China puts "heavy" charges against activists ahead of Sunday's Jasmine Rallies: rights group

New Delhi, February 26 – Chinese authorities have charged several activists with serious state security crimes, including “subversion of state power” and “inciting subversion of state power,” days ahead of the “Jasmine Rallies” called for by Chinese campaigners in 23 cities across China on Sunday.

Human Rights in China called the charges “politicized” saying the Chinese government is trying to intimidate people and discourage them from participating in these “Jasmine Rallies”.

Chinese activists charged by authorities ahead of Sunday’s rallies include public intellectual Ran Yunfei, rights activists Chen Wei, and Ding Mao, Hua Chunhui and blogger Liang Haiyi, according to the New York based rights group.
Sharon Hom, Executive Director of Human Rights in China (HRIC) urged the international community to come forward in support of the rallies and speak out against the “draconian crackdown underway in China and to support fundamental rights, including freedom of association and expression.”

They are the actions of a regime running scared. Now is the time for the international community to demonstrate its principled support for the Chinese people as it has recently done for the people of the Middle East at their critical moment,” Hom said.

HRIC also called on the foreign community in China to at least bear witness to the Jasmine Rallies, and help inform the world as citizen reporters on Sunday.

Just last week, scores of activists were detained or warned against taking part in protests after an call was made on for demonstrations in 13 cities with a message titled "The jasmine revolution in China".

The swift crackdown underlined the anxiety of Chinese leadership in the wake of the Egypt uprising and protests across the Middle East.

The message posted said: "You and I are Chinese people who will still have a dream for the future ... we must act responsibly for the future of our descendants."

The Hong Kong-based Information Centre for Human Rights and Democracy estimated that more than 100 activists across the country were taken away by police, prevented from leaving home or were missing.

China's most popular microblog blocked searches for "jasmine" and attempts to include the word in status updates on a social networking site were greeted with a warning to refrain from inappropriate postings.

The political upheaval that began in Tunisia has spread across the Middle East and North Africa, toppling presidents in Tunisia and Egypt and sparking unrest in Libya, Yemen, Bahrain and elsewhere.

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