( Newsvine ) - Authorities in central China have detained a longtime democracy campaigner in a security clampdown ahead of the Communist Party congress this month, his son and another activist said Wednesday.
Yao Yao said his father Yao Lifa and other relatives had been taken from their home in the central city of Qianjiang by plainclothes officers on Oct. 1 and would likely not be freed until after the congress.
China "doesn't lack for bad news, but I only have one father," Yao Yao said in an e-mail from New York where he now lives.
Hu Jia , a Beijing-based activist for people with AIDS and other causes, said he had been unable to reach Yao Lifa for days. Hu said he was told that police had recently threatened action against Yao Lifa for providing legal advice to teachers who had started a school outside the state system.
Calls to Yao Lifa's cell phone were answered Wednesday by a message saying it had been turned off.
Yao Lifa was briefly detained last year while mounting an unsuccessful bid for a local council seat in Qianjiang . The former teacher and local education bureau official won a Qianjiang people's congress seat in 1998, but lost it in 2003 amid local government hostility toward his efforts to help dispossessed farmers and others.
China's security services routinely detain or ratchet up monitoring of dissidents, human rights activists and former political prisoners ahead of sensitive occasions.
Security has also been visibly stepped up in Beijing in recent days ahead of the 17th Communist Party congress starting Monday, underscoring authorities' determination to prevent protests or other disruptions.
More than 2,000 party delegates will gather for the congress, at which president and party leader Hu Jintao will oversee new appointments to top positions and lay out his policy agenda for the next five years.