Four Chinese Poets Arrested, Human Rights Group Claims

China has detained four poets known for their liberal views, without explanation, a human rights group said Sunday.

The poets, Wu Ruohai, Xiong Jinren, Ma Zhe and Ma Qiang, were taken away last week, and their families have not been told why, the Hong Kong-based Information Center of Human Rights and Democratic Movement in China reported, citing anonymous sources.

The report could not be confirmed with local officials, since government offices were closed Sunday for the Chinese Lunar New Year.

The poets are not widely known as dissidents, although Ma Zhe, 38, spent three years in prison for participating in student demonstrations in 1986, the rights group said in a statement.

The four had formed a literature salon and gathered frequently for poetry readings. They were planning to publish an independent journal to promote a Chinese literary renaissance, it said.

Limits on arts and other forms of expression in China have eased somewhat in the past few years, but authorities have tried to maintain tight controls on publications.

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