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Dissident’s Family in Financial Crisis Following Unexplained Detention

April 6, 2006


Human Rights in China (HRIC) has learned that the family of Beijing-based dissident Qi Zhiyong has been targeted financially and its survival threatened after Qin's release from arbitrary detention on March 28.

A worker during the protests in Tiananmen Square in 1989, Qi was shot when troops cracked down on protesters on the evening of June 3rd. His leg had to be amputated as a result, but Qi never received compensation for his injury. He has remained active in human rights issues and has been placed under official surveillance and periodic house arrest. Last September, unidentified thugs reportedly attacked Qi outside his home and beat him so severely that he suffered a broken rib. According to reports, police officers had telephoned Qi minutes before the attack to ask if he was at home.

Earlier this year, Qi joined the hunger strike organized by lawyer and rights defender Gao Zhisheng. He was placed under house arrest on February 8, and on February 15, plainclothes officers from the Xuanwu District National Defense Squad detained Qi without explanation or following procedures required by law. He was released 42 days later on March 28.

Sources say that upon returning home, Qi learned from his wife, Lu Shiying, that she had been dismissed from her job because of his activities. Two days later, the family received notice from the Xuanwu District Business and Development Department that as of April 11, the family’s small shop would be closed down on the grounds of “building code violations,” thus eliminating their last means of livelihood. With a young daughter still in primary school, the family is in despair over the prospects for their survival.

HRIC protests the continual harassment of Qi and his family, through both official and indirect means, as retaliation for his participation in peaceful exercises of expression that are protected in the PRC Constitution. Government authorities are increasingly relying on thug violence and other forms of quasi-official intimidation to silence dissent and maintain order, and reports indicate that participants in the 1989 democracy movement remain particularly vulnerable to repression. Instead of engaging in unlawful retaliation against Qi and his family, the local authorities should address their urgent financial situation, and provide any disability allowance provided for by law to compensate Qi for the injuries he suffered in the 1989 crackdown.