Dissident seeks cooling off period as tension grows

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 12 June, 1993, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 12 June, 1993, 12:00am

A SPOKESMAN for the Shanghai Association for Human Rights yesterday called for a ''cooling off'' period as tension between the authorities and the dissident community heightened over the week-long detention of dissident Zhang Xianliang.

Yang Zhou called on fellow dissidents in Shanghai to keep a ''cool head'' in order not to play into the hands of the conservative faction of the Communist Party.

He said the association had learned of a decision by the Shanghai leadership early this year to adopt a ''reconciliatory'' approach to deal with dissidents, rather than the traditional high-handed tactics.

''The decision was to 'channel and resolve differences with' the dissidents. But this obviously contradicted what they'd done in the past two months,'' he said.

''We feared that some people were trying to stir up trouble and blame it on us. And we don't want to be exploited by these schemers.'' According to Mr Yang, while the human rights group was determined to press for the release of Zhang, it was working on some ''radical members'' of the Shanghai dissident community in order to defuse the crisis.

He maintained that the group would continue to fight for democracy through ''rational and legal'' channels instead of violence.

''We are not going to pursue actions that would further galvanise the conflict and spread hatred,'' Mr Yang said.

But he was worried that the authorities had not stopped persecuting dissidents in Shanghai, saying that in some instances even relatives of activists were affected.

Meanwhile, Zhang's family was still in the dark yesterday, although the 48-year-old activist was put under ''domicile surveillance'' by Shanghai police at an unspecified location a week ago.

A source said the detention of Zhang had alarmed the public security authorities in Beijing which were said to be liaising with their Shanghai counterparts to solve the matter.

The source also said foreign governments were monitoring the situation and might intervene if things deteriorated.