A che punto è la notte in Cina?

Attraverso i suoi 60 anni di esistenza, la Repubblica popolare di Cina, si è evoluta da un regime puramente totalitario ad un regime autoritario, e la popolazione cinese è caduta dalla padella alla brace. Nei nostri giorni, la democrazia, il pluralismo politico e i diritti umani sono ancora un sogno inaccessibile per 1.3 miliardi di cinesi.

Segue il comunicato di Human Rights Without Frontiers

Throughout its 60 years of existence, the People’s Republic of China has evolved from a purely totalitarian regime to an authoritarian regime and the Chinese people have fallen from the frying pan into the fire. Nowadays, democracy, political pluralism and human rights are still an inaccessible dream for 1.3 billion Chinese. Despite a growing use of a human rights discourse among Chinese officials and growing opportunities for civil society activism in the country, official interpretations of human rights remain highly circumscribed. Quite often they fail to meet international human rights standards, particularly in politically sensitive areas, such as freedom of expression and association.

Under such circumstances, those who become openly involved in human rights advocacy in China put their lives, their physical integrity and their freedom at risk. Even those working in officially registered civil society organizations may be at risk. However, numerous groups and individuals peacefully act to raise public awareness of human rights violations and call on the authorities at both local and national levels to bring human rights abuses to an end. They are ordinary citizens, workers, students, old persons, lawyers, journalists and defenders of labor rights; they fight for the right to health, the right to housing, workers’ rights, freedom of religion, minority rights, right to redress, and so on. At any moment, their lives can become a hell. Here are a few concrete cases.

The cost of defending people’s rights

The case of Xie Changfa: On September 1, 2009, Xie Changfa was sentenced by the Changsha Municipal Intermediate Court to 13 years’ imprisonment and 5 years’ deprivation of political rights for allegedly organizing a political party, a right protected under the Chinese Constitution.

The court decision stated that Xie Changfa illegally set up the China Democracy Party (CDP), compiled and wrote articles with the intent to disseminate them in order to overturn state power and the socialist system. According to the decision, these crimes constitute “illegally setting up a party in the long term,” “soliciting and inciting others to attack, denigrate, and overturn state power and the socialist system,” and not only “incitement” but also the “subversion of state power.”

The case of Chen Guangcheng: This blind activist sought to publicize the authorities’ forced abortions and forced sterilizations of thousands of women in Linyi, Shandong Province. He was jailed and tortured, and his family put under 24-hour surveillance. However, China Daily, a state-controlled newspaper, recently published annual abortion figures of 13 million. Most of them are not the result of a free choice but have been imposed by the state.

The case of attorney Gao Zhisheng: This lawyer is Christian and defends victims of religious persecution and others, including Falun Gong practitioners. Mr. Gao Zhisheng was last seen on 4 February 2009, at a relative’s home in Shaanxi province, where more than 10 public security officers and others forcibly removed him from bed at midnight, and whisked him away to an unknown location. Since then, Mr. Gao’s whereabouts and health remain unknown. What is known is that for over 50 days he was repeatedly tortured during his previous arrest by Chinese authorities in 2007.

The release of human rights defenders

Recently, three leading Chinese civil society advocates – Xu Zhiyong, Zhuang Lu, and Ilham Tohti – who had been arrested in Beijing were released after several weeks’ imprisonment. This shows that the Chinese government can be responsive to domestic and international human rights concerns.

Xu Zhiyong, the founder of the legal advocacy group Open Constitution Initiative (also known by its Chinese name, Gongmeng), and Zhuang Lu, its financial manager, had been arrested on July 29 2009, for allegedly evading tax payments on a grant from Yale University, while Gongmeng itself was fined 1.4 million yuan (US$206,000).

In a separate development, the police also released Ilham Tohti, an Uighur professor at Beijing’s Nationalities University, on 23 July 2009. Tohti was arrested on 8 July 2009, shortly after the governor of the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region had blamed Uighur Online, a website run by Tohti, for helping spark riots in Urumqi, Xinjiang’s capital. Tohti had written on the website about the central government’s discriminatory policies in Xinjiang and warned about the risks of ethnic unrest. Tohti’s website was shut down shortly after his arrest, in the same way that Gongmeng’s websites were shut down after Xu’s arrest.

These releases are a step in the right direction but we cannot close our eyes to the fact that the government’s restrictions on NGOs continue to leave tens of thousands of civil society organizations across the country vulnerable to arbitrary political and administrative interference.
We remain deeply concerned about the government’s tight grip on civil society. The arrests all appear to have taken place as a result of peaceful activities, and these releases should not be the tree that hides the forest. Civil society organizations are still under serious threat.

NGOs defending human rights

Under China’s highly restrictive NGO regulations, only organizations that have gained approval by the government prior to their establishment can register as non-profit entities; many who were set up without prior government approval opt to register as commercial enterprises to try to comply with the law. The Beijing authorities’ decision to suspend Gongmeng on the grounds that it had “falsely registered as a commercial enterprise in view of carrying out civic non-commercial activities” has sent waves of concern through China’s non-profit community. While Xu and Zhuang have now been released, it is not clear whether Gongmeng will be able to resume its operations and to continue representing clients in court given that it has no registration as an NGO and that all its work files, computers, and archives remain in the hands of the police.

