China on high alert, detains critics, protesters ahead of war parade

(From Radio Free Asia)

As the ruling Chinese Communist Party gears up for a massive military parade to mark the end of World War II in September, authorities across the country are detaining former army veterans, tightening controls on ethnic minority groups, and rounding up anyone with a complaint against the government.

Thirty heads of state, including Russian president Vladimir Putin and South Korean president Park Geun-hye, will attend China’s celebration on Sept. 3 of its victory over Japan, although Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe won’t be among them, the foreign ministry said.

Guests also include former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Myanmar president Thein Sein, Vietnamese president Truong Tan Sang, and senior North Korean official Choe Ryong-hae.

Beijing is already under tight security as crack People’s Liberation Army (PLA) troops practice with military hardware by night along the city’s tree-lined boulevards, residents said.

A Beijing resident surnamed Li said she had been refused entry to Tiananmen Square at the weekend, amid tight security.

“I tried to go to Tiananmen [on Sunday], to go onto the Square, but I couldn’t get in,” Li said. “They’re not allowing people to go in there right now, although you can go past it in the bus.”

Petitioners targeted

Nationwide, police are targeting anyone with a potential grievance against the government, including petitioners, former PLA soldiers protesting a lack of pension, and ethnic minority groups.

Sichuan-based rights activist Huang Qi, who founded the Tianwang rights website, said local governments have been issued with a set of guidelines aimed at ensuring that petitioners don’t even make it as far as Beijing in the next few days.

“Local governments have been taking outrageous measures, including the use of judicial action, to stop people getting to Beijing,” Huang told RFA. “In the process they have been using criminal detention and other methods as a way of persecuting the general public.”

“This is actually a disgrace for this military parade being held in mainland China … [which is] a disaster for petitioners.”

He said police and volunteer security guards are detaining petitioners on the streets and forcing them back to their hometowns.

Beijing-based petitioner Zhang Shufeng said she is currently in need of medical attention after being detained and beaten by police, and held under house arrest ahead of the military parade.

“What right to they have to curb my freedom of movement?” Zhang said. “My back hurts [and] they won’t pay the medical bills.” Read more

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