Beijing's Secret War on Human Rights Activists; Prisoner in Her Home: Zhang Xianling with a Picture of Her Son Wang Nan

The Evening Standard (London, England), August 7, 2008 | Go to article overview

Beijing's Secret War on Human Rights Activists; Prisoner in Her Home: Zhang Xianling with a Picture of Her Son Wang Nan


Byline: KIRAN RANDHAWA, SHEKHAR BHATIA

A CHINESE campaigner under constant surveillance told today how activists have been detained, put under house arrest or driven out of Beijing in a last-minute clampdown before the Olympic opening ceremony tomorrow.

Zhang Xianling lives on the edge of the Olympic Village, but is being watched round the clock by police who have based themselves in her apartment complex. She said the move was a last-ditch measure to prevent protests during the Games.

The long-time human rights defender, who invited the Evening Standard into her home despite being monitored, said she wanted the world to "know the truth" about China.

Her invitation came as President Bush expressed "deep concerns" about China's human rights record just hours before he flew to Beijing for the Games.

Mr Bush told an audience in Bangkok: "The US believes the people of China deserve the fundamental liberty that is the natural right of all human beings.

America stands in firm opposition to China's detention of political dissidents, human rights advocates and religious activists." However, his speech earned him a rebuke from the Chinese government. Foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang said: "The Chinese government puts people first, and is dedicated to maintaining and promoting its citizens' basic rights and freedoms.

Chinese citizens have freedom of religion.

These are indisputable facts." He added: "We firmly oppose any words or acts that interfere in other countries' internal affairs. …

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