Two more held after street campaign to force officials to reveal wealth

A lawyer and an activist are taken away and had their homes raided by police over disclosure demands, bringing total arrests to eight

PUBLISHED : Friday, 19 April, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 19 April, 2013, 4:30am

Beijing police detained a lawyer and an activist on Wednesday, bringing the number of people held over a street campaign urging senior Communist party officials to disclose their family assets to at least eight.

Rights lawyer Ding Jiaxi was taken away around 8pm on Wednesday for "illegal gathering", fellow lawyer Li Fangping said. Police also raided Ding's home and confiscated his computers and mobile phones, Li said.

The same night, police also took away activist Zhao Changqing and confiscated his computers, cameras and mobile phones, his wife, Liu Xiaodong, said yesterday. Police sent Liu a notice saying her husband had been criminally detained for "illegal gathering" and was being held at Beijing's No3 Detention Centre, she said.

Zhao was jailed for his role as a student leader in the 1989 Tiananmen pro-democracy movement, and has been jailed several times for political activities.

Li and Liu said Ding and Zhao were detained because of their participation in a campaign demanding senior officials disclose their assets. Li said they were also involved in civil rights campaigns of the New Citizen social movement - an initiative started by legal scholar Xu Zhiyong .

Beijing police did not respond to an inquiry yesterday.

Campaigners including Ding and Zhao had been calling since December for citizens to join an online signature campaign to demand that the 205 members of the Communist Party's Central Committee - the most politically powerful people on the mainland - disclose their family wealth. The open letter, which says that financial disclosure is a necessary step in the fight against corruption, had been signed by 7,673 people by early this month.

Since Xi Jinping was made party leader in November, he has repeatedly vowed to deal with corruption harshly and firmly rein in official power.

Four activists who held banners in Xidan Culture Square in Beijing on March 31 calling for greater disclosure of assets were detained that day. Yuan Dong , Zhang Baocheng , Hou Xin and Ma Xinli were accused of "illegal gathering" and held at a police detention centre. Hou has been released on bail but the others remained in custody, Li said.

Sun Hanhui , a key co-ordinator of the online signature campaign, and activist Wang Yonghong were detained earlier this week, Ding said on Twitter before he was taken away. Li said two other campaigners, Li Wei and Qi Yueying , are missing.

A letter posted online yesterday said: "The call for the disclosure … has been going on for more than three decades. Not only have [officials] failed to implement this, but the citizens calling for this are being punished. What have they done wrong?"