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IFJ Questions House Arrest for ‘Freed’ Blogger in China

August 12, 2011

IFJ Questions House Arrest for ‘Freed’ Blogger in China

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is relieved to learn that blogger Ran Yunfei has been freed from detention in China, but is concerned that Ran is now held under house arrest.

Ran, 45, the editor of Sichuan Literature magazine, was released on August 9, after he was detained on February 24 by Sichuan security officers who alleged he might be involved in “inciting subversion of state authority”.

He has been ordered to remain under house arrest until February 9, 2012, without explanation.

Ran was initially detained four days after a pro-democracy protest movement known as the “Chinese jasmine revolution”, in reference to mass protests in the Middle East and North Africa, began in China on February 20.

Ran’s wife Wang Wei received a formal notice on March 28 that Ran had been charged. While an Intermediate People’s Court judge rejected the case on June 27 due to insufficient evidence, Ran continued to be held in custody until August 9.

“The IFJ is pleased to know that Ran has been released by Sichuan authorities, but is disturbed that he remains confined to house arrest without explanation,” IFJ Asia-Pacific said.

“Government officials have a duty under China’s Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to explain clearly to anyone why they are being punished.”

The IFJ urges Public Security Minister Meng Jianzhu to investigate Ran’s case to assess if there has been an abuse of power and to require that Sichuan authorities explain why Ran remains under house arrest.

According to a blogger friend, Ran is not permitted to agree to be interviewed by the media.

“He is healthy but has been warned by police not to speak with anyone,” a friend of Ran said.

“We’ve heard that the government of Sichuan would like to start a ‘dialogue’, but we don’t exactly know what does that means.”

Following the May 2008 earthquake in Wenchuan, Sichuan Province, commentators including Ran, Ten Zuoren, Wang Qi and Ai Weiwei questioned why school buildings had so easily collapsed and demanded authorities investigate and make their findings public.

On November 23, 2009, Wang Qi was sentenced for three years’ detention for “illegal possession of a state secret” after he had tried to deliver donations to quake victims.

On February 9, 2010, Ten Zuoren was sentenced to five years’ jail and loss of political rights for three years on an accusation of “inciting subversion of state power”.

Ai Weiwei was assaulted by local security officers when he tried to attend Ten’s hearing, and subsequently detained by security officers in Beijing on allegations of tax evasion.

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 131 countries

Find the IFJ on Twitter: @ifjasiapacific

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