China: long-term pro-democracy activist arrested after criticising the detention of fellow defenders over COVID-19 information sharingEvent
- Initial Date
- Apr 29, 2020
- Event Description
Meanwhile, police detained activist Xie Wenfei on April 29 on suspicion of "picking quarrels and provoking trouble."
Xie is a veteran rights activist in China's Hunan province. He recently has criticized the detention of three young volunteers who archived censored information about COVID-19 online, and questioned the disappearance in Wuhan of citizen journalists Chen Qiushi and Fang Bing. He also signed an online petition to honor the COVID-19 whistleblower Dr. Li Wenliang.
"This is not the first arrest," his brother Xie Qiufeng told VOA. "The police didn't tell me anything specific. I think it's about what he had posted on WeChat again."
Born in 1977, Xie Yunfei is a veteran activist who has been detained many times for exercising his rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly over the years. He previously served a 4.5-year prison sentence for supporting the 2014 Occupy Central protests in Hong Kong.
Xie's friend Ou Biaofeng, who is also an activist, told VOA that he's not surprised about Xie's arrest.
Ou said that in recent years, the government has severely reduced the space for civil liberties by rounding up rights lawyers, labor activists and citizen journalists. He added that anyone who expresses a slightly different opinion online will have their account blocked immediately.
"The pro-democracy movement in China has entered a freezing winter because of the crackdown," he said. "The pressure is just enormous. Also, for the past year or two, there's been less and less support of civil movements. It's quite sad."
The press freedom group Reporters Without Borders ranked China near the bottom of its 2020 press freedom index. The group said President Xi is tightening control over news and information and trying to export the country's oppressive surveillance systems.
- Impact of Event
- Gender of HRD
- (Arbitrary) Arrest and Detention
- Judicial Harassment
- Rights Concerned
- Right to information
- Right to liberty and security
- Blogger/ Social Media Activist
- Pro-democracy activist
- Event Location
- Summary for Publications
On 29 April 200, Xie Wenfei, long-term pro-democracy activist, was arrested by the police after criticising the detention of fellow defenders over COVID-19 information sharing in Hunan Province, China.