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Human rights activist confirmed to be held in Chinese detention centre: family in Canada

Katherine Dong listens to a question from a reporter as she takes part in a news conference for the release of her father Dong Guangping, on Parliament Hill, Thursday, November 17, 2022, in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld Katherine Dong listens to a question from a reporter as she takes part in a news conference for the release of her father Dong Guangping, on Parliament Hill, Thursday, November 17, 2022, in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
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Family and supporters of human rights activist Dong Guangping have been able to confirm that he has been held in a Chinese detention centre since October of last year, according to a press release.

Dong, 64, is an activist known for standing against Chinese censorship. He has publicly condemned the state’s efforts to silence information about the massacre of protesting students in Tiananmen Square in 1989, his family has told CTV News previously.

For months, his relatives have been seeking information about his whereabouts, fearing he was in Chinese custody for speaking out.

In a news release this week, the Toronto Association for Democracy in China said "credible information" has confirmed that Dong is being held in "incommunicado detention."

“Chinese authorities must release Dong Guangping immediately and unconditionally and allow him to travel to Canada to be reunited with his family," TADC said. "At this point in time he appears to be held without charge or trial. There has been no public acknowledgement of his detention by the Chinese government.”

The statement did not provide a source of the confirmation of Dong's detention.

In 2015, Dong had been granted asylum in Canada, along with his wife and daughter. Before his flight to Canada, which was departing from Bangkok, Thai authorities arrested Dong without explicit reason and delivered him to China, separating him from his family, they say.

After being released from a Chinese prison again, Dong fled to Vietnam in January 2020 where he was living in hiding while the Canadian government attempted to secure him travel documents.

On Aug. 24, 2022, Dong was last seen with a hood being put over his head and taken into custody by dozens of Vietnamese police. Communication with his family has once again been cut off, TDAC said.

For a while, nothing was known about his whereabouts.

Dong’s daughter, Katherine, a Toronto university student and Canadian citizen, publicly announced in February of 2023 that Vietnamese authorities have provided no information on her father’s arrest, despite requests from UN officials and the Canadian government.

“The government of Vietnam continues to torment my family by refusing to explain why they arrested my father almost six months ago,” she said in a press release in February.

“I had hoped he would be safely reunited with us here in Canada by now. Instead we are left to agonize about his safety.”

Both Vietnamese and Chinese officials have previously refused to disclose information about Dong’s captivity.

In the press release, TADC said Dong was “likely returned to China (from Vietnam) sometime in October 2022. The circumstances of how that transpired remain unknown.”

The release added that Dong currently has no access to family visits or communication. He has also had no contact with a lawyer since his disappearance in August 2022, according to his family.

TADC said that credible sources have confirmed that Dong has been held in the Zhengzhou No. 3 Detention Centre in Henan Province since October.

Katherine Dong pleaded for her father’s release.

“I implore Chinese officials to relent in their cruel pursuit of my father simply because he stands strong for human rights,” she said in the press release.

“I beg them to free him and allow him to join us here in Canada.”

With files from CTV National News Ottawa Correspondent Judy Trinh

 An earlier version of this article states that Chinese authorities confirmed Dong Guangping whereabouts. This was an error, as the source of information -- although cited as credible by Dong's family -- was not specifically identified.

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