Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Reporters sans frontiers - Asia page

Reporters Without Borders has an excellent website with huge amounts of information. Just since the start of this month, there are five news items relating to China on their Asia page:

7 December 2004

Cyberdissident Ouyang Yi released at the end of his sentence

Reporters Without Borders welcomed the release at the end of his sentence on 4 December of cyberdissident Ouyang Yi, who had been in prison for two years after setting up a pro-democracy website.

But the worldwide press freedom organisation protested that he was now serving a "second sentence", since he is banned from publishing for two years and will be under close police supervision. ...

6 December 2004

Arrest of poet and journalist Shi Tao

Reporters Without Borders condemned the arrest of journalist Shi Tao and urged the EU delegation to the 8 December EU-China summit in the Netherlands to press China's Premier Wen Jiabao to stop unfair arrests of journalists.

The worldwide press freedom organisation also called on the Chinese authorities to release Shi, arrested at his home in Taiyuan in Shanxi province in the north-east on 24 November 2004 for "disclosing confidential government information".

This latest arrest only adds to the relentless pressure suffered by journalists in China, the organisation said. ...

Five resign from editorial board in solidarity with dismissed magazine editor

Five of the six members of the board that provides editorial advice and recommendations to the magazine Tong Zhou Gong Jin ("Solidarity in the same boat") have resigned in protest against editor Xiao Weibin's dismissal on 2 September.

All local political figures known for pro-reform positions, the five announced their resignation on 18 October. Their names disappeared from the magazine's organisation chart in November. They are Ren Zhongyi, the former Communist Party chief in Guangzhou, Wu Nansheng, Zheng Qun, Qi Feng and Yang Yingbin.

Xiao, who had been a member of the magazine's editorial board since its creation in 1988, was fired for publishing an interview with Ren in which he advocated political reforms and criticised the authorities for censoring the print media and Internet. ...

3 December 2004

Reporters Without Borders backs European Coalition appeal not to lift China arms embargo

Open Letter to the European Union from the European Coalition Against the Lifting the EU's Embargo on Weapons Sales to China

Friday 3 December 2004 :

In the lead up to the seventh EU-China Summit on 8 December 2004 in The Hague, our organisations call on the EU to retain the weapons sales embargo on China. An end to the embargo cannot be justified without significant improvement of human rights in China.

We regret that some European Union leaders have seemingly dismissed the repeated concerns of the European Parliament, human rights groups and the citizens of Europe by indicating that they are "ready to give a positive signal to China" with regard to lifting its embargo on weapons sales.

The arms embargo was imposed as a direct response to the Tiananmen Square massacre in June 1989 and following the similarly brutal quelling of civil unrest by the People's Liberation Army (PLA) in Tibet in the same year. The international outrage over the killings and arrests of thousands of students and workers by the PLA prompted the European countries to react with firmness.

Any lifting of the arms embargo would potentially lead to European weapons technology being used to suppress peaceful resistance by the people of Tibet, East Turkistan (now known as the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region), Inner Mongolia, against Taiwan, or end up in the hands of the North Korean, Burmese and/or Sudanese military, who are privileged recipients of Chinese arms. ...

Reformist journalists and intellectuals punished and censored

Reporters Without Borders has alerted the European delegation to the EU-China summit in the Netherlands on 8 December that China has launched a new crackdown against reformists.

The Propaganda Department blacklisted six renowned political commentators from the state-owned press in November 2004. The authorities have also curbed coverage on the role of intellectuals in the development of China. Journalist Wang Guangze has been sacked under official pressure.

As Prime Minister Wen Jiabao attends the EU-China summit, a new wave of censorship and repression has been unleashed, said the worldwide press freedom organisation.

These sanctions from another age, sidelining liberals from political life, threatened to damage the credibility of reforms instituted by Wen Jibao's government, it said.

Some 25 Chinese journalists and 62 cyberdissidents are currently imprisoned, the organisation pointed out. ...

2 December 2004

Journalist Yu Dongyue reportedly loses his mind after being tortured

Reporters Without Borders called today on European Commission President José Manuel Barroso to use the upcoming EU - China Summit to urge the Chinese authorities to free journalist Yu Dongyue after reports that he has gone insane as a result of being tortured in prison.

The worldwide press freedom organisation expressed shock at the news, which came from another Chinese dissident and friend, who said Yu had been tortured and harassed by his guards. "Very lengthy imprisonment of dissidents is a feature of the repression in China and it is vital that this should be raised at the Summit," it said.

"The release last week of journalist and dissident Liu Jingsheng is sadly eclipsed by the plight of Yu, whose situation shows that ill-treatment continues in China's prisons despite the government's efforts to hide its terrible human rights record."

Dissident Lu Decheng, who demonstrated at the time of the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre, recently told Radio Free Asia after escaping from China that he had visited Yu in prison and that he was "barely recognisable." He had "a totally dull look in his eyes, kept repeating words over and over as if he was chanting a matra. He didn't recognise anyone," Lu said.

"He had a big scar on the right side of his head. A fellow prisoner said Yu had been tied to a electricity pole and left out in the hot sun for several days. He was also kept in solitary confinement for two years and that was what broke him." ...

In the face of such horror, it is hard not to feel powerless. One small practical step is to sign the petition for the release of Huang Qi, here. You may help to save a life.

Huang Qi, tortured in prison

When state security police came to arrest Huang Qi at his home on 3 June 2000, he just had time to send a last e-mail message saying : "Goodbye everyone, the police want to take me away. We've got a long road ahead of us. Thanks to all those helping to further democracy in China."

Huang, founder of the website, waited for nearly three years before finding out he had been sentenced to five years in prison for "subversion" and "incitement to overthrow the government." He was accused of allowing articles about the June 1989 Tiananmen massacre to appear on his website (based in the United States after being banned in China).

Cyber-dissident Huang, worn out by prison interrogators and bad detention conditions, fainted at the first court hearing in February 2001. A Western diplomat who was present said he had a scar on his forehead and had lost a tooth after being beaten by guards. The trial was adjourned when International Olympics Committee officials came to Beijing to look at the city's candidacy to host the 2008 Olympics. Beijing was awarded the Games a few months later.

He is held at the high security prison of Chuan Zhong (near Nanchong, 200 kilometres east of Chengdu). Many blows to the groin have left him impotent and he regularly finds blood in his urine. The police forced him to sleep on the bare floor for a year. He was also kept handcuffed in a dark room for one year.

He told his wife he did not think he would be released at the end of his sentence. He said he was afraid he would "disappear".

Click here to go to the petition

No comments: