Teacher Jailed For Reporting on Human Rights Violations
Human rights activist in China face great risks in speaking out and fighting. Amnesty International’s latest report examines the situation and argues that although the Chinese constitution grantees the right to petition the authorities and today, more and more individuals and groups are working to protect human rights, yet they continue to operate in a climate of mistrust and hostility
These people may be at risk of arrest or imprisonment at any time.
One example is the case of Abdulghani Memetemin, a teacher, writer and journalist, who reported on human rights violations against the ethnic Uighur community in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, in north-west China (please see related NEAR Alerts). Memetemin was, in June 2003, convicted of "violating state secrets and sending them outside the country" and sentenced to nine years in prison, plus an additional three years of suspended political rights.
Amnesty International underlined the cases of other activists that have been imprisoned for vaguely defined 'state secrets' offences, after they collected information on human rights issues and sent it abroad. The organisation called on the Chinese government to release Abdulghani Memetemin, and all other activists who have been imprisoned for their peaceful human rights activities.
Chinese law contains sweeping definitions of crimes, such as 'subversion' and 'stealing state secrets', which can be used to detain and imprison people simply for engaging in legitimate human rights activities. Activists have also frequently been subject to arbitrary detention, harassment, and intimidation.
In March 2004 China amended its Constitution to include the clause, "the state respects and protects human rights". The most powerful demonstration of this commitment would be an end to imprisonment, arbitrary detention and intimidation of activists on the ground.
The Constitution also guarantees citizens' rights to petition the authorities, but a state institution, the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, recently warned that an increasing number of people thought official state channels were no longer sufficient to sort out their complaints about local corruption and malpractice. It recognized that some local governments resorted to violence to stop petitioners making their case to central government, a practice it described as 'appalling and outrageous'.
Activists work across a range of fields, from Christians defending their right to worship to the 'Tiananmen Mothers' group campaigning for justice for their children who died in the 1989 crackdown. Economic, social, cultural, civil and political rights -- all have become subjects for activism in China.
"The Chinese authorities have got to realize that these individuals are working to protect the human rights of their fellow citizens," said Ms Baber, deputy Asia Director at Amnesty International. "They must ensure that all human rights activists are able to work without fear of harassment, arbitrary detention or any other abuses of their human rights."
Amnesty International is also calling on the international community, including the EU, to urge China to release all those imprisoned for their peaceful human rights activities and reform the laws used to imprison them.
The report also contains appeals on behalf of the following individuals:
-Liu Fenggang, 45, who wrote a number of reports about the destruction of Protestant churches and the harsh treatment suffered by members of underground congregations
- Zheng Enchong, a 54-year-old lawyer, who represented families who had been forcibly evicted from their homes in Shanghai. He was accused of faxing documents to a human rights NGO in New York.
- Li Dan, 26, an activist working to defend the right to health of those suffering with HIV/AIDS in China
- Yao Fuxin, 54, and Xiao Yunliang, 58, both workers imprisoned for peacefully defending workers' rights
- Zhang Shengqi, 30, and Xu Yonghai, 44, both members of the unofficial Protestant church working to protect the right to freedom of religion for fellow Christians in China
- The Tiananmen Mothers, a group of relatives who campaign for justice for those who were killed in the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown.
Alert - China
|Date:||07 December 2004|
|Classification:||NEAR Member Alert|
|Affected Persons:||Abdulghani Memetemin,|
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