Chinese Lawyer, Human Rights Activist Vanishes

By Maureen Fan
Washington Post Foreign Service
Saturday, March 8, 2008

BEIJING, March 7 -- A prominent Chinese human rights lawyer has disappeared, according to family members and fellow activists, who fear he may have been seized by police as part of a pre-Olympics crackdown.

Teng Biao, 34, a lecturer at the China University of Political Science and Law, assisted a blind activist who was jailed after exposing abuses in enforcement of China's one-child-only policy. More recently, he urged the government to release Hu Jia, a Beijing AIDS activist charged with subversion, and said the Olympic Games have prompted Chinese officials to trample on human rights.

In bidding to host the Games, China promised to become more open. International politicians, athletes and activists have been stepping up pressure on the International Olympic Committee to force China to honor those pledges.

According to Teng's wife, Wang Ling, the lawyer disappeared about 9 p.m. Thursday shortly after calling her from his cellphone to say he would be home in 20 minutes.

"I was comforting my child in a room with the door closed when I heard someone yell out," Wang said. "I looked downstairs and found our car parked, but he hadn't come upstairs."

She said witnesses reported that a man had come out of the car but that several people had forced him into a black vehicle. The security guard at her compound gate, she said, recounted that a black Jetta without license plates entered at 8:30 p.m. and sped out at 8:45 p.m.

Wang reported the case to police. She said that her husband had not accepted any new cases recently and that he was busy teaching classes. She said he did not seem to have any personal conflicts with others.

"I cannot exclude the possibility that the government did this, but I don't have evidence, so I can't make a judgment," Wang said.

Sandrine Tonge, a spokeswoman for the IOC, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Nicholas Bequelin, China researcher for Human Rights Watch, talked with Teng a few hours before he was reported missing. "He's usually pretty fierce, but he was downcast and under huge stress -- you could see that," Bequelin said.

The IOC's silence after Hu's arrest and now Teng's disappearance sends the wrong signal, he said: "These activists are not calling for a boycott of the Olympics. They just think the world doesn't know enough about human rights in China."

Researcher Zhang Jie contributed to this report.

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