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Chinese Dissident Reported Missing - 2002-11-27

A rights group reports that Chinese dissident Zhao Changqing is missing and may be in police custody after he circulated an open petition calling for greater democracy in China. Amnesty International, a human rights watchdog, says Zhao Changqing has been missing since the beginning of November. The group says he was probably arrested during the 16th Communist Party Congress in Beijing earlier this month.

Dominique Muller is a researcher for Amnesty International in Hong Kong. She says Mr. Zhao and other activists wrote a petition against the government that was released during the Party Congress. "The open letter to the party congress was calling for a reassessment of the Party's verdict on the pro-democracy protest in 1989," she says. "It was calling for more democracy and for the release of prisoners of conscience around China."

Ms. Muller says Mr. Zhao's family is seeking confirmation from authorities of his status. Mr. Zhao has been imprisoned in the past, after speaking out against the Communist Party and government policies.

Mr. Zhao took part in the 1989 pro-democracy Tiananmen Square protests. He was arrested and sentenced to three years imprisonment in 1998 after running for election for a local legislative seat in the northern province of Shaanxi.

Amnesty International says at least four other activists and political dissidents were detained around the time of the party congress. Some, however, have since been released.