Censors close website of pro-Taishi professor

PUBLISHED : Friday, 07 October, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 07 October, 2005, 12:00am

Censors have closed a website set up by a Sun Yat-sen University professor who championed the rights of villagers 10 days after security guards smashed a taxi taking her and two lawyers home from a visit to the village.

Taishi villagers have waged a three-month struggle to unseat their village chief but authorities in Panyu, Guangdong, have declared an end to the battle.

The website was shut down on Wednesday after a bulletin board for readers to post comments was suppressed, sources said. It was not accessible yesterday.

Professor Ai Xiaoming's last posting was an account of the attack during which lawyer Guo Yan was pursued by men on motorcycles and beaten after leaving the taxi to seek help.

A source said Professor Ai, who teaches gender studies, was warned to forget the issue. The university has complained to police about the treatment of its staff and employed security guards to protect Professor Ai. Students expressed anger at the use of 'triad' tactics.

Professor Ai wrote an open letter to Premier Wen Jiabao on September 15, urging him to look into the protest, and saying she was convinced the villagers were seeking personal economic rights.

She was also the prime mover in drawing the central government's attention to the death in a Guangzhou repatriation centre of Wuhan graduate Sun Zhigang after he was detained for failing to carry his temporary residence permit.

The custody and repatriation system, which kept migrants out of large cities for decades, was repealed following intense debate over Sun's death.

The Beijing-based Caijing magazine has run the most detailed account of the Taishi protest, including the use of force by police.