Tiananmen Square survivor takes on police over Chinese state visit arrest
- Credit: Demotix/Press Association Images
A human rights protester and Tiananmen Square survivor this week launched an official complaint against the police over his arrest during the Chinese state visit.
Dr Shao Jiang, of King’s Cross, was detained on October 21 for breaching a secure area outside Mansion House, where president Xi Jinping was attending a business summit.
He was holding A4 placards calling for human rights in his home country, where he was part of the 1989 student demonstrations in Tiananmen Square, Beijing. Thousands were killed or wounded after a military crackdown.
But the researcher, 47, who fled China in 1997, was later re-arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to commit threatening behaviour. His house was searched and computers taken by police. He was released after nearly 24 hours in custody and all charges were subsequently dropped.
Dr Jiang, who has taken the case to the Independent Police Complaints Commission, said: “What I have experienced in the UK is getting more and more similar to what I experienced in China: restrictions on the right to protest, freedom of expression and so on.
“What happened will not hold me back from protesting again. But I worry that what I experienced will set a precedent for future treatment of protests.”
He was backed by Islington South and Finsbury MP Emily Thornberry, who said: “It’s very worrying. Was this about a threat? Or was it about embarrassing the Chinese?
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“In this country, you are entitled to express yourself, unless it’s racist or inciting violence. Dr Jiang’s was neither. If we have guests over, we need to understand that.”
Mrs Thornberry is to meet with police minister Mike Penning, and added: “We need to get to the bottom of this. It’s not acceptable.”
Dr Jiang’s artist wife Johanna Zhang, 42, visited him in the police station on the day of his arrest. She returned home at 1.30am the next day to find a search order: “All computers were gone: desktop, laptop, iPad and USB stick. Our home in China was raided in 1995 and it brought back those memories.”
Lawrence Barker, of Bindmans Solicitors, representing Dr Jiang, said: “It is clear that there must be a full and independent investigation into these events.
“The way in which lawful protest appears to have been suppressed by police during the visit of the Chinese president was already of very serious concern.”
A Met spokesman said Dr Jiang was arrested to prevent breach of the peace, and was further arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to cause threatening behaviour.