Beijing's Secret War on Human Rights Activists; Procession in the Mist: Performers Wreathed in Smog Wait for the Olympic Torch to Arrive at the Badaling Section of the Great Wall, the Nearest Part to Beijing

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

Beijing's Secret War on Human Rights Activists; Procession in the Mist: Performers Wreathed in Smog Wait for the Olympic Torch to Arrive at the Badaling Section of the Great Wall, the Nearest Part to Beijing


Byline: KIRAN RANDHAWA, SHEKHAR BHATIA

A CHINESE campaigner under constant surveillance today told 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 very edge of the Olympic Village, but is being watched round the clock by police officers who have based themselves in her apartment complex.

She said the move is 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.

Mrs Zhang said: "It's completely unjust to monitor us and make us prisoners in our own home.

"It's illegal, we are not under house arrest, we are just watched and have a constant presence outside our house." The 71-year-old retired engineer has been targeted by the authorities for founding the campaign group Tiananmen Mothers, after her son Wang Nan was killed aged 19 in the Tiananmen Square massacre which followed a pro-democracy demonstration in June 1989.

Since its foundation the group has been calling for the release of those still imprisoned and for a full and public accounting for the shootings.

Mrs Zhang and her husband Wang Fan Di, a 75-year-old retired music professor, have had two police officers outside their home, just minutes from the city's Birds Nest stadium, every day for the past week.

She added that a fellow founding member of Tiananmen Mothers, Ding Zilin, a Nobel peace prize nominee, has been removed from her home in Beijing by police officers, who escorted her out of the city. …

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