Radio Free Asia
A Chinese civil rights activist has been redetained and formally arrested, just months after his release from a three-year prison term for subversion, RFA has learned.
Huang Wenxun, 29, was released last May after serving a jail sentence handed down by a court in Chibi city in the central province of Hubei.
Known as one of the Chibi Three, Huang was released on May 13, but was held under surveillance before finally being allowed to return to his home in Huizhou city, Guangdong.
Huang’s wife, Zhang Yiqiong, told RFA she had received a call from state security police in Huizhou’s Boluo county on Friday notifying her of his formal arrest.
Huang was detained as he was setting out for a run on Oct. 10 to mark the founding of the 1911 Republic of China by Sun Yat-sen, the remnant of which now forms the government of the democratic island of Taiwan.
“He posted a message to group chat calling on people to celebrate the day by taking some form of physical exercise,” Zhang said. “He said it would be very meaningful to do some kind of exercise on the Double Tenth.”
Zhang said Huang has now been formally arrested on suspicion of “picking quarrels and stirring up trouble,” a charge commonly used to target peaceful critics of the ruling Chinese Communist Party.
|Huang Wenxun (L) and his wife Zhang Yiqiong
(R) in an undated photo.
Photo courtesy of Zhang Yiqiong
“I really think they are overreacting,” she said. “I think they are probably trying to score political points, and trying to get funding for stability maintenance.”
“That’s why they are making such a big deal out of it,” she said.
Huang was previously targeted for his involvement in press freedom protests outside the Southern group of newspapers in the southern city of Guangzhou, after a local propaganda official rewrote the 2013 New Year’s Day editorial to remove references to constitutional government.
He was held in prolonged pretrial incarceration after his initial detention by police in the southern province of Guangdong in June 2013.
A person close to the family who declined to be named said Huang had been under very close surveillance by police following his release.
Freedom of speech
Fellow rights activist Yuan Xiaohua said Huang’s redetention was a violation of his constitutional right to freedom of speech.
“There should be freedom of speech, according to the constitution, and there’s nothing really controversial about celebrating Oct. 10, certainly not to the extent of picking quarrels and stirring up trouble,” Yuan said.
“Oct. 10 is a part of China’s history, and it’s normal to want to do something to express that.”
Calls to the Boluo County Detention Center and to the Boluo county police department rang unanswered during office hours on Monday.
Huang Wenxun was detained around the same time as fellow New Citizens’ Movement activists Yuan Fengchu, also known as Yuan Bing, and Yuan Xiaohua, who were sentenced to three-and-a-half and four years respectively last month for “picking quarrels and stirring up trouble.”
All three were held in prolonged pretrial incarceration after their initial detention by police in the southern province of Guangdong in June 2013.
Rights groups said at the time that Huang’s trial was entirely political in nature, and targeted young activists campaigning for democracy and constitutional government.
Reported by Gao Feng for RFA’s Mandarin Service, and by Wong Lok-to for the Cantonese Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.