Nine ‘Independent Candidates’ Arrested in Beijing
Through arrests and a concerted media blackout, Chinese authorities are
attempting to stop citizens from participating in local legislatures across China.
In the latest
incident, 9 of Beijing’s 13 citizen candidates were arrested in the home of one activist on Sept. 16. Two
journalists from a British newspaper caught in the drag net.
“independent candidates,” the individuals will run for seats in local versions
of the National People’s Congress, China’s faux-legislature, across the country.
The elections will take place before the year’s end.
Although being an
“independent candidate” is ostensibly legal in China, it’s difficult to pull
off: historically the positions have been filled by Communist Party
After candidates declare their intention to run, each needs
to enlist 10 people to jointly nominate the person.
But those who have
gotten that far usually begin getting harassed and intimidated, to discourage
them from running.
Candidates so far have had to use Sina Weibo (a
restricted Chinese version of Twitter) to make public their intention to run for
election because the media have been forbidden to report on them.
These independent candidates are
usually activists who have fought for the protection of their legal rights, and
they hope to use such experiences to help
other vulnerable groups.
The latest arrest included Ye Jingchun, Yang
Lingyun, Zhang Shangen, and Zheng Wei. The group had gathered in Zheng Wei’s
home in Jingshan, Dongcheng District, on Sept. 16. Othersarrested at the same
time included a candidate sponsor, He Depu, and two reporters from Britain’s
When The Epoch Times called the Jingshan Police Station to ask about the arrests, an officer said that
the station wasn’t taking calls from the media and hung up.
from Haidian district, Han Ying, told The Epoch Times that some of the arrested
candidates were later moved, but none released.
She believes that,
despite the harassment, the candidates won’t be deterred. “We have just started
our planning, yet the authorities are already using these methods to pressure us
to stop. It is unbelievable. Thepolice are the ones violating the constitution.
They simply do not want people in the election; we are now questioning whether
the current representatives were elected by the citizens,” she said.
Zhan Jiang, a candidate from Haidian district in
Beijing, is braced for the battle: “We’ll
still participate… The pressure in Guangdong Province is also very heavy. We
expect even more attention will put on the election in Beijing.”firstname.lastname@example.org