17 January 2008

The European Parliament demands immediate release of Hu Jia

Arrest of Chinese dissident Hu Jia
Human rights - 17-01-2008 - 18:14
Photo dated 09 January 2007 shows prominent human rights activist Hu Jia and his wife Zeng Jinyan (L) as they pose for a photo at their apartment during an interview in Beijing. ©BELGA/AFP/Frederic J. BROWN
Free Hu Jia!
In a resolution adopted on Thursday afternoon, MEPs called on the Chinese authorities to release human rights campaigner Hu Jia and to respect human rights in the run-up to this year's Olympic Games.

Hu Jia was taken from his home in Beijing by police on 27 December 2007 on charges of inciting subversion. He and his wife Zeng Jinyan, who were among the candidates for last year's European Parliament Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, have thrown the spotlight on human rights abuses in China over the past few years and spent many periods under house arrest as a result of their campaigning.

Last November Hu Jia spoke via audio-phone from Beijing to a hearing held in Brussels by the EP's Human Rights Subcommittee on Human rights in China in the run-up to the Olympic Games. At that time the subcommittee's chair, Hélène Flautre (Greens/EFA, FR), congratulated Hu Jia on his courage in speaking out and said he could always count on the support of the European Parliament.

Human rights organisations described the December arrest as another move by the Chinese authorities to silence critics ahead of the Beijing Olympics, and 57 intellectuals from China immediately published an open letter calling for the instant release of Hu Jia. European Parliament President Hans-Gert Pöttering has already issued a statement criticising the arrest.

MEPs demand immediate release of Hu Jia and other dissidents

In today's resolution, Parliament "strongly condemns the detention of Hu Jia and demands his prompt release and that of all the dissidents who have been arrested and jailed for crimes of opinion". It also urges the authorities "to allow Hu Jia and all the other dissidents under arrest to receive medical assistance if necessary" (Hu Jia suffers from a liver disease).

China urged to live up to its human rights commitments - especially in Olympic year

MEPs call on China "to respect its commitments to human rights and the rule of law, in particular the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders" and "not to use the Olympic Games as a pretext to arrest and illegally detain and imprison dissidents, journalists and human rights activists".

Indeed, Parliament repeats its view that "human rights concerns should receive far more attention in the build-up to the Beijing Olympic Games", and points to Articles 1 and 2 of the Olympic Charter, which advocate 'respect for universal fundamental ethical principles' and the promotion of a peaceful society concerned 'with the preservation of human dignity'.

Reform of Chinese criminal law needed

In addition, MEPs call on China "to reform its criminal law to allow greater freedom of expression to journalists, writers, free-lances, reporters etc." who will report to the world on the Olympic Games. They also urge the authorities "to close the so-called 'black jails', places of detention set up to detain 'troublemakers' in advance of this year's Olympics".

Lastly, the EU Council is urged to take action in relation to the Chinese authorities regarding not only the arrest of Hu Jia but also the disappearance on 22 September 2007 of Gao Zhisheng, a noted human rights attorney.

To have an idea of Hú Jiā's plight (from The Guardian/Helsingin Sanomat)

1 comment:

  1. China dissident Hu Jia formally charged
    (from the Guardian)
    BEIJING, Feb 1 - China has formally arrested prominent dissident Hu Jia, his lawyers said on Friday, making it more likely he will eventually face trial on political charges and be a focus of rights campaigns before the Beijing Olympics.
    Hu, a 34-year-old Beijing-based advocate for AIDS sufferers and a range of human rights issues, was detained in late December on the charge of "inciting subversion of state power" -- an accusation China's Communist Party authorities often use against dissidents airing critical views and calls for democracy.
    Two of Hu's lawyers, Teng Biao and Li Heping, told Reuters the procuratorate, or state prosecution agency, had approved his formal arrest by police, meaning they can continue investigating charges with a view to prosecution.
    They were unsure of the precise charges in the arrest notice served to his family on Wednesday but said it was sure to remain subversion.
    "Once the procuratorate takes this step, it means it could be very hard to avoid a trial," said Li. "In principle, the procuratorate could still decide there's no case to prosecute, but that looks more unlikely now."
    Teng said it could take at least two months -- if not much longer, given the many opportunities for extensions in China's legal system -- before prosecutors decide whether to put Hu before a court.
    Hu was kept under house arrest for 214 days last year, keeping contact with other activists and foreign reporters through the telephone and Internet.
    His wife, Zeng Jinyan, also an outspoken rights advocate, and their two-month-old daughter remain under house arrest in Beijing and could not be contacted by telephone.
    Hu's formal arrest drew an outcry from foreign rights groups, who said it was part of a pre-Olympic Games crackdown.
    "It is clear that the action taken against Hu Jia cannot escape being connected to the Olympics," said the San Francisco-based Duihua Foundation on its Web site (www.duihua.org).
    Authorities wanted to "take this high-profile rights activist out of action in the final months before the Olympics," said the Foundation, which seeks to free Chinese political prisoners, adding that Hu may not even see a lawyer before the Games end.
    Another of the dissident's lawyers, Li Jinsong, said he had met Hu's parents on Thursday. They had said Hu was in good health and had not mentioned the formal arrest, Li Jinsong said.
    "It's a procedural step. Their intentions are clear enough already," he said of China's security authorities.
    Hu's varied activism has set him on a collision course with the Communist Party, which has stepped up curbs on non-government groups, the media, the Internet, lawyers, academics and civil rights campaigners to maintain controls before the Games which take place in August.