Mon, Jul 28, 2008 - Page 4 News List

China detains housing activist ahead of Games

AFP , BEIJING

China detained a jailed housing activist on the day he was supposed to be released from prison, in a likely attempt to rein in dissent before next month’s Olympics, his brother said yesterday.

Ye Guozhu (葉國柱) was due for release from jail on Saturday after serving a four-year sentence, but instead his family was told he had been detained again, said the brother, Ye Guoqiang (葉國強).

“They said he had been detained on suspicions of gathering a crowd to disturb social order ... But my brother has been in jail for the past four years, so how could he have done that?” Ye Guoqiang said.

“I think they’re behaving this way because of the Olympics,” he said in a telephone interview.

Ye Guozhu, who was evicted from his home to make way for a facility to be used in the Beijing Olympics, was jailed for four years in 2004 after asking for permission to arrange a protest of 10,000 people against forced evictions.

He is the latest dissident to fall victim to Chinese authorities’ endeavors to keep dissidents on a tight leash before and during the Games, which will last from Aug. 8 to Aug. 24.

In an parallel case, online dissident Du Daobin (杜導斌) was jailed last week just before the end of his four-year probation period.

One of the most high profile activists to have been jailed ahead of the Olympics is Hu Jia (胡佳), who was sentenced to three-and-a-half years in prison after a one-day trial in April on charges of inciting subversion.

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