ACTIVISM
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Tiananmen Square crackdown

Rights lawyer Tang Jingling detained ahead of Tiananmen anniversary

Tang Jingling, who has fought against graft and land seizures, taken from Guangzhou home ahead of June 4 anniversary, his wife says

PUBLISHED : Friday, 16 May, 2014, 4:16pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 17 May, 2014, 3:05am

Mainland authorities detained a human rights lawyer yesterday in an ongoing clampdown on journalists, scholars and lawyers ahead of the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square protests.

Police took Tang Jingling, 43, away from his home in Guangzhou and said he was suspected of "starting quarrels and provoking trouble", according to his wife, Wang Yanfang . Tang has represented clients complaining of corruption, land seizures and other grievances.

A man who answered the phone at the district police office that issued the criminal detention notice said he knew nothing about the case. He refused to give his name.

Each year, Beijing detains activists or puts them under house arrest ahead of the June 4 anniversary in an attempt to prevent commemorations of the crackdown. Last week, authorities detained lawyer Pu Zhiqiang, liberal scholar Xu Youyu, activist Liu Di and two other people after they attended a private forum on the 1989 crackdown.

This week, police took away Pu's aide and niece, Qu Zhenhong, on suspicion of "illegally obtaining personal information".

Also taken into custody this month were a Chinese assistant at the Chongqing bureau of Japan's Nikkei newspaper said to be connected to Pu's inquiry, and Gao Yu, a veteran reporter previously jailed for her writing on the Tiananmen protests, who was accused of "leaking state secrets".

Other detainees included Chen Guang, a former People's Liberation Army soldier who was deployed in 1989 near Tiananmen Square and later left the army and became a painter. He has urged authorities to allow unfettered discussion of the crackdown.

Tang's wife said domestic security officers had warned him earlier not to do anything to commemorate the 1989 crackdown. Police took away two personal computers, three cellphones, an address book, greeting cards from friends and books on human rights, she said.

Tang gained prominence in 2005 when he represented residents in a southern village seeking to impeach a local cadre over corruption. The effort failed, and the law firm Tang was working for came under pressure to terminate his contract, his wife said.

His licence to practise law, which must be reviewed annually, then expired as no firm was allowed to hire him, his wife said.

In 2006, Tang started a civil disobedience movement, urging people not to cooperate with the government by staying away from political groups, making no donations to them and refusing to take part in acts of bribery.

In another case, lawyer Liu Shihui has been detained in Shanghai, according to his girlfriend, Yue Senping. She said she had yet to find out the charge against him but noted that Liu was wearing a black shirt commemorating the 1989 pro-democracy movement and was on his way to meet a rights activist before he disappeared into police custody.

Liu was recently forced to relocate from Guangzhou to his hometown in the northern Inner Mongolia region.