Agence France Presse

Beijing, January 24:

Several dissidents who planned to commemorate the death of deposed Chinese leader Zhao Ziyang have been detained while other activists are under house arrest, they said today.

Zhao, ousted for opposing the military crackdown on the 1989 Tiananmen Square pro-democracy protests, died a week ago in a Beijing hospital aged 85. His funeral has yet to take place with his family and the government in dispute over what his biographical details should say. Beijing fears that people dissatisfied with Communist Party rule could use his death as a rallying point to organise large-scale protests similar to those in 1989, sparked by the death of reformist party leader Hu Yaobang.

Dissident Zhao Xin, who applied to the police for permission to stage a Sunday march to Zhao’s Beijing home from Tsinghua University, was detained Friday, said his friends, who have since lost contact with him. Other co-organisers of the march have also been detained.

Qi Zhiyong, who lost a leg after being shot by a soldier in the bloody Tiananmen crackdown, said he was barred from leaving home a week ago and has been detained in a hostel near his house since Wednesday.

Qi had planned to mourn Zhao at his home and said he was upset he was not able to express his grief.

“They said just you wait here. Everyone can go except for you,” Qi said police told him. Despite his detention, he is allowed to go home every day for injections for his diabetes. AIDS activist and rights campaigner Hu Jia, who turned up at the university in west Beijing for the march Sunday, said he was pushed into a police van and taken to a hostel where he was detained until Monday morning. “I was guarded by eight to 10 police,” he said.

Whilst in detention, he scuffled with police who manhandled him. Police took away his mobile phone and deleted all numbers and messages stored on it, he said. Beijing police claimed they had no knowledge of the detentions. Others rights activists remain under house arrest.

Jiang Qisheng, a dissident activist who served a four-year jail term for an article that prompted people to remember the Tiananmen Square massacre, said he had been under house arrest since last Monday.

A phone call to Ding Zilin, whose son was gunned down during the 1989 protest, was immediately cut off. Her friends said she too had been placed under 24-hour surveillance. Ding, who has been campaigning for an official vindication of the 1989 protests with a group called the Tiananmen Mothers, said last week plainclothes police were outside her home. Internet dissident Liu Di, who was held in prison for a year without charges for posting pro-democracy essays online, said she was at home but it was not safe for her to speak.