Chinese singer and activist Xu Lin was officially arrested on 2 November 2017, after having been detained since 29 September 2017, for “picking quarrels and provoking trouble”. Fellow singer and activist Liu Sifang, who had also been detained since 29 September 2017, was released on bail, according to Amnesty International.
Rights lawyer Sui Muqing, who visited Xu Lin in prison, told Radio Free Asia (RFA) that such a charge “has become one of the main charges used to crack down on freedom of speech”, and is one that is “pinned on dissidents and rights activists”.
Both artists were originally detained on suspicion of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” and had their homes searched, as well as their computers and phones confiscated.
Surveillance cameras have been installed in Xu Lin’s home and his wife is being closely watched and followed. She also has not been allowed to contact anyone outside of her family and cannot speak to foreign media, China Human Rights Observer staffer Xu Qin told RFA.
Sifang told his lawyer in October that at one point he had been interrogated for 48 consecutive hours. Though released, Sifang is still considered to be a criminal suspect and can be questioned over the next 12 months. Qin told RFA that since his release, Sifang and his wife have had to leave their town of Foshan after state security police told him to leave.
The two artists have frequently collaborated on songs, which they release online, that focus on social injustices and are popular with other activists. Their songs have included topics such as Tiananmen Square, detentions of activists and lawyers, and, most recently, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo, who died in Chinese custody in July 2017.