China said Monday that it has dismissed and detained officials in the eastern city of Linyi for abuses committed while enforcing the country's one-child policy. But the government provided no details and said nothing about the arrest this month of an activist who had campaigned against the use of forced abortion and sterilization there.
The cabinet-level ministry responsible for managing population growth in China said in a statement that a preliminary investigation confirmed allegations that "some persons in a few counties and townships of Linyi" violated the law and the rights of local residents "while conducting family planning work.
"Currently, the responsible persons have been removed from their posts," the statement said. "Some of them are being investigated for liabilities and some have been detained."
The statement did not identify the officials or their crimes. Authorities in Linyi declined to answer questions when reached by telephone.
Jiang Tianyong, a lawyer involved in a class-action lawsuit against the Linyi officials, cast doubt on the government's statement and accused local authorities of continuing to hold Chen Guangcheng, the activist leading the lawsuit, under house arrest without due process.
Jiang said the government may have disciplined a few low-level officials but appeared to have refrained from punishing the local party leaders who ordered Chen's arrest and the population-control crackdown.
Chen, 34, had been collecting evidence that Linyi officials were requiring parents with two children to be sterilized and forcing women pregnant with a third child to have abortions. Chen, who is blind, was detained Sept. 6 in Beijing, taken back to Linyi and placed under house arrest. It is unclear if he has been charged with a crime, though police have threatened to prosecute him for "providing intelligence to foreign countries," apparently a reference to interviews he has given to The Washington Post, Time magazine and other foreign media organizations.
Last week, local police also detained two residents who helped Chen organize the lawsuit: his nephew, Chen Hua, 27, and Han Yandong, 35, a neighbor. University officials in Beijing have also threatened to fire Teng Biao, a prominent legal scholar involved in the case.
Local authorities have cut Chen's phone service, but sympathetic villagers helped him escape briefly last Wednesday. In a hurried phone interview, he accused police of roughing up his wife, and he appealed to the central government for help. But he expressed misgivings about the government's probe of his allegations, noting that investigators had not bothered to speak with him.