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Chinese Dissidents Petition Gov’t

July 17, 1998

BEIJING (AP) _ One hundred Chinese dissidents have asked the government to release five democracy campaigners detained for organizing an illegal opposition political party, a rights group said.

Addressed to President Jiang Zemin and Premier Zhu Rongji, the petition said the detentions contradicted government pledges to improve human rights and sign the United Nations Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

``We call on the central government to immediately redress these wrongful violations of human rights,″ said the petition, released Thursday by the Hong Kong-based Information Center of Human Rights and Democratic Movement in China.

Police rounded up nine organizers of the China Democracy Party on July 10, and on Wednesday seized a tenth member who had been on the run. He and four others remain in custody, but five of those detained have since been released.

The crackdown marks the most concerted police action against a dissident group in several years.

Three of those under arrest announced the formation of the China Democracy Party on June 25, the day President Clinton began his nine-day China visit. But authorities, intolerant of challenges to the ruling Communist Party’s monopoly on power, refused to register the party, as required by law.

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