Wed, Jan 19, 2005 - Page 5 News List

Beijing ready to nip Zhao-related activities in bud

CLOSE WATCH China's security officials are keeping guard outside activists' homes to prevent any activities commemorating the deposed party leader's death

AFP , BEIJING

Two police officers move a banner bearing a photo of late Chinese premier Zhao Ziyang outside China's liaison office in Hong Kong yesterday.

PHOTO: AP

Dissidents and civil rights campaigners yesterday said the government is watching them more closely after the death of deposed Chinese leader Zhao Ziyang (趙紫陽), preventing them from holding commemorative activities.

Qi Zhiyong (齊志勇), who lost a leg after being shot by a soldier in the bloody Tiananmen crackdown in 1989, said police have been guarding the entrance of his home since Monday morning, after Zhao died.

"I found police outside my front door after I came home from the acupuncture clinic," he said.

Qi said he has been sending messages through his mobile phone to urge friends to go to Zhao's home or attend any memorial services that might be arranged -- but there is one problem.

"We call on those people who have a conscience to wear a white ribbon and black armband, to get out there," Qi said.

"But some people have been placed under surveillance and I can't really go out myself either," he said.

Zhao, China's premier and head of the Communist Party for much of the 1980s, was ousted from power for opposing the military crackdown on the 1989 protests. Hundreds if not thousands of unarmed protesters and citizens were killed when tanks and troops moved into central Beijing.

AIDS activist Hu Jia (胡佳), who is away from the capital on business, said he was told by friends that police have been on watch outside his Beijing home since Monday morning.

"My friends are telling me not to come back to Beijing. But I must return. The first thing I need to do is to buy a wreath and find out where a memorial is being held," he said. "If there is no way to find out, we'll go to Tiananmen Square."

Ding Zilin (丁子霖), whose 17-year-old son was gunned down during the 1989 protest, said police phoned her home yesterday morning and asked for her opinion on Zhao's death.

Ding, who has been campaigning for an official vindication of the 1989 protests with a group called the Tiananmen Mothers, said plainclothes police were outside her home yesterday.

She said she was also followed when she went out in a taxi.

She declined to say whether she and others were planning to organize activities to commemorate Zhao.

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