democracy campaigning, while Cai served two years in prison for trying to form a labour union in 1989.

Both men had been under police pressure.

Three main China Democracy Party organisers, Xu Wenli, Qin Yongmin and Wang Youcai, were jailed for 11 to 13 years for trying to overthrow the state, among the longest terms given to activists in three years.