Yang Maodong, source: RFAYang Maodong (also known as Guo Feixiong on the web), a legal adviser with the Beijing-based Shengzhi Law Office, has been detained by police since September 14, 2006. He is scheduled to appear in court in less than two weeks. He was well known for providing legal assistance to villagers in Taishi, Guangdong province in the removal of the allegedly corrupt village leader from office in 2005. Yang advised the villagers to utilize passive strategies such as hunger strike to bring international media attention to their cause.

According to the chronology of events posted on EastSouthWestNorth, the Taishi incident began with a petition signed by over 400 villagers in late July 2005 to recall the village committee director due to the lack of transparency in the financial and land dealings among the village committee. When the village accountant attempted to enter the village committee office to alter the budget record books in the middle of the night in early August, the villagers took over the office in order to protect the books. In mid-August, a villager was arrested by plain-clothed police riding in a delivery van. When the villagers failed to stop the arrest, they stopped three other similar looking vans. Police cars and riot police moved in to rescue the trapped vans and arrested several people in the process. The villagers did not fight back during the confrontation but many were injured by police. When Panyu District government rejected the recall in late August claiming the petition submitted was a copy instead of originals, the villagers began a sit-in and hunger strike. In early September, the villagers agreed to submit the originals and the government officials required a verification of the signatures. Although an adequate number of signatures were verified for the recall, police vehicles and almost 1,000 riot police were called in to remove a safe and financial documents from the village committee office. A fire engine directed high-pressured water at the elderly women who were guarding the office. Several people were injured and many of them were arrested.

By mid-September 2005, the incident was officially classified as an “illegal assembly” but the government officials would allow an election of a recall committee. The villagers successfully nominated and elected seven people of their choice for the committee, however, the newly elected members received threats and later resigned. The recall petition became invalid by early October because a high number of the people who signed it withdrew their signatures. Apparently, government officials asked the villagers to withdraw in exchange for the release of those arrested. Foreign journalists who visited the area were attacked. Internet websites were either shut down or instructed to remove any posting about Taishi village.

The authorities identified Yang Maodong as one of the masterminds of the Taishi incident. He has been arrested and detained several times during and after the incident. He claimed he was tortured during the latest detention between September to December 2006. In March 2007, police beat him with electric prods that were not turned on. Afterwards, Yang agreed to confess to anything he was asked.

Amnesty International issued Urgent Actions for Yang last year and the latest one concerns the reported torture and the fear of an unfair trial.

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