Chinese authorities have detained yet another human rights activist. Huang Qi, a leading Internet journalist, and two companions were forced into a car in Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan. The police have reportedly accused Mr. Huang of illegal possession of state secrets. Mr. Huang had visited the earthquake-devastated area several times in recent weeks, bringing aid to quake victims and publishing news about the situation on his website. Some non-governmental organizations speculate he may have been arrested for posting an article about an academic who had been arrested for criticizing the government's response to the earthquake.
Mr. Huang completed a five-year jail term in 2005 for alleged subversion. He had allowed articles about China's 1989 pro-democracy protests to appear on his website, 64Tianwang. Since his release, he has resumed his work of publishing rights protection information on his new website: Tianwang Human Rights Center.
Many international human rights groups are calling for Mr. Huang's release. One of these is Reporters Without Borders, which awarded Mr. Huang its Cyber-Freedom Prize in 2004. In a press release, Reporters Without Borders said, "The abduction of Huang and his two companions one month to the day after the Sichuan earthquake shows that the crackdown on press freedom activists continues."
The non-governmental organization Human Rights In China said it urges the Chengdu authorities to immediately release Huang Qi without conditions and cease its unlawful harassment of human rights defenders. It is up to the Chinese government to demonstrate a serious commitment to build a society based on the rule of law, the organization said.
The Olympic games in Beijing provide China with an opportunity to demonstrate its commitment to greater openness and tolerance. China should take this opportunity to take positive steps to address international and domestic concerns about its record on human rights including by releasing individuals such as Huang Qi. The United States is clear in its support for human rights in China. As U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor David Kramer said when he was in Beijing for the recent U.S.-China Human Rights Dialogue, “providing outlets for different views and even disagreements gives citizens the opportunity to have their voices heard and to feel that they have a stake in their country’s future.”