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Outcry for China activist’s daughter

BEIJING — Dozens of Chinese rights lawyers and citizens have flocked to an eastern city this week to protest an elementary school’s preventing the 10-year-old daughter of an activist from returning to class.

Supporters have gathered in the past few days in Hefei to stage hunger strikes in front of Hupo Elementary School and hold makeshift classes for Zhang Anni, daughter of democracy activist Zhang Lin, at a nearby square.

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The protesters are urging the school to allow Anni to resume lessons, saying the child should not be denied an education because of her father’s activism.

The outcry underscores public anger over social injustice and an increasing willingness among citizens to openly reject China’s long-held practice of extending the punishment of government critics to their family members, including their children. Authorities routinely harass the relatives of activists and dissidents to pressure them into cooperating.

‘‘I was shocked to learn that she should be implicated by her father and deprived of an education,’’ said Kang Suping, a protester who traveled to Hefei and staged a hunger strike Friday. ‘‘It’s unthinkable that it should happen today.’’

Zhang said four unidentified men took Anni from her school on Feb. 27 as authorities forced him and his daughter to temporarily return to their hometown.

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