Thursday, April 16, 2009

Tiananmen Square Student Leader Captured

Tiananmen Square Student Leader Captured
CSN demands the immediate release of Zhou Yongjun

April 16, 2009 (CSN) -- From the China Support Network, I can tell my readers of a student leader at the Tiananmen Square uprising of 1989. His name is Majer Zhou (pronounce Major Joe) -- or if you are Chinese, his name is Zhou Yongjun (pronounce Joe Young Gin). He has been captured on a return visit to China, and is now the latest case of a Chinese political prisoner for whom we must demand freedom.

He has been living in the United States and has been an enthusiastic ally of the China Support Network. He spent some time being the North American Director of the Free China Movement. And, he has been a leading proponent of Chinese democracy from the days of Tiananmen Square to the present.

When university students rose up in Tiananmen Square, he led the first student march into the square -- that got the action started in the first place. Then he was the first leader elected by students in the Association of Student Unions of Beijing Universities -- the ad hoc group that was formed spontaneously to represent the student takeover of Tianamen Square.

Elected there, he was a spokesman of the students; and, he appeared in a famous scene during the state funeral of ousted (reform minded) Chinese leader Hu Yaobang. The scene is of students kneeling on the steps of the Great Hall of the People, as if waiting for the emperor to emerge and receive their scroll. Zhou was one of three students kneeling with a petition to Chinese Premier Li Peng.

One can read about Zhou in books about Tiananmen Square's 'June 4' movement. Now, on the eve of the 20th anniversary of June 4, 1989, we regret to report that such a blue chip student leader has again been captured in China.

This is his third stint as a political prisoner in China. He was jailed immediately after Tiananmen's 1989 atrocities, then released in 1991. He made his way to the United States to live the life of enforced exile that awaits many Chinese dissidents. In 1998, he attempted a return to China. That is when he was picked up by the authorities and sentenced to three years in a labor camp. In 2001, he was released nine months early, as a government gesture to win favor with the International Olympic Committee.

For the past half year, this has been the "rumored disappearance" of Majer Zhou. The China Support Network (CSN) is now confirming the story ahead of the newswires and the Chinese government. Mr. Zhou is being held at a prison in Shenzhen, as the CSN is learning from multiple sources.

In English, the only earlier report was on Dec. 19, 2008 when the China Aid Association (CAA) reported that Zhou was arrested on Sept. 30, and that authorities first charged him with "espionage," then changed the charge to "financial fraud." If true, the government undermined its credibility by changing its story. With his renown from Tiananmen Square, Zhou is certainly a political prisoner.

The China Support Network calls upon the government of China to immediately release 'Majer' Zhou Yongjun. Absent that, he is a natural high profile case, and we will surely press for his release during the upcoming 20th anniversary of the June 4 massacre. June 4 is a high profile time of the year in the cause of Chinese democracy. Inevitably, his case will soon come to world attention.

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