Blogger harassed after protesting closure of magazine

NOVEMBER 29, 2007
Posted December 19, 2007

Zhai Minglei, Minjian

According to his blog, Yibao,and international media commentators and bloggers, five officials from the local cultural administration searched Zhai’s Shanghai residence. Zhai is a former reporter with Southern Weekend and one of the founders of the banned grassroots activism magazine Minjian. The officials, who entered without a warrant, confiscated Zhai’s computer hard drive and back issues of the magazine, and questioned him at length the following day about the publication, according to Zhai’s blog post of November 30.

Zhai believes he was harassed in reprisal for an open letter he circulated on November 12 protesting the closure of Minjian as an “illegal” publication and that he discussed in his blog entry of November 29.

Zhai’s letter outlined a campaign against Minjian as part of a Chinese government crackdown on “illegal” publishing,according to David Bandurski of the Hong Kong-based China Media Project, who translated extracts of the letter on the organization’s Web site. Copies of the summer issue were confiscated before their distribution on July 6, the letter said, just two days after the office of a social research publication, China Development Brief, was raided by police in Beijing. Minjian was then banned in print and online and fined 30 000 yuan(US$4000), Zhai’s letter said. 

Minjian, an internal nonprofit publication of the Sun Yatsen University Center for Citizens and Development, did not apply for an internal publishing permit because the process is prohibitively complicated and often ignored, Zhai wrote in his letter.