Human rights groups have rallied around the cause of a Chinese woman who disappeared after she sprayed ink on a photograph of president Xi Jinping.
Dong Yaoqiong, 29, was last seen during a live-stream she posted on social media in which she defaced a public poster of the country’s leader.
In the two-minute video, which has been shared widely since her disappearance, Ms Dong tells the camera: “Behind me is a portrait of Xi Jinping. I want to say publicly that I oppose the tyranny of Xi Jinping’s dictatorship and the brain-control oppression imposed by the Chinese Communist Party.”
She then splashes black ink over the face of Mr Xi before saying defiantly: “Xi Jinping, I’m right here waiting for you to arrest me.”
According to the AFP news agency the video was taken at a location in Shanghai on 4 July. A final tweet from Ms Dong’s account, sent later that day, showed two uniformed and one plainclothes police officer standing outside what appeared to be her home.
Ms Dong has not been seen since and her Twitter account has been deleted.
Now, international rights groups say Ms Dong’s father and a prominent activist and artist, both of whom were trying to raise awareness online of the 29-year-old’s disappearance, have also been abducted.
The artist, Hua Yong, had previously told SBS News he had been watching online during Ms Dong’s ink-splashing video. “She was definitely going to disappear, that was my first reaction to seeing her post,” he said.
After giving that interview, Mr Hua posted his own video on 13 July in which he and Ms Dong’s father, Dong Jianbiao, are interrupted in a live stream by men knocking at the door.
The video ends in chaos, with the men outside forcibly entering Mr Hua’s home in Yunnan province. “Do you have a search warrant?” Mr Hua can be heard repeating. Having posted prolifically about Ms Dong’s case until last Friday, it was the last video he shared.
Mr Dong, a 61-year-old coal miner from Zhuzhou, Hunan, said in an earlier video he had been unaware of Ms Dong’s situation until police asked to speak to him on Sunday 9 July, questioning him about his daughter’s background and education.
“I said: ‘did something happen to my daughter?’ They said… your daughter [broke the law] by attacking state leaders. That’s what they said: attacking state leaders,” he said, according to the Hong Kong Free Press.
Patrick Poon, China researcher at Amnesty International, said there was no such crime as “attacking state leaders” in China, indeed the country’s constitution grants citizens the right to criticise the government.
He told The Independent: “This is the latest shocking example of how far the Chinese authorities are willing to go to crack down on people who exercise their freedom of expression to criticise the country’s leaders.
“She must be allowed access to a lawyer of her own choice first, and be released immediately unless she’s charged with an internationally recognised crime.”
Sophie Richardson, from New York based Human Rights Watch, expressed concern Ms Dong had not been heard from for more than two weeks, and that her father “has [reportedly] been detained for calling for his daughter’s release”.
“There is no legal basis for such collective punishment tactics,” Ms Richardson said. “The authorities should immediately disclose Dong Yaoqiong and her father’s whereabouts, and release them.”
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