Gui Minhai Detained While Traveling to Beijing

Gui Minhai Detained While Traveling to Beijing

Gui Minhai, who was detained in 2015 as part of a roundup of five booksellers and publishers associated with Hong Kong’s Mighty Current Media and Causeway Bay bookstore, has again been detained while traveling to have a medical examination in Beijing. Gui, a Swedish citizen, had been released in October 2017 and was living under tight surveillance in Ningbo, according to his daughter, Angela Gui, who is currently studying in England. Gui was traveling to Beijing by train, accompanied by two Swedish consular officials, when about ten security officials came aboard and led him away, according to Ms. Gui. Chris Buckley at The New York Times reports:

Mr. Gui was sitting on a train bound for Beijing, accompanied by two diplomats from the Swedish Consulate in Shanghai, Ms. Gui said. As the train neared Beijing, plainclothes police officers boarded at a station and led Mr. Gui away. His daughter said she did not have details of what happened, and did not know whether he or the diplomats resisted.

“I just know that things have taken a very drastic turn for the worse,” said Ms. Gui, who has led a campaign to win her father’s freedom.

“This group of about 10 men in plain clothes just came in and grabbed him from the train and took him away,” she said. “I presume it must have been quite a scene.”

[…] “The Swedish government is fully aware of what happened to Swedish citizen Gui Minhai on Saturday,” Katarina Byrenius Roslund, the deputy director of the Press and News Department of the ministry, said by email. “These events have subsequently been handled with the utmost seriousness, and robust measures have been taken at senior political level.” [Source]

Gui was reportedly traveling to Beijing to receive a medical examination after experiencing symptoms of the neurological disorder ALS, Tom Phillips reports for the Guardian:

Gui, 53, is understood to have been travelling to Beijing on Saturday to be examined at the Swedish embassy because of concerns that he might have a rare neurological disease. As the publisher’s train stopped at a station not far from the Chinese capital, his daughter said, about 10 plainclothes agents boarded and escorted him away. “I haven’t heard anything [about where he is now],” she added.

John Kamm, an American human rights campaigner who has been working with the bookseller’s family, told the New York Times: “Gui Minhai is exhibiting symptoms of a serious neurological condition, symptoms that did not exist before he was taken into custody in October 2015.”

Referring to the death in Chinese custody last year of the Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo, Kamm added: “I pray we will not witness the death in prison of another person accused of political crimes.”

Angela Gui told the Guardian: “I would like my father to be immediately released so he can return to Sweden and receive the medical care he urgently needs.” [Source]

The denial of adequate medical treatment for political prisoners, which in some cases has led to their deaths, has been a cause of concern for human rights advocates in recent years.

Gui, a co-owner of Mighty Current Media and Causeway Bay Bookstore, which specializes in politically salacious books about CCP leaders, was originally detained in 2015 while on vacation in Thailand. His whereabouts, and those of four of his colleagues, were not publicly known until he appeared on official Chinese state television saying he had turned himself in for a decades old hit-and-run, which many of his family members and supporters believe was coerced. Gui was released in October 2017, but was subsequently kept under close surveillance, though he was reportedly able to communicate with his daughter and friends via Skype in recent months from an apartment in Ningbo, his hometown. Some friends believe that Gui may have also been planning to renew his Swedish passport in Beijing so that he could travel abroad. From Phila Siu and Catherine Wong at the South China Morning Post:

Bei Ling, Gui’s long-time friend, told the Post separately that Gui had been allowed to contact his friends in mainland China regularly.

“He has told his friends that he has applied for a new Swedish passport at Sweden’s consulate in Shanghai,” Bei said. “While [Gui] did not tell his friends clearly if the Chinese authorities have allowed him to get the passport and leave China, his friends are under the impression that the authorities finally do not object to his leaving.”

Dissident poet Bei, co-founder of the Independent Chinese PEN Centre, said he had not spoken to Gui personally but to people who had talked to his old friend.

Bei believed that Gui, who was born in China, was visiting the Swedish embassy to complete his application for a new passport. He suspected the bookseller was taken away because authorities had not been clearly informed of his Beijing visit. [Source]

In January, Gui was shortlisted for the 2018 Prix Voltaire, which rewards “exemplary courage in upholding the freedom to publish and in enabling others to exercise their right to freedom of expression.”


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