Beijing police have interrogated, beaten and detained attorneys involved in the case of a blind human rights activist who has lashed out over his “illegal” house arrest, lawyers said yesterday.
The accusations followed incidents this week in which several foreign journalists were roughed up by plainclothes enforcers as they tried to visit activist Chen Guangcheng (陳光誠) at his home in Shandong Province.
Police and state security agents broke up a lunch meeting of about a dozen lawyers in Beijing on Wednesday, taking them in for questioning, said attorney Teng Biao (滕彪), who is known for his involvement in sensitive rights--related cases.
At least one lawyer remains in custody and another was beaten in a police station, he said.
Chen, a self-taught lawyer who gained worldwide attention by exposing abuses in the “one child” population control policy, has been under house arrest in the city of Linyi since completing a jail term of more than four years in September last year.
Chen re-emerged into the human rights spotlight last week with the release of a daring video smuggled from his home in which he railed against his “illegal” house arrest and the “hooligan methods” of local authorities.
The video and claims by activists that he and his wife Yuan Weijing (袁偉) were subsequently beaten — allegedly by police — have enraged China’s beleaguered community of rights lawyers and activists.
“The police warned me not to get involved in the Chen Guangcheng matter. I think they are mainly worried about protest activities,” Teng said of the police actions.
Teng, who is under house arrest with police posted outside his -Beijing home, said Chinese authorities could be stepping up controls as they do every year ahead of the annual parliament gathering, which opens on March 5.
He added official nervousness might be heightened by the Middle East unrest. Chinese censors sanitized media reports and blocked online discussion of events in Egypt, apparently fearful it could spark democracy calls in China.
Lawyer Jiang Tianyong (江天勇) was beaten during interrogation by Beijing police on Wednesday night, human rights attorney Li Fangping (李方平) told reporters.
Police also took lawyer Tang Jitian (唐吉田) away from his home and he remains in custody, Li said.
“The police are becoming more and more violent. We are very worried about this,” Li said.