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    January 25, 2014

    Posted at 0001 GMT 26 January 2014

    The jailing of prominent Chinese legal scholar and activist Xu Zhiyong is a travesty and he should be released immediately, said Amnesty International.

    A court in Beijing sentenced Xu Zhiyong to four years in prison on Sunday for “gathering a crowd to disturb order in a public place.”

    Roseann Rife, East Asia Research Director at Amnesty International, commented:

    “This is a shameful but sadly predictable verdict. The Chinese authorities have once again opted for the rule of fear over the rule of law.

    “At best the injustice of prosecuting Xu Zhiyong is hypocrisy of the highest order. On the surface his calls to expose corruption coincide with President Xi Jinping’s own much heralded clampdown.

    “But the message sent from the courtroom today runs far deeper: In Xi Jinping’s China the Communist Party maintains a monopoly on the political process and anyone that speaks out will be severely dealt with.

    January 21, 2014

    The Chinese authorities must immediately release prominent activist Xu Zhiyong, whose trial is due to start in Beijing on Wednesday, Amnesty International said.

    Xu Zhiyong wrote an article in May 2012, titled China Needs a New Citizens’ Movement, which is credited with spurring a loose network of activists who aim to promote government transparency and expose corruption.

    Several other activists are also due to be tried later this week in connection with the New Citizens Movement.

    “Instead of President Xi Jinping’s promised clamp-down on corruption, we are seeing a crackdown against those that want to expose it. The persecution of activists associated with the New Citizens Movement has to end,” said Roseann Rife, East Asia Research Director at Amnesty International.

    A highly regarded legal scholar, Xu Zhiyong has been detained in Beijing since July. He faces charges of “gathering a crowd to disturb order in a public place.” He faces up to five years in jail if convicted.

    December 16, 2013

    Released at 00:01 GMT 17 December 2013

    China’s abolition of the “Re-education Through Labour” (RTL) system risks being no more than a cosmetic change, with authorities already stepping up other forms of persecution, Amnesty International said in a briefing released today.

    While RTL camps are being shut down, the briefing details how the Chinese authorities are increasingly making use of so-called “black jails”, enforced drug rehabilitation centres, and “brainwashing centres” to take their place.

    “Abolishing the RTL system is a step in the right direction. However, it now appears that it may only be a cosmetic change just to avert the public outcry over the abusive RTL system where torture was rife,” said Corinna-Barbara Francis, Amnesty International’s China Researcher.

    “It’s clear that the underlying policies of punishing people for their political activities or religious beliefs haven’t changed. The abuses and torture are continuing, just in a different way.”

    November 15, 2013

    China’s reported decision to abolish "re-education through labour" (RTL) camps nationwide will be little more than a cosmetic measure unless the authorities tackle the deeply entrenched abuses of the country’s overall detention system, Amnesty International.

    “‘Re-education through labour’ camps are just one piece in the intricate network of arbitrary detention centres used by the Chinese government to punish individuals who exercise their human rights in ways the authorities find threatening,” said Corinna-Barbara Francis, China researcher at Amnesty International.

    “While abolishing the RTL system is a big step in the right direction, the reality is that the authorities are finding new ways to punish the same types of people, including sending them to other types of arbitrary detention, such as the so-called ‘brain washing centres’ and ‘black jails’.”

    October 09, 2013

    Chinese authorities must end excessive use of force against peaceful Tibetan protesters, Amnesty International said after police fired on and injured dozens of demonstrators.

    Reports emerged today that Chinese police had opened fire on Tibetan protesters in the town of Diriu in the Tibet Autonomous Region on 6 October, injuring at least 60 people, some seriously. It is unclear if the police used live ammunition or tear gas.

    “It is outrageous for the police to start firing on a peaceful gathering. This latest incident shows that the Chinese authorities have done nothing to reign in excessive use of force by their security forces or to increase respect for Tibetans’ right to freedom of peaceful assembly,” said Corinna-Barbara Francis, Amnesty International’s China Researcher.

    There have even been reports that some of those seriously injured were denied medical care for several days, at least one of whom is still in very critical condition.

    October 09, 2013

    Housing rights activist Ni Yulan was released on October 5th, after serving two years and six months in Tiantanghe Women's Prison in Beijing. She has been reunited with her family, including her husband Dong Jiqin, who was released from prison on April 5th.

    Thank you to more than 10,000 Canadians, and Amnesty International supporters worldwide who spoke out to press for her freedom.

    This news is especially welcome following the very harsh treatment Ni Yulan has experienced at the hands of Chinese authorities.

    Ni Yulan's story

    Ni Yulan has defended people who have been forcibly evicted from their homes by housing developers across China esepcially in the leadup to the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, when there was massive urban re-development and forced evictions.

    She herself was also evicted, and watched her home get demolished shortly before the Beijing Olympic Games, when there was massive development and forced evictions.

    September 11, 2013

    Chinese authorities must stop imminent plans to forcibly evict the last remaining residents of the village of Ba Gou just outside of Beijing, Amnesty International said.

    Their homes are to be demolished to make way for a commercial development, and those under threat include a housing rights activist and her family.

    “The local government should immediately halt all efforts to forcibly evict the people of Ba Gou, and also provide adequate compensation to the thousands who have already lost their homes in the village,” said Catherine Baber, Amnesty International’s Asia Pacific Director

    Since 2003, more than 5,000 households have been evicted from the village Ba Gou amid intimidation and threats of violence. Han Ying, a prominent campaigner against the evictions and demolitions, has been repeatedly targeted by the authorities.

