Crackdown

Mystery surrounds whereabouts of “freed” Chinese human rights activist

Human rights activist, 24-year-old Zhao Wei cannot be found by her husband.

Mystery surrounds the fate of a young human rights activist, who apparently gave an interview to a prominent Hong Kong newspaper after being “freed,” but is nowhere to be found, according to her husband. Legal assistant Zhao Wei, 24, was taken into secret detention in July 2015, at the start of a government offensive against human rights lawyers.

In early July, police said Zhao had been released on bail after “confessing” to unnamed offenses. This week, she gave an interview to the South China Morning Post in which she confirmed she “regrets” her civil rights activism — assertions made earlier on her social media account — and was living with her parents at their Henan Province home. She “truly wanted to repent,” she told the Post.

However, when her husband You Minglei visited the home this week, he found it deserted. “The doors and windows were all closed,” he told The Guardian. “I knocked for quite some time but there was nobody there.”

A neighbor confirmed the family had not been home for “a while.”

You told The Guardian he had doubts about both Zhao’s interview and the contrite online posts, that renounced her earlier position. “I think somebody asked her to do this and to say those things. Otherwise it doesn’t make sense,” he added. “I still believe the government is controlling everything behind the scenes.”

William Nee, a Hong Kong-based activist for Amnesty International, said authorities appeared to be “using many of the same abusive tactics that they have used in other cases in order to silence [critics] such as releasing people into fake freedom … [and] harassing and controlling family members.”

Zhao worked for prominent human rights lawyer Li Heping, who remains in custody.

Read the full story at The Guardian.

Related:

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Wife of missing Chinese human rights lawyer speaks out

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