A Chi­nese raid on a ma­jor NGO

Cur­rent ac­tion is seen as worst clam­p­down since Tianan­men

The Washington Post - - FRONT PAGE - BY WIL­LIAM WAN wil­[email protected]­post.com Xu Yangjingjing con­trib­uted to this re­port.

co­in­cided with the ar­rival of Olympics in­spec­tors in Bei­jing.

bei­jing — Chi­nese po­lice raided a high-pro­file non­govern­men­tal or­ga­ni­za­tion this week, tak­ing its com­put­ers and fi­nan­cial doc­u­ments, the group said, the lat­est ac­tion in a grow­ing gov­ern­ment crack­down on dis­sent.

About 20 men dressed in po­lice uni­forms and claim­ing to be rep­re­sen­ta­tives of a Bei­jing po­lice bureau barged into the of­fices of the Bei­jing Yiren­ping Cen­ter early Tues­day morn­ing, mem­bers of the anti-dis­crim­i­na­tion group said.

The po­lice also tem­po­rar­ily de­tained a Yiren­ping em­ployee, said the or­ga­ni­za­tion, which fo­cuses on elim­i­nat­ing dis­crim­i­na­tion against dis­ad­van­taged groups such as women, car­ri­ers of hep­ati­tis B and HIV, and peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties.

For more than two weeks, the Yiren­ping Cen­ter has been cam­paign­ing for the re­lease of five women’s rights ad­vo­cates, whose ar­rests just ahead of In­ter­na­tional Women’s Day prompted world­wide con­dem­na­tion.

This week’s raid ap­pears to be re­tal­i­a­tion for spot­light­ing the plight of the five women, said Yiren­ping co-founder Lu Jun. De­tails of the raid were made public late Wed­nes­day and early Thurs­day by the or­ga­ni­za­tion.

The raid took place the same day an In­ter­na­tional Olympic Com­mit­tee panel ar­rived in Bei­jing to begin a five-day in­spec­tion of the city’s bid to host the 2022 Win­ter Olympics. The con­ver­gence of th­ese two events was noted by hu­man rights groups as the lat­est sign that the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment in­tends to ig­nore in­ter­na­tional con­cerns and spe­cific stip­u­la­tions laid out by Olympic or­ga­niz­ers.

Say­ing the fact that the in­spec­tion co­in­cided with the raid was “deeply ironic,” Maya Wang, a Hu­man Rights Watch ex­pert, noted that the Olympic Com­mit­tee’s re­cently re­vised strat­egy doc­u­ment, called Olympic Agenda 2020, “obliges host gov­ern­ments to sign a con­tract with an ex­plicit an­tidis­crim­i­na­tion clause.”

The Yiren­ping in­ci­dent, Wang said, “rings alarm bells about the gov­ern­ment’s hard­en­ing at­ti­tudes to­wards NGOs.”

Dur­ing the past two years, since Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping’s rise to power, China has car­ried out a fierce crack­down on dis­sent, cov­er­ing civil so­ci­ety groups, blog­gers and even aca­demics. Many hu­man rights and ad­vo­cacy groups, both abroad and within China, have called it the worst clam­p­down since the pe­riod af­ter gov­ern­ment troops opened fire on Tianan­men Square pro­test­ers in 1989.

The five women’s rights ad­vo­cates for whom Yiren­ping had been cam­paign­ing were ar­rested ear­lier this month while plan­ning to hand out leaflets on In­ter­na­tional Women’s Day, March 8, to raise aware­ness against sex­ual ha­rass­ment on public trans­porta­tion. Since then, thou­sands of rights ad­vo­cates glob­ally have signed pe­ti­tions de­mand­ing their re­lease. Some Chi­nese uni­ver­si­ties have tried to bar stu­dents from show­ing sup­port for the five women.

Bri­tish and Euro­pean Union diplo­mats have also called for the women’s re­lease. Last Fri­day, U.S. Am­bas­sador to the United Na­tions Sa­man­tha Power said, “If China is com­mit­ted to ad­vanc­ing the rights of women, then it should be work­ing to ad­dress the is­sues raised by th­ese women’s rights ac­tivists — not si­lenc­ing them.”

When asked about the ar­rested women, Chi­nese For­eign Min­istry spokes­woman Hua Chun­y­ing said, “No one has the right to ask China to re­lease rel­e­vant per­sons, so we hope that rel­e­vant peo­ple will stop in­ter­fer­ing in China’s ju­di­cial sovereignty in such a man­ner.”

Ac­cord­ing to their at­tor­neys, the women have spent the past few days un­der re­peated in­ter­ro­ga­tion and have been asked to “ad­mit their mis­takes.” Wu Ron­grong, one of the women, has hep­ati­tis B and was de­nied med­i­ca­tion for more than a week be­fore she was trans­ferred to the med­i­cal fa­cil­ity at the detention cen­ter where she is be­ing held, her at­tor­ney said.

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