Chinese democracy activists are demanding the release of Lai Rifu, a dissident living in Guangzhou who was snatched off the street on Monday in a bizarre arrest and incarcerated for “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” by posting a video that used the unofficial anthem of the Hong Kong protest movement, “Glory to Hong Kong.”
RTHK News on Wednesday described the strange circumstances of Lai’s arrest and the angry response from the Chinese dissident community, saying:
In a Facebook post, a group called ‘Southern Idiot’ said Lai was taken away by a group of about 20 unidentified people when he was walking towards home on Monday with his seven-year-old son. It said his family was contacted by the authorities the next day and told he was in detention for “picking quarrels and provoking trouble.”
On Wednesday, around 20 people including members of the League of Social Democrats, marched to Beijing’s liaison office in Hong Kong, chanting slogans in support of Lai.
Civil Party lawmaker Kwok ka-ki, who took part in the rally, said Lai’s arrest was unreasonable.
“He didn’t say anything to overthrow the communist regime. He just said he would like to support Hong Kong,” said Kwok. “And perhaps he would like to see in future that perhaps mainland China can have the same kind of movement to fight for freedom and democracy.”
Lai’s offense was evidently publishing a video that showed scenes from Guangzhou but was scored with the Hong Kong protest anthem.
Lai, a veteran activist, was recently confronted by police who broke into his house, forced him to delete Twitter messages supportive of the Hong Kong protesters, and made him sign a promise that he would stop talking about Hong Kong online. In 2015, he was arrested along with three other dissidents for creating T-shirts that called for the release of an imprisoned human rights lawyer. Before that, he was associated with the 2014 Umbrella Movement, an earlier but less successful round of pro-democracy protests.
Despite the Chinese Communist Party’s relentless efforts to suppress news of the Hong Kong protests and portray all mainland Chinese as united in their criticism of the “rioters,” quite a few mainlanders have been able to evade China’s “Great Firewall” to access news from Hong Kong and express support for the protesters.