Guangdong police have formally arrested a rights activist after holding him in custody for three weeks for advising Taishi villagers during their fight to oust the village chief, according to a lawyer who visited him recently. Yang Maodong , better known as Guo Feixiong, had restarted a hunger strike after recovering from medical treatment ordered when he fell ill and lost more than 10kg from a previous strike, lawyer Guo Yan said. 'A police officer, surnamed Xiong from Panyu police station, called me on Tuesday afternoon and told me that they had officially arrested Mr Yang,' she said, adding that the officer had urged her to collect the arrest notice from the station as soon as possible. She said the arrest, which officially starts criminal proceedings against Mr Yang, had dashed hopes for a temporary release on bail. Mr Yang can be detained for up to six months before he is brought to trial. Yang Maoping, Mr Yang's elder sister, said she would support him, but was concerned about his safety. Mr Yang was detained for 'disturbing social stability by mass gathering' on September 13 - a day after more than 1,000 armed police stormed the Taishi government office and took away dozens of villagers. The villagers were demanding the removal of village head Chen Jinshen after alleging that he had misused village funds. Villagers in Taishi have also lost their freedom since the riot on September 12. They are not allowed to talk with outsiders and the number of villagers still detained by the police remains unclear. Zhao Xin, a human right activist, said funds were being raised to hire lawyers to plead for the arrested villagers. By yesterday, 2,000 yuan had been raised.