On April 16, police took away some 20 lawyers and rights defenders in Hefei, Anhui Province, who were protesting the removal of a10-year-old from a local school she was attending. Sources told Human Rights in China that the action was organized by the Ministry of State Security, as opposed to local Hefei police.
According to our sources, three are being administratively detained: Yao Cheng (姚诚), for 15 days, and Zhou Weilin (周维林) and Sun Lin (孙林), each for 10 days; several were forcibly taken back to their home towns, including Chen Qitang (陈启棠)—a.k.a. Tian Li (天理)—Gu He (姑鹤), Gao Xiaojun（高晓君), Sun Lin’s wife, and Yang Chong (杨崇).
The supporters had rallied around Zhang Anni (张安妮), the daughter of Anhui dissident Zhang Lin (张林). Father and daughter had moved to Hefei in February this year from Bengbu, their hometown, to be with Zhang’s older daughter, who is attending university in the city. Anni began attending the Amber Elementary School, but was forcibly taken out of school by four unidentified men on February 27. That night, the police took father and daughter back to Bengbu.
Since then, Anni’s case has attracted a great deal of public attention. Lawyers and rights defenders from different parts of the country began coming to Anhui in support of Anni’s right to return to school.
On April 7, rights defense lawyers Xu Zhiyong (许志永), Zhao Yonglin (赵永林), Tang Tianhao (唐天昊), and Tian Li, along with Yao Cheng, a volunteer, went to Zhang’s home in Bengbu, and accompanied him and Anni back to Hefei to meet with supporters. The following day, April 8, 40 supporters, including volunteers from “Women's Rights,” an overseas rights organization, accompanied Zhang Lin and Anni to the Amber Elementary School in an attempt to get Anni back to school. According to informed sources, the school principal told the group that the physical removal of Anni from school in February had caused great distress among the students and teachers, and that the school would re-admit Anni only if Zhang Lin could obtain a written guarantee from the “relevant department” that the same thing would not happen again.
On April 10, two rights activists Li Huaping (李化平), from Shanghai, and Chen Yunfei (陈云飞), from Chengdu, set up a tent in front of the Anhui Province Public Security Bureau to protest. On the same day, the rights defense lawyer Liu Weiguo (刘卫国) staged a 24-hour-hunger strike in front of the Amber Elementary School. He invited Chinese citizens to participate in a rolling hunger strike until Zhang Anni regained the right to attend school.
Sources say that, on the morning of April 16, the protesters were forced out of the garden by authorities and taken to the Shushan Branch of Hefei Public Security Bureau, and the Zhangs were sent back to Bengbu. Some supporters staying at a nearby hotel were taken away by more than10 State Security policemen, and the hotel was forced to close for two days for “rectification.”
Zhang, after he was sent back to Bengbu, wrote in his microblog: "Around 9:30 a.m. today, two unidentified people broke into my hotel room in Hefei followed by more than a dozen other people. They took me out of the room. I shouted: ‘Kidnapping! Kidnapping!’ They grasped my right arm so tightly that I thought it was broken. They covered my mouth several times. The hallway was filled with unidentified people, hundreds of them." Zhang also said," I was held tightly by three people, and was pushed into a vehicle, which took off at high speed. "
Zhang Lin is a veteran political dissident in Anhui. Since the 1980s, he had been sentenced and sent to Reeducation-through-labor several times only because of articles he wrote and published and his participation in pro-democracy activities. Zhang received an early release in August 2009, and is currently subjected to deprivation of political rights, which includes severe restrictions on Zhang’s activities as a writer and activist.
For more information on Zhang Lin and Zhang Annie, see: