Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Human Rights in China Condemns Latest Crack Down on Activists

Human Rights in China yesterday condemned a recent crackdown on Beijing-based activists coinciding with the resumption of talks on human rights between the United States and China.

Several human rights and democracy activists were put under heightened surveillance and their movements restricted before U.S. representatives arrived in Beijing for the talks, sources in China say.

"If the Chinese government does not want the world to view the dialogue with Washington as a mere public relations exercise staged ahead of the Beijing Olympics, it must immediately end the restrictions on these individuals in accordance with Chinese and international human rights law," said Human Rights in China Executive Director Sharon Hom.

The crackdown took place over the weekend before the latest round of the Sino-U.S. human rights dialogue held on Monday.

Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi signaled his government's readiness to resume the dialogue during a February visit to Beijing by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. The human rights dialogue had been suspended since 2002.

Activists targeted for harassment over the rights dialogue include Qi Zhiyong (齐志勇) and Li Hai (李海), activists who took part in events related to the 1989 Democracy Movement protests in Tiananmen Square; China Democracy Party member Gao Hongming (高洪明); Jia Jianying (贾建英), the wife of jailed democracy activist He Depu (何德普); AIDS activist Wan Yanhai (万延海); rights defense lawyer Zhang Xingshui (张星水); and house church activist Xu Yonghai (徐永海).

Sources in China said Qi Zhiyong and his family have been under surveillance since May 23. Qi was seized by police for three days and, though he has since been returned home, he is required to travel in a police car whenever he leaves his house. Even his ten-year-old daughter is followed by police when she leaves the house.

The Chinese authorities told Zhang Xingshui not to attend a reception at the U.S. embassy to which he was invited, according to sources in China. Jia Jianying was taken to an unknown location approximately two hours from Beijing on the morning of May 25, and has not yet been released.

Li Hai was placed under house arrest on May 24, and Gao Hongming, Wan Yanhai, and Xu Yonghai have been placed under similar restrictions since May 24, sources report.


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