Rights groups appeal for dissident's release

INTERNATIONAL human rights organisations are to appeal to the Chinese Government for the immediate release of Shanghai dissident Fu Shenqi, who was reportedly sentenced to three years in a labour camp by police last week.

The London-based Amnesty International will write a letter to both the authorities in Beijing and Shanghai today asking for Fu's release and information of other dissidents who were arrested recently in Shanghai.

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists has also written to President Jiang Zemin and Premier Li Peng to express its ''shock and concern'' at Fu's sentencing.

Veteran dissident Wang Ruowang, who now lives in the United States, issued a statement on Wednesday calling on all overseas Chinese democracy organisations to join forces to fight for Fu's freedom.

According to dissident sources, Fu's wife, Li Liping, was still in the dark about her husband's whereabouts.

Fu, a veteran activist from the Democracy Wall Movement, was taken away by Shanghai police late last month and has since lost contact with his family.

His wife was told by police last week that he had been sentenced to three years in a labour camp for inciting four other activists to stage a hunger strike in early June demanding the release of dissident Zhang Xianliang.

Fu, 38, was also accused of giving interviews to foreign journalists, according to Ms Li.

On Tuesday, Shanghai activists Wang Yonggang, Gong Xingnan, Yang Qinheng and Bao Ge wrote to the Shanghai Public Security Bureau explaining their hunger strike last month was not related to Fu.

The letter also pointed out that it was against the constitution to detain Fu for giving interviews to foreign journalists.

Fu was released last February after he had been detained for almost two years for having committed ''counter-revolutionary propaganda and incitement''.