Chinese Authorities Detain Civil Rights Activist (Updated)

From Financial Times:

Chinese authorities have detained a prominent Chinese civil rights activist in an escalation of Beijing’s ongoing crackdown on non-governmental organisations.

Xu Zhiyong, a legal scholar and organiser of a legal help group that was shut down earlier this month, was taken away by a group of uniformed policemen and plainclothes officers from his residential compound early Wednesday, according to witnesses and colleagues of Mr Xu.

The detention follows a series of steps against NGOs and their organisers, especially people providing legal aid in cases seen as politically sensitive by the authorities. It comes as Beijing faces growing dissent and unrest just as it prepares to mark the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China with celebrations on October 1.

Read more about the shuttering of Xu’s Open Constitution Initiative, via CDT.

Update: From Evan Osnos of the New Yorker:

At around 5 A.M. on Wednesday, Chinese authorities visited the home of Xu Zhiyong, a prominent legal scholar and elected legislator in Beijing, and led him away. He has not been heard from again. Unless something changes, he is likely to stay away for a long time, with or without formal charges. Anyone with an interest in China, its economy, its place in the world, or the kind of future it will fashion, please take note: This is a big deal.

[…] Xu has never set out to undermine one-party rule; he is enforcing rights guaranteed in the Chinese Constitution. He has enough faith in the system that he joined it: in 2003, he ran for and won a seat as a legislator in his local district assembly, one of the few independent candidates to be elected in an open, contested election. He even received the recognition, rare among activists, of being profiled last year in a Chinese newspaper. “I have taken part in politics in pursuit of a better and more civilized nation,” he said at the time. “I am determined to prove to the citizens across the country that politics should be desirable.”


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