World: Why Christmas time in China means jail for human rights activists - - PressFrom - US
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World Why Christmas time in China means jail for human rights activists

05:35  25 december  2016
05:35  25 december  2016 Source:   theguardian.com

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Three human rights activists will come to trial in the next few days, at a time when many foreign diplomats, journalists The disappeared: faces of human rights activists China wants to silence. But experts say that for politically sensitive cases, the law is used as a tool to jail rights lawyers and

Three human rights activists will come to trial in the next few days when many foreign diplomats, journalists and NGO observers are away from “When the most prominent human rights activists are put on trial during the Christmas period, that’s definitely deliberate,” said William Nee, a China

FILE - In this May 2, 2012 file photo, Human rights activist Jiang Tianyong speaks to journalists outside a hospital after his failed attempt to see blind Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng who is believed to be seeking treatment in Beijing, China. © AP Photo/Ng Han Guan, File FILE - In this May 2, 2012 file photo, Human rights activist Jiang Tianyong speaks to journalists outside a hospital after his failed attempt to see blind Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng who is believed to be seeking treatment in Beijing, China. As people celebrate around the world, a new Christmas tradition is increasingly popular in China: jailing political prisoners, hoping the distraction of the holiday season will lead to less attention.

This year is no different. Three human rights activists will come to trial in the next few days when many foreign diplomats, journalists and NGO observers are away from their desks.

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Three human rights activists will come to trial in the next few days, at a time when many foreign diplomats, journalists and NGO observers are “When the most prominent human rights activists are put on trial during the Christmas period, that’s definitely deliberate,” said William Nee, a China

A prominent Chinese human rights activist has been jailed eight years in jail for subversion on The disappeared: faces of human rights activists China wants to silence. “Carrying out unfair trials and politicized sentencing of human rights defenders at the very time when diplomats, journalists

“When the most prominent human rights activists are put on trial during the Christmas period, that’s definitely deliberate,” said William Nee, a China researcher at Amnesty International. “The government doesn’t want international attention and they don’t want foreign observers, so they go to extreme lengths to avoid international scrutiny of these show trials.”

Chen Yunfei will be tried on Boxing Day, after already languishing in police detention for the past 21 months. Charged with “picking quarrels and provoking trouble”, Chen organised a memorial for victims of the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre during the holiday in which Chinese traditionally pay respects to the dead.

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Human Rights Fund it ran training sessions for human rights lawyers and investigative journalists and offered support to young Chinese campaigners traumatised by run-ins with Just as China Action was ramping up its operations, however, the human rights situation in China took a turn for the worse.

Human rights in China is a highly contested topic, especially for the fundamental human rights periodically reviewed by the United Nations Human Rights Committee (UNHRC), on which the government of the People's Republic of China and various foreign governments and human rights

On the Friday 23 December police confirmed they were investigating prominent Christian rights lawyer Jiang Tianyong on suspicion of “inciting subversion of state power”. He had been missing since November 21 and his family still does not know where he is being held.

Jiang’s wife, Jin Bianling, said the couple had been unable to celebrate Christmas since 2012 because of harassment from the police. Jin moved to the United States three years ago, but this is the first Christmas she has not been able to speak to her husband.

“He used to call and send photos every year and tell us how much he missed me, he didn’t want me to feel alone on Christmas,” Jin said, choking back tears. “But this year we don’t even know where he is, and we fear he may spend Christmas being tortured.”

A United Nations human rights panel shared her fears in a statement earlier this month: “We fear that Jiang’s disappearance may be directly linked to his advocacy and he may be at risk of torture.”

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"The rights defence and broader civil society community in China is rightly outraged. For some time now they have rallied around Wang Quanzhang China 's crackdown on lawyers, known as the "709" crackdown because it began on 9 July, has been seen by activists as a sign of a growing intolerance

China ’s growing global influence means many of its rights violations now have international implications. In April, security officials at the United Nations China continues to detain non-citizens for promoting human rights in China . In March, Guangdong authorities arbitrarily detained Taiwan

On 21 December it emerged that Xie Yang, another rights lawyer, had his case transferred to the prosecutor’s office in preparation for him to be tried on charges of “inciting subversion of state power” and “disrupting court order”.

Xie has been held since July 2015, part of a nationwide sweep that saw more than 300 lawyers and activist detained in what some have called a “war on law”.

In the most famous case, Nobel peace prize winner Liu Xiaobo was sentenced to 11 years in prison on Christmas Day 2009. Last year, free speech champion Pu Zhiqiang was given a three year suspended sentence on December 22 and Yang Maodong and Sun Desheng were both convicted during an all-night trial at the time of the American Thanksgiving holiday in November 2015.

“The Chinese government tries to give the impression that they don’t care about the world’s opinion,” Nee said. “In fact the government is very concerned about international public opinion and how people see the rule of law in China developing.”

President Xi Jinping has made strengthening the “rule of law” a hallmark of his regime since coming to power in 2012. But experts say that for politically sensitive cases, the law is used as a tool to jail rights lawyers and activists with legal procedures often ignored.

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Human rights attorney Xie Yang says he was shackled, beaten and threatened, in transcripts released in protest at his continued incarceration. On day one of his detention Xie Yang claims he was shackled to a metal chair and ordered to explain why he had joined an illegal anti-Communist party

The backlash is painful, but it coexists with progress as women activists manage – slowly – to bring about a change in attitudes. Two women’s rights groups, Women Awakening Network and Yuanzhong Gender Development Centre, gave her That’s why there is hope for feminism in China .

In a sign that Chinese authorities are increasingly concerned about public opinion, both at home and abroad, a series of propaganda videos have circulated on social media.

One video titled “A Notice to Foreign Forces: We’ve Captured Jiang Tianyong!” was posted by the Communist youth league central committee just days before police officially announced they were investigating him.

The video uses cartoons, photos and even a scene from a Mr Bean film, describing Jiang as a “malefactor” who colluded and received money from unnamed “foreign forces”. Jiang’s detention may be a reprisal for meeting with United Nations experts, according to Philip Alston, the UN special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights.

“These videos are very significant because they are aggressively sending a message to the rights defense and human rights lawyers community,” Nee said. “It’s to frighten these people and say ‘If you stand up for Jiang Tianyong and sign petitions on his behalf, you could be next.’”

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