Both cases caused considerable alarm over a possible hardening of the government’s attitude toward NGOs that have so far managed to operate and create space within the confines of the Chinese government’s restrictions.

Taken together, the raids appear part of a tightening of controls on critical voices in the run-up to Oct. 1, the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China. The two NGOs are among a growing number using the law to hold authorities to account on issues such as food safety, patient rights, and illegal detention.

But they share another common thread: both received grants from American and other foreign donors.

The harassment of these and other foreign-funded NGOs in Beijing has raised fears of a Russian-style squeeze on civil society. Since 2006, Russia has stripped the tax-free status of many foreign foundations and forced NGOs to report their activities in exhaustive detail, while accusing foreign-funded human rights groups of being Trojan horses for Western powers. A bad practice that should not be followed by the People’s Republic of China.

By Willy Fautré, director
Human Rights Without Frontiers Int’l



International conference on democracy in China held at the

European Parliament

HRWF Int. (01.10.2009) – Website: http://www.hrwf.net – Email: info@hrwf.net – “60 Years of Democracy in China”, held at the European Parliament on September 30 and co-organized by Human Rights Without Frontiers, included representatives of minority groups from Tibet, East Turkestan and the Falun Gong religious minority who spoke about what the international community can do to put an end to the human rights abuses that are taking place among their people in China. The conference was chaired by Vice President of the European Parliament Edward McMillan-Scott, while Graham Watson (MEP ALDE), Thomas Mann (MEP EPP), Eva Lichtenberger (MEP Greens/EFA), Tashi Wangdi, the Representative to the EU for the Dalai Lama, Isa Dolkun of the World Uighur Congress, Man-Yan Ng, EU Representative of the Falun Gong, and Paolo Barabesi of Human Rights Without Frontiers made up the panel.

Trouble in Tibet

Tashi Wangdi, wanted to make it clear that he was not visiting the European Parliament in order to criticize China and their people, nor to attempt to break up China. Said Wangdi, “My people are not seeking independence, or threatening the territorial integrity of China-we only want the autonomy that was promised us 60 years ago by Chairman Mao Zedong.”

Wangdi expressed his opinion that China’s strict censorship as well as state control of the media is giving the Chinese the wrong impression about Tibet’s intentions and desires.

When Deng Xiaoping met with the Dalai Lama’s brother in the 1970s, says Wangdi, he seemed confident that an agreement could be reached that both would be satisfied with. Yet, 30 years later nothing has happened.

“We only want a fulfillment of the promises made. We only want rights.” He finished his remarks by stating that his people are now turning to the international community to reach out to China for a solution.

MEP Thomas Mann stated that Tibet could benefit from a special envoy to the EU.

Uighur Repression

Isa Dolkun of the World Uighur Congress spoke of the difficulties the Uighur in East Turkestan have faced as well since China’s founding 60 years ago. ” The Uighur people celebrate this anniversary as a day of mourning,” he said, noting that the East Turkestan region was created 60 years ago against the wishes of the Uighur, and China has held sovereignty over them ever since. “Except on paper, we have never seen autonomy.”

China currently considers Uighur nationalists to be “terrorists” and has, in many instances, used the “war on terror” as a pretext to suppress the Uighur population.

Mr. Dolkun encouraged the EU to establish a connection with the Uighur to work for autonomy.

Falun Gong Issues

Man-Yan Ng, a representative of the Falun Gong, discussed the harsh persecution of the Falun Gong spiritual movement in China. This movement, once recommended to Chinese citizens by Chinese leadership as a method of healing, was in 1999 targeted for systematic persecution, according to Man-Yan. The group’s membership had grown to an astounding 100 million followers in less than a decade.

But soon, said Man-Yan, the Chinese perceived the growing numbers to be a threat to their sovereignty over the people. Consequently, the attempted repression of both thought and action by Chinese leadership began.

Vice President McMillan-Scott termed this persecution the “hidden persecution.” Today, an estimated 2/3 of all prisoners in Chinese ‘re-education’ camps are Falun Gong adherents, stated McMillan.

Said Man-Yan, “We cannot fight violence with violence. We need to fight against disinformation.” He suggested that the only way to bring about the end of Chinese oppression against all groups, including the Falun Gong, is through the spreading of information and the breaking down of China’s strict regime of censorship.

“Please give your support to this righteous cause – this fight lies inside and out of China.”

Paolo Barabesi, stepping in for Willy Fautre of Human Rights Without Frontiers, followed Man-Yan’s remarks with an invitation to China not to further restrict the actions of local and foreign ngo’s in its country while also encouraging the EU to continue voicing their concern for human rights issues strongly and directly with China.

Graham Watson suggested that China’s real threats are not these underrepresented groups, but that China itself is the threat, for three main reasons: its military buildup, the repression of its own people(as seen in Tibet and Xinjiang), and in its support for autocrats in places like Burma, Sudan, and Zimbabwe.

He recommended the EU take measures to build up India and Indonesia as a bulwark for democracy in Asia, and expand teaching and understanding of Chinese literature and culture in order to demystify the country.

Human Rights Without Frontiers

Avenue Winston Churchill 11/33
1180 Brussels, Belgium
Website: http://www.hrwf.net; http://www.willyfautre.org
E-mail: international.secretariat.brussels@hrwf.net


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