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Internet Activist Li Yibin Detained

December 17, 2002

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Human Rights in China (HRIC) has learned of the detention of yet another Internet activist following the secret detention of Liu Di, “the Stainless Steel Mouse,” one month ago.

Sources in China have told HRIC that Li Yibin, publisher of the online magazine “Democracy and Freedom,” was secretly detained around the same time as Liu Di, and his whereabouts remain unknown.

Li Yibin, believed to be aged 28, posted on the Internet under the pseudonyms “Yangchun” or “Yangchun Baixue.” (Note: Yangchun, or “Springtime,” is a phrase referring to a time of enlightened rule. Yangchun Baixue, or “Spring Snow,” is a phrase referring to highbrow music or literature.) Li graduated with a degree in computer science before going to work in Beijing.

One source told HRIC that many more internet activists have probably been arrested over the past month, but like Li Yibin and Liu Di most of these activists have little contact with the outside world, and their disappearances have not yet come to widespread attention.

Liu Di was arrested more than a month ago on November 7, and her present whereabouts are still unconfirmed. HRIC made inquiries at Beijing Normal University, where Liu is a fourth-year student in the psychology department. The deputy head of the university’s security section, Liu Miao, denied that Liu Di had been secretly detained. Liu Miao said the public security police had formally arrested Liu Di and added, “We’ve already passed the arrest warrant to Liu Di’s grandmother, and we’ve kept a photocopy for our records.”

But Liu Di’s grandmother, Zhang Heng denied this claim, saying, “Apart from the warrant they showed me when they came to search our home, the authorities haven’t given me any documents whatsoever up to this time. I have not yet been informed whether Liu Di has been arrested or detained.” During HRIC’s telephone conversation with Zhang Heng the line suddenly went dead, and HRIC hasn’t been able to reestablish telephone contact with her.

Sources in China told HRIC that the recent arrests are part of increasing efforts by the Chinese authorities to crack down on free dissemination of news and discussion over the Internet.

HRIC strongly protests the secret detentions of Liu Di, Li Yibin and others, and calls for the release of all Internet activists currently in detention. HRIC president Liu Qing says, “The Chinese government’s recent emphasis on controlling the Internet shows that it is determined to eliminate any shred of free expression in China. Liu Di, Li Yibin and others have done nothing more than post their views, but the government’s current obsession with the Internet has subjected them to harsh persecution and retribution. We can only hope that attention and pressure from the international community will persuade Chinese authorities to loosen their grip.”

HRIC requests that the cases of Liu Di, Li Yibin and other cases of suppression of free expression be raised by U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Lorne Craner during his current discussions on human rights with the Chinese government in Beijing.

For more information, contact:
Stacy Mosher (English) 212-268-9074
Liu Qing (Chinese) 212-239-4495

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