A Swedish human rights worker by the name of Peter Dahlin was reportedly detained at the Beijing airport on January 4th, on suspicion of “endangering state security.” A member of the Chinese Urgent Action Working Group, Dahlin is believed to have fallen victim to the government crackdown on NGOs.
China’s Foreign Ministry, predictably, denied awareness of the case. Meanwhile, Sweden’s embassy is attempting to “investigate” the matter.
Comprised of human rights defenders active on the mainland, the Chinese Urgent Action Working Group –of which Dahlin is a significant member — is designed to protect activists facing persecution.
“China Action is dedicated to promoting human rights within the existing legal framework of the People’s Republic of China and has only ever advocated non-violent, informed reliance on Chinese law,” the group said in its statement.
“In spite of this, Peter has been arbitrarily detained on spurious accusations.”
The group adds that Dahlin suffers from Addison’s Disease and requires medication. His Chinese girlfriend is also missing.
China recently drafted a new law calling for tighter rein on NGOs, encompassing police supervision and “partnership” with government departments. Under the legislation NGOs are also obligated to submit “work plans” to the government.
In light of the Party’s no-tolerance policy regarding people prone to “picking quarrels and provoking trouble,” this latest incident appears to bode ill for organizations not aligned with the government — and for China’s human rights defenders in general.
By Pinky Latt