China rights lawyer Li missing, wife pleas for information

International Business Times, 2 May 2011

One of China’s most prominent human rights lawyers, Li Fangping, remains missing three days after he called his wife to say he was being led away by state security police, apparently the latest target of a crackdown on dissent.

Li disappeared Friday, the same day that Chinese authorities released his friend and fellow rights lawyer, Teng Biao, whose secretive detention for over two months was raised in Beijing last week by Michael Posner, the United States’ top diplomat on human rights.

Li, a slightly built and gently spoken Beijing lawyer who has taken on many politically contentious cases, appears to be another target of the Chinese Communist Party’s campaign to stifle dissent, which has led to the arrest, detention or informal jailing of dozens of dissidents, human rights advocates and grassroots agitators.

“There’s been no news about him since Friday. The police have not given me any information,” Li’s wife told Reuters by telephone. She asked only that her surname, Zheng, be cited, fearing that giving her full name would bring more pressure.

Zheng said Li had first called her to say he was heading home Friday afternoon, but then called again.

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China Has ‘Highly Repressive’ Press: Poll

Radio Free Asia, 3 May 2011

Asia suffers a modest decline in an annual media freedom survey.

The level of press freedom in the Asia-Pacific region has fallen, with conditions in China “highly repressive” and with extensive state and Communist party controls also evident in Laos and Vietnam, U.S. human rights group Freedom House said in an annual survey Monday.

The region is also home to two of the survey’s poorest performers, Burma and North Korea, it said, citing a  modest decline in the average score for the Asia-Pacific in the group’s latest annual media freedom index assessing the degree of print, broadcast, and Internet freedom.

Only five percent of the region’s population had access to free media, while 46 percent live in “partly free” and 49 percent in “not free” media environments.

”Conditions in the world’s largest poor performer, China, remained highly repressive in 2010,” Freedom House said in its report, Freedom in the World 2011, released in conjunction with UNESCO’s World Press Freedom Day.

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Uyghur Leader Barred from Travel

Radio Free Asia, 1 May 2011

Airport officials in Kazakhstan block an Uyghur exile leader from attending a political conference in the U.S.

Authorities in Kazakhstan blocked Uyghur exile leader Kahriman Ghojamberdi from traveling to Washington D.C. for a meeting of the World Uyghur Congress, underscoring Chinese pressure on the central Asian state.

Ghojamberdi, 60, vice president of the World Uyghur Congress, was stopped by customs officials at the Almaty airport on Sunday and told that his passport was not valid for travel.

“I had gone through all the procedures at the airport, and just at the last step, when I handed my passport to the customs officer, he returned the passport to me after approximately five minutes and said ‘You cannot not travel with this passport, because two pages are ripped out,’” Ghojamberdi said in an interview.

But no pages had been missing from his passport earlier, he explained.

“I have traveled with this passport twice to Washington and twice to Europe with no problems,” he added.

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