Police Said to Have Assaulted Rights Lawyer in China

Copyright The New York Times
February 26, 2008
SHANGHAI — One of China’s best-known human rights lawyers has been repeatedly beaten by police officers outside his home here in recent days, according to his wife and associates.
The lawyer, Zheng Enchong, who has lived under house arrest for several months, has been seriously injured by plainclothes police officers who, in one attack, knocked him down, then repeatedly hoisted his body parallel to the ground and dropped him on the concrete, people who have visited him said. He has been seen walking with a limp.
In a telephone interview, Mr. Zheng’s wife, Jiang Meili, described another beating, which she said took place as her husband tried to leave his house for church. “A guy stopped him and pushed him to the ground,” Ms. Jiang said. “One man held him by the neck, while another kneed him in the stomach. Then five or six men carried him back upstairs, beating him in the elevator, too.”
Shanghai police officials declined to comment.
Ms. Jiang said the beatings represented a sharp escalation of a recent campaign by the Shanghai authorities to silence Mr. Zheng. Associates who have spoken with him say the beatings started after he began advising residents who had organized a campaign against a high-tech railroad that would cut through middle-class areas of the city.
Others said Mr. Zheng had also recently spoken of details of what he called evidence of high-level corruption in Shanghai involving real estate speculation and influence peddling. “They’ve been very annoyed by this,” Mr. Zheng’s wife said.
The government is struggling with competing priorities as it works to put on its best face for the world as the host of the Olympic Games. It appears eager to eliminate dissent but would like to avoid being tagged as a gross violator of human rights.
Mr. Zheng’s corruption allegations, according to other human rights lawyers, have focused on Huang Ju, a deputy prime minister who died last year, as well as sons of former President Jiang Zemin. Mr. Jiang, who was once Communist Party secretary for the city, developed Shanghai into a personal power base.
For more than a year, Shanghai has been the scene of an embarrassing municipal corruption scandal. Its highest-ranked figure to fall is Chen Liangyu, a Communist Party secretary who has been in detention since September 2006.

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