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Rights Group Protest China's Pre-Olympics Arrests


Human rights groups are calling for the immediate release of Chinese Internet writer Du Daobin after he was rearrested earlier this week, saying his detention is part of a pre-Olympics crackdown on political dissent. From VOA's New York Bureau, Mona Ghuneim reports.

International human rights organizations say the arrest of Du Daobin is another example of China's freedom of speech violations. They say the writer and former political prisoner was arrested by Chinese public security officials and accused of violating conditions of his release, including continuing to write online articles and receiving guests without permission.

Bob Dietz, of the Committee to Protect Journalists, says the rearrest of the prominent dissident writer came as a surprise to him. Du's arrest comes just days before his probationary period for 2004 charges was set to expire. Dietz says Du's lawyer has not seen any documents related to the arrest and considers the detention suspicious.

"China is very uncomfortable with having people critical of the government speaking out at this time," he said. "It's not clear to me exactly what Mr. Du had been doing this time. I think this might be a cautionary tactic on the part of the government to try and stifle any potential voices of criticism."

Dietz says Du is one of 27 journalists who are in Chinese jails.

Larry Siems of the PEN American Center says the New York-based nonprofit writer-support organization puts the number at 45, including writers, journalists and bloggers. But both advocates agree that China is not delivering on its promise for greater media freedom.

Siems says Du's arrest, which follows the news of charges against another Chinese writer and human rights advocate, Huang Qi, is an attempt by China to "shelve one more prominent dissident before the Olympics." He says Du is a member of PEN America's affiliate organization in China, the Independent Chinese PEN Center, which is also denouncing the arrest.

Siems says Du's arrest is part of what he calls China's "cold political calculations."

"It comes three weeks after it [China] had detained two other Independent Chinese PEN Center members and lawyers who had been invited by two U.S. representatives [congressmen] who were in Beijing - Christopher Smith and Frank Wolf - to have dinner with them to discuss the human rights situation in China and the authorities detained them and made it impossible for them to go to that dinner," he said.

The Chinese government has called the charges of a pre-Olympic campaign against dissidents "groundless."

Rights groups are calling on the international community to make sure all arrests or detentions in China are reported and to pressure China to address human rights violations.

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