Chinese rights activist Yang Maodong arrested

Novelist (47) detained as part of government crackdown on campaigners

A “citizen” logo is being used by some Chinese rights activists who identify themselves with the New Citizens’ Movement. Photograph: Chinese Human Rights Defenders

A “citizen” logo is being used by some Chinese rights activists who identify themselves with the New Citizens’ Movement. Photograph: Chinese Human Rights Defenders

Sun, Aug 18, 2013, 22:55

Guangzhou-based human rights defender Yang Maodong, who is better known under his pen name Guo Fengxiong, has been detained on public order offences in southern China, human rights groups said on Sunday.

Mr Yang (47), a novelist and publisher, has advocated a movement to promote Chinese civil society, and he is the second member of a loose alliance calling for “rights defence” to be arrested in recent weeks.

Mr Yang’s lawyer Sui Muqing said Mr Yang had been held since August 8th for “assembling a crowd to disrupt order in a public place”, according to the detention notice his sister received.


Street protest
Chinese Human Rights Defenders reported news of his arrest in a blog entry. Rights groups say Mr Yang’s arrest was part of a broader crackdown on activists trying to challenge the Communist Party over censorship and officials’ wealth, and they say many activists have been detained in recent weeks.

Mr Sui said the chief reason for Mr Yang’s arrest was his involvement in a street protest to support journalists at the liberal Southern Weekly, who were demonstrating against censorship at the paper.

In July, police in Beijing arrested Xu Zhiyong, a legal activist. Earlier this month, Mr Xu delivered a video message from inside a Beijing jail, urging citizens to unite in pursuing democratic freedoms.

Mr Yang first came to prominence in 2005 when organising a village protest at Taishi near Guangzhou over land grabs.

He spent five years in jail until his release in 2011 for alleged illegal business activities. He said he had been wrongly imprisoned and subjected to treatment “beyond people’s imagination” while in prison.

Since his release he has been involved in a number of civil rights events, such as the elections in the southern town of Wukan and calls for an investigation into the suspicious death of Tiananmen Square activist Li Wangyang.

Five years in prison
If Mr Yang is formally charged, he could be sentenced to up to five years in prison.

China takes a hard line on dissent. Activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo was jailed for 11 years in 2009 on subversion charges for organising a petition urging the overthrow of one-party rule.