- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 24, 2009

BEIJING (AP) - Chinese authorities have arrested two activists for organizing a sit-in at a closed factory, and detained four others after they publicized recent protests over court rulings and a home eviction, a human rights group said Tuesday.

The government has been worried that dissent will grow in China as the slumping global economy idles tens of millions of rural migrants who power China’s factories.

Chinese Human Rights Defenders, a Hong Kong-based activist network, accused authorities of making a “coordinated effort” in the past month to silence dissent.

The group said two workers’ rights advocates in Chongqing, who were detained in February for organizing the sit-in outside a closed silk factory, were formally arrested for “assembling a crowd to disrupt social order.”

The report also said police in Chengdu, the capital of neighboring Sichuan province, detained four human rights activists and summoned 10 others with the Tianwang Human Rights Center and Rights Defense in Action.

In one protest the activists publicized, a homeowner resisting eviction and demolition of his house injured six policemen with kerosene and firecrackers on Feb. 20. In the other, about 20 people chained themselves together outside the Chengdu Intermediate People’s Court on Feb. 23-24 to protest unfair rulings.

Spokesmen for Chongqing and Chengdu’s public security bureaus said they had not heard of the cases against the activists.

Sichuan province has been especially sensitive in recent months. It borders Tibet and has seen violent protests in its Tibetan communities. It also was shaken last year by a devastating earthquake, and unhappiness lingers over the dozens of schools that collapsed, killing thousands of children.

With uncomfortable sensitive anniversaries this year, including that of the failed Tibetan uprising that sent the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan spiritual leader, into exile 50 years ago, “authorities seem extremely concerned with stability in Sichuan,” the group said.

Chinese Human Rights Defenders said it learned that the Communist Party’s Central Commission for Discipline Inspection has dispatched a team to Chengdu to criticize the local government and municipal party committee’s handling of the incidents.

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