A well-known Chinese dissident writer who left China for the US this month said he is seeking asylum there because of his political views and association with Chinese Nobel Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo.
Yu Jie says he was detained and tortured by the Chinese government shortly before the poet and writer was awarded the 2010 prize.
He described what happened at a news conference in Washington DC on Wednesday.
“Two plain-clothes officers charged at me, grabbed the glasses from my face, and covered my head with a black hood, and then forced me into a car,” he told reporters
“After more than one hour, we arrived at some secret location, I was wearing the hood the whole time, so I could not see where I was taken to,” he added.
Yu says he was detained several times in the last year and beaten so badly that he passed out.
He also claims he was also stopped from meeting friends and denied access to a computer.
Yu says he thinks Chinese authorities will not allow him back because he has accused them of torture.
He also says he intends to write about Liu Xiaobo, who is a friend of his, and about Chinese President Hu Jintao – despite facing jail for doing so.
He says he was warned by Chinese authorities that if he wrote the books he could be jailed for publishing subversive material and tainting the image of China’s Communist Party leaders.
“Ever since Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao took office in 2004, I have been completely banned in China, I cannot publish any work, neither articles nor books. Other people are also barred from mentioning me in their public articles,” he said on Wednesday.
Yu helped found the Independent PEN Centre in China, which fights for freedom of expression, and is a Christian who has angered authorities by his outspoken advocacy of religious freedom.
Like thousands of other Chinese, Yu has signed Charter 08 document, which has been co-authored by Liu Xiaobo.
The document – which is an unusually direct appeal to China’s authorities calling for expanded political freedoms and the end to Communist Party dominance – has imposed a direct challenge on the Communist Party.
More than 300 people, including some of the country’s top intellectuals, signed it before it was made public in December 2008.
On Christmas Day in 2009, Liu Xiaobo was sentenced to 11 years in prison for co-authoring the document.
He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010 for his pro-democracy activism.
Other signatories of the charter have reported being harassed or fired from their jobs.
Yu is also author of “China’s Best Actor: Wen Jiabao”, a critical appraisal of China’s premier that was published in Hong Kong in 2010 despite police threats that he could be put in prison.
“In my opinion, political reform initiated by the Chinese government itself is almost impossible,” he said on Wednesday.
“This can be seen through their treatment of gentle intellectuals like Liu Xiaobo and me. And, they have completely given up the path of peaceful reform,” he added.
China has become increasingly resolute in quashing critical voices, apparently fearful that they could spark protests such as those that unseated autocrats in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya last year.
“We can see that the state budget for stability control has been increasing during the era of Hu Jintao. And also, the size of the state security force has multiplied during this same time,” Yu said.
Chinese dissidents are often put under house arrest or detained by authorities ahead of important political meetings and around sensitive dates such as the anniversary of the 4 June 1989 military crackdown on democracy protesters.
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