CHINA: College student missing after posting essays online
New York, December 10, 2002—The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is concerned for the safety of Internet essayist Liu Di, who has been missing since November 7. Public security officials have notified Liu's family that she is being investigated, but her current whereabouts are unknown.
Liu, 22, is a fourth-year student in the psychology department at Beijing Teacher's University. Using the pseudonym "Stainless Steel Mouse" (Buxiugang Laoshu), she has written several online essays criticizing the Chinese government.
"Liu Di has done nothing more than use the Internet to express her views," said CPJ executive director Ann Cooper. "We call on Chinese authorities to conduct a thorough and swift investigation into her whereabouts. If she is being detained, CPJ calls for her immediate release."
On November 7, Liu went missing. The following day, security officials came to her house, which she shares with her 80-year-old grandmother, and confiscated Liu's computer, several books, and other personal belongings. Officials told her family that Liu was being investigated for "participating in an illegal organization." Authorities have not offered her family any further explanation as to her whereabouts.
According to China's Criminal Procedure Law, a suspect's family must be notified of the suspect's whereabouts and reasons for arrest within 24 hours of his or her detention.
In one essay, Liu wrote that "my ideals are the ideals of an open society... In my view, freedom does not just include external freedom, but freedom within our hearts and minds." In another essay, according to Agence France-Presse, Liu called on Chinese citizens to stop reading official news and to read only "reactionary" materials.
In her online writings, Liu Di expressed fears of being arrested and said that authorities had called her in for questioning several times prior to her disappearance, according to online accounts written by her friends and acquaintances.
Liu's disappearance came one day before the opening of the 16th Communist Party Congress. During the run-up to the Congress, Chinese authorities escalated a crackdown on free expression and dissent by arresting government critics, closing Web sites, and tightening already stringent control over the official media.
Out of the 36 journalists imprisoned in China, 14 are currently serving time for publishing or distributing information online, according to CPJ's records.
Cyber-dissident held in secret for past month in Beijing
Reporters Without Borders (Reporters Sans Fronti鑢es) said today it was concerned about the physical treatment of a student, Liu Di, who has been held secretly in Beijing for more than a month for posting on an Internet website articles criticising the grip of the Communist Party on Chinese society. She is already in poor health and is one of at least 32 cyber-dissidents being held in China, 16 of whom have been given prison sentences.
The organisation called on the country箂 new president, Hu Jintao, to end her detention in secret, which contravenes the article 19 of International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights signed by China.
Liu, a 22-year-old psychology student, was arrested on the Beijing University campus on 7 November, on the eve of the 16th Communist Party congress. Her family only learned she had been picked up when police arrived at their apartment and searched through her possessions, taking away her books, notes and computer. Her parents took a change of clothes to the police station but were told they could not see her. There has been no news of her since then.
The dissident organisation China Labor Watch, which found out she had been arrested, said the authorities had not confirmed she was being held but that police told one of her teachers she had been arrested because of her links with an "illegal organisation." However her father said she had probably been detained because of her postings on the Internet.
Under the pseudonym of The Stainless Steel Mouse, she had urged Internet users to "ignore government propaganda" and "live in freedom." She also criticised the arrest of Huang Qi, the founder of a web site who has been in prison since 3 June 2000 for having posted online articles the authorities considered "subversive".