Dissident's Wife Detained on Trip to Parliament

Authorities in the Chinese capital have detained the wife of a prominent Hangzhou-based pro-democracy activist after she traveled to Beijing to petition the country's parliament, which is currently in its annual session.

Wang Xue'e, wife of author and democracy activist Lu Gengsong, was detained by officials from the couple's hometown.

"She called me this morning to say ... she had been detained in Beijing by neighborhood committee officials and interceptors," Lu told RFA's Mandarin Service.

Wang had traveled there with fellow Hangzhou petitioners to complain to China's National People's Congress (NPC) about the violation of their human rights by local government officials, the Weiquanwang rights website reported.

"There were more than a dozen people there to detain my wife, who was on her own, and they dragged her away by force," Lu said.

The group was met by Hangzhou officials as soon as they got off the train at Beijing's southern railway station, but only Wang was taken away.

Lu said she had been accompanied to Beijing by around 10 victims of forced eviction from Hangzhou's Jianghan district.

"The district state security police were there, as well as the representative office people, and officers from the police station and the neighborhood committee," he said.

"The Jianghan petitioners tried to hang onto her but they couldn't; they just dragged her away."

Powerless to help

Lu said his wife had been laid of from her former job at a state-owned enterprise, but had never received the payments she was entitled to from her now-bankrupt employers.

He said Wang's detention had resulted in a visit from police to the couple's home. "They wanted me to go and bring her back, but I said that wasn't my duty, because they had done something illegal."

"They stayed and argued with me for more than an hour, then they gave up. But there are still four or five police here right in front of me, watching me."

"They even follow me when I go to the toilet," Lu said.

Liang Liwan, one of the Hangzhou petitioners who traveled with Wang, said they had been powerless to help her.

"We didn't run away, and we tried to talk sense to the district officials, asking them what they wanted. They even said they'd go with us to make the complaint, [and] they did."

Authorities in Hangzhou sentenced Lu to four years’ imprisonment for “incitement to subvert state power” in February 2008, in a trial that Wang said took about 15 minutes.

Chinese police have launched a nationwide security clampdown on anyone considered "sensitive," including rights activists, lawyers and dissidents, during this year's annual meeting of the NPC.

Premier Wen Jiabao and President Hu Jintao, who have ruled China for the past 10 years, will step down formally at this year's NPC annual session, which began in Beijing on Tuesday.

Communist Party general secretary Xi Jinping will be sworn in as president, along with premier-in-waiting Li Keqiang.

Reported by Qiao Long for RFA's Mandarin Service, and by Lin Jing for the Cantonese Service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.