Sun, Nov 04, 2007 - Page 1 News List

Chinese dissident Bao Zunxin laid to rest in Beijing

AP , BEIJING

Friends and family gathered yesterday for the funeral of veteran Chinese dissident Bao Zunxin (包遵信), while another rights activist complained of increased police harassment -- apparently to prevent him from attending the event.

Bao, a former historian at the official Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, died on Oct. 28 of a brain hemorrhage. He was 70.

Bao served close to three-and-a-half years in prison for anti-government incitement for his part in the student-led pro-democracy protests centered on Beijing's Tiananmen Square that were violently suppressed by the Chinese military on the night of June 3 to June 4, 1989.

About 100 people attended the funeral at Beijing's Dongjiao Crematorium. Some of them delivered brief eulogies recalling Bao's life and political activism.

There was little overt police presence at the funeral hall, although crematorium employees told a foreign TV crew to stop filming, saying special permits were required.

Another Beijing human rights activist, Hu Jia (胡佳), said he had been told by a district official from the State Security Bureau that already stringent restrictions on him and his wife were tightened further from Friday night.

"The goal was to prevent at all costs any chance of us being there to see off the respected Mr Bao," Hu said, adding that eight bureau agents had followed him and his pregnant wife, Zheng Jinyan (曾金燕), to a hospital on Friday for a pre-natal exam.

Yin Weihong, another veteran of the Tiananmen protests, said he had heard of a number of dissidents being barred from attending the funeral.

"They are taking a much harsher approach than usual," Yin said by telephone from his home in Wenzhou, 1,400km south of Beijing. Yin said agents from the local State Security Bureau who regularly check on his activities had asked whether he was planning on attending the funeral.

"I'm sure if I'd tried they would have stopped me," Yin said.

Like many among the older generation of Chinese dissidents, Bao continued to campaign for civic rights after his release, for which he was briefly detained twice.

In 1996, Bao authored a petition urging China's rubber-stamp legislature to order public officials to disclose their finances as a way to combat pervasive corruption.

Bao complained that China lacked the public debate, division of government powers and independent judiciary that check corruption in other countries.

"It is of no use to merely rely on the fostering of goodness and morality among public officials to contain corruption," Bao wrote in his petition to the legislature, which was ignored by the government.

Bao earlier edited a series of influential publications during the 1980s that promoted Western social science theories.

He was expelled from the Communist Party after his arrest, which was apparently sparked by his helping to write a petition that mocked Deng Xiaoping (鄧小平).

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