Rights lawyer held for four hours over T-shirt
Guangzhou police took a human rights lawyer into custody yesterday afternoon, while he was hiking with friends, because the slogans on his T-shirt were considered politically sensitive.
Liu Shihui, a lawyer with the Jingguo Law Firm in Guangzhou who has represented human rights activist Guo Feixiong, said a man suddenly grabbed him by the neck from behind while he was hiking on Baiyun Mountain.
Liu said he was questioned at the Guangzhou Public Security Bureau's office on the mountain for about four hours before being released last night.
He said it was his T-shirt that had caused the problem.
On the front of his white shirt was the slogan 'One-party dictatorship is a disaster', which Liu said was a quote from a Xinhua editorial in the 1940s. On the back was another quote, by former president Liu Shaoqi : 'The CP [Communist Party] opposes the Kuomintang's one-party dictatorship, but the CP will not establish a one-party dictatorship.'
He said the police had repeatedly asked him why he was dressed in such a shirt and what the slogans meant, and he told them that all the slogans had been created by the party.
'Then they said that I was disturbing the public order with such a T-shirt and the slogans were misleading to the public,' Liu said.
The police persuaded Liu to remove the shirt, he said, and to agree not to wear such garments.
Then they cut the shirt into pieces with scissors in front of him, refusing Liu's request to keep it. They bought Liu a white T-shirt, with no slogans, from a supermarket before releasing him.
It was at least the second time in less than six months that T-shirts with political slogans have landed Liu in trouble. In mid-May, about three weeks before the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown, he was questioned by a security guard at a Guangzhou subway station and ordered to take off a shirt with the same slogans.
Campaigns against T-shirts with political slogans have intensified across the mainland this year.
Mo Zhixu, a Beijing-based columnist and activist, said some of his friends had dressed in such T-shirts over the past three years, and never experienced the kind of problem faced by Liu. However, in the past few months, some friends, including a Charter 08 signatory travelling in Jiangsu province, had encountered similar treatment.
Mo said there must have been instructions given by top authorities to target people dressed in clothes with controversial slogans.
'But I don't understand why they worry about the T-shirts so much. Can clothes with slogans cause social unrest?' he asked.
Another outspoken Guangzhou blogger, Bei Feng, who witnessed a similar case two months ago on Baiyun Mountain, said the authorities were being too sensitive.
'If more people hiking on Baiyun Mountain dress in such T-shirts more often, the police and authorities will get used to it and find that it's no threat to them,' he said.