Activists put 'under house arrest' during meetings
Activists and dissidents have been detained and placed under house arrest across the mainland in an attempt by authorities to prevent disturbances during the annual meetings of the national parliament, rights groups have claimed.
Human Rights in China said it knew of at least nine campaigners and petitioners in Beijing and two in Shanxi province who were forcibly detained, were ordered not to leave their homes or were under constant police surveillance. China Human Rights Lawyers Concern Group said a Shanghai lawyer was detained last Thursday for the second time this week to stop him taking part in a press conference in Hong Kong.
The apparent clampdowns come as the National People's Congress and Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference are meeting in Beijing. Attempts to stop or control the movements of individuals perceived to be a threat to social stability are a common tactic of mainland officials during sensitive events.
'The annual NPC and CPPCC sessions should be an opportunity for citizens to petition and for the leaders to solve problems,' said the organisation's executive director, Sharon Hom. 'Leaders attending the 'Two Congresses' have the responsibility to listen to the people. But the authorities are ... stripping the rights of the people that are protected under the constitution.'
This is an edited version of an article by Will Clem that appeared in the South China Morning Post on March 9