Legal activist missing since checking on protest permit, group says

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 14 August, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 14 August, 2008, 12:00am
 

A Fujian legal activist who applied to stage a protest in one of three government-approved Olympic protest zones is missing after going to police to check on his application, a human rights watchdog said yesterday.

The claim followed pleas from international journalists to the director of the Beijing Games' Security Department, Liu Shaowu , to release details on the applications received by the authorities in the five days since the areas opened.

'I do not have the number of applicants and other details. I will get them for you,' he said after being repeatedly asked during a joint International Olympic Committee and Beijing Organising Committee for the Olympic Games press conference.

US-based Human Rights Watch said on its website that Ji Sizun, a grass-roots legal activist, applied to the Deshengmenwai police station in Beijing's Xicheng district last Thursday to stage a rally during the Games.

The 58-year-old, who calls for more public participation in politics and denounces rampant official corruption and abuses of power, was detained while checking on his application on Monday, the group said.

A duty police officer denied having detained Mr Ji, telling reporters the station had 'not received Ji's case because the station does not take protest applications'.

Mr Ji called his family to say he 'had problems' and has since been unreachable on his mobile phone, said Human Rights Watch.

The zones have remained empty and are being used for leisure. Public protests are rare on the mainland as they can bring unwanted scrutiny.

Both Bocog and the IOC have come under pressure from foreign journalists who have gathered in Beijing to cover the Games and are reporting on issues ranging from human rights to pollution.

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