Beijing fears independent candidate, arrests democracy campaigner – SCMP

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Yao Lifa, a symbol of democratic political activism, was arrested together with another five independent candidates in Hubei. Released after six hours, he called on 900 million Chinese voters not to give into the Party’s fraud and to use their vote.

He was trying to challenge the Communist Party’s dominance over local elections by presenting a civic list, a possibility allowed by law, but he was arrested. This happened yesterday in the centre-eastern province of Hubei to the famous democracy activist Yao Lifa and five of his friends.

Yao and the rest were planning to mobilize people to run in local people’s congress elections. The arrests indicate the extent of state control over the situation in the counties and towns in the lead-up to the vote: Yao is considered to be a symbol of China’s growing democratic movement: close to the grassroots, he managed to win a seat in the people’s congress in Qianjiang city in 1999. The arrest came about as the six independent candidates – from Wuhan, Qianjiang and Xiantao – were having a meal in Xiantao. Yao said they were discussing their election campaigns and how to expose electoral fraud when they were arrested by plain-clothes police officers. [Full Text]

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