Cyber-dissident Huang Qi kidnapped, foreign journalists arrested in Sichuan
UPDATE: 5:04PM EST - June 14
Huang Qi and the other activists are still missing and no more information is known about them at this time.
The organization 'Reporters Without Borders' is concerned about the kidnapping of Huang Qi, the founder of the human rights website 64Tianwang. He is a leading cyber-dissident in China and three days ago was forced to get into a car with two other activists. This took place in Chengdu, the capital of the earthquake-hit province of Sichuan.
The Chengdu police claim they know nothing about their whereabouts but their abduction bears all the hallmarks of an operation by the Bureau of Public Security and could be linked to the arrest the previous day of Zheng Hongling, a retired university professor who posted a series of three articles about the earthquake on a US-based website.
"The abduction of Huang and his two companions one month to the day after the Sichuan earthquake shows that the crackdown on press freedom activists continues," Reporters Without Borders said. "We urge the authorities to conduct an investigation to find out where they are, and to free them at once."
The press freedom organisation added: "We also voice our support for Zheng, who was just using her right to free expression when she wrote three articles criticising the way the authorities in Mianyang, the city where she lives, handled earthquake relief operations. We call for her immediate release as well."
The editor of the 64Tianwang website, Zhang Guo Ting, said he thought the abduction was linked to the latest article posted by Huang, which was about Zheng's arrest on a charge of "divulging information abroad." Aged 53 and a former professor at the University of Technology of the Southwest, Zheng and her husband fled from the earthquake damage in Mianyang on 12 May and went to stay with a friend, Huang Shaopu, in Chengdu.
From there, Zheng wrote her three articles, entitled "Tales of my adventures during the earthquake," for Observe China, a Chinese website hosted in the United States. She was charged on 9 June with publishing articles criticising the authorities for not letting NGOs do their job. She is being held in Mianyang prison. Huang Shaopu was questioned by the police because the articles were sent from his computer, but he said he did not know they were being published.
Every since the earthquake, 44-year-old Huang Qi had been posting articles on 64Tianwang criticising the way the relief was being organised. He wrote on 20 May: "The reports we are seeing are biased. In reality, it is very difficult for NGOs to deliver food aid. They are obliged to go through government channels. The government is using its propaganda to portray itself as a saviour to little avail. Few citizens trust the government because of the corruptions scandals that already occurred during similar disasters in the past."