    She told Amnesty International that  since July, Ba Gou village had received frequent visits by unidentified men in police uniforms and hired thugs who threatened to demolish houses. Han Ying’s elderly mother was injured on 16 August in one confrontation with police who tried to tear down buildings.

    September 09, 2013

    Shi Tao was released on 23 August 23, 2013. Shi Tao served eight years and four months in prison, and his sentence was reduced by 15 months.

    Thank you to everyone who wrote on behalf of Shi Tao. His case was featured prominently in Write for Rights 2007, when Amnesty International supporters worldwide wrote letters on December 10th, International Human Rights Day, urging his release.

    A journalist and poet, Shi Tao was sentenced in 2004 to a 10-year prison sentence for sending an email summarizing a Chinese Central Propaganda Department communiqué on how journalists should handle the 15th anniversary of the crackdown on the 1989 pro-democracy movement.

    Following his release, Shi Tao told Amnesty that his life is getting back to normal. He is recovering and resting right now. A lot of friends have visited him and he has not faced any restrictions on his movements since his release. 

    He shares these words of thanks to members of Amnesty International:

    July 15, 2013

    Set-backs to China’s new criminal procedure law, which came into effect on 1 January 2013, are legalizing violations of human rights, and the limited improvements to the law are not being respected, Amnesty International said in a new briefing released today.

    “It is frustrating that after so many years in the making, the legal changes that took place in the beginning of the year are now legalizing some of the worst practices on the part of police and local authorities,” said Corinna-Barbara Francis, Amnesty International’s China Researcher.

    Under the new law the police are allowed to detain individuals, and to hold some in secret locations for up to six months, without telling family members why or where they are being held.

    June 14, 2013

    There are growing fears about the fate of a prominent Chinese photographer and journalist who has not been heard from since security police reportedly detained him at his home in Beijing late last month, Amnesty International said.

    Du Bin is a photographer and documentary maker who has done extensive work – including a recent film – to uncover torture and other ill-treatment at China’s re-education through labour camps.

    He has also worked as a freelance photographer for The New York Times and in late May he published a book, Tiananmen Massacre, on the violent military crackdown on peaceful pro-democracy demonstrators in Beijing in June 1989.

    “The timing of Du Bin’s detention leaves little doubt that he is being targeted by the Chinese authorities for his courageous work to expose human rights abuses in the country,” said Catherine Baber, Amnesty International’s Asia Programme Director.

    April 24, 2013

    The Chinese authorities must release the sister-in-law of a prominent human rights activist and end the ongoing harassment of his relatives living in Shandong Province, Amnesty International said.

    On Wednesday afternoon Linyi city authorities detained Ren Zongju – sister-in-law of Chinese legal activist Chen Guangcheng. She was accused of “harbouring” her son, Chen Kegui, last year after he allegedly assaulted security officials. The officers had been searching for his uncle, Chen Guangcheng, after he escaped illegal house arrest.

    Before her latest detention, Ren Zongju was previously held and then released on bail.

    “This new detention – a full year after Chen Guangcheng’s escape – seems aimed at punishing him and his family for his continued outspoken criticism of the Chinese government since leaving China,” said Catherine Baber, Asia-Pacific Programme Director at Amnesty International.

    “Ren Zongju must be either charged with an internationally recognized criminal offence or released immediately.”

    String of harassment

    March 14, 2013

    Mao Hengfeng, a human rights defender in China, was released on February 8, 2013 to serve the rest of her term at home.

    She had been sentenced to "Re-education Through Labor" on October 30, 2012. It was the latest in a series of detentions dating back to 2004 because of her work standing up for human rights.

    Mao wants to thank everyone who campaigned on her behalf. Her husband Wu Xuewei believes she is now home again due to the international and domestic calls for her release.

    Mao Hengfeng, who suffers from poor health, is now resting at home with her family. She told us how on September 30th last year she was in Beijing to celebrate the Mid-Autumn festival. While there, she was followed by 20 men in plain clothes. She tried to hide, but they found her and punched and kicked her and pushed her to the ground. She was forced into a van and taken to Yangpu police station in Shanghai for questioning. A month later she was sentenced.

    During her detention she was held in solitary confinement in a dark cell without windows and was not given access to clean hot water until her health worsened.

    February 27, 2013

    We received the good news that Gao Zhisheng was granted a visit by his family on February 12th!  His wife Geng He has written this message that she would like to pass on to all who have been working on Amnesty's campaign to free Gao::

    "Following a Letter-Writing Marathon ('Write for Rights') organized by Amnesty International at the end of last year and the international community’s actions, the family of the Gao Zhisheng was granted a second prison visit on 12 January of this year. It is a small improvement, but it could not be achieved without the international community’s concerns and the effort and support from the membership of Amnesty International, for which my family and I feel most grateful. I hope Amnesty International will continue to promote this activity, allowing more people to come to know my husband’s situation, until he gains his freedom."

    While it is very difficult to know exactly what led to the prison visit being granted, the huge amount of action generated by the Write for Rights may have contributed, and has definitely been greatly appreciated by his family.

    January 23, 2013

    A Chinese woman who beat her husband to death with a gun after suffering months of domestic violence should not be executed, Amnesty International urged on Wednesday.

    Li Yan, 41, from Sichuan province in South West China could be executed any day between now and the Chinese New Year in early February.

    “Justice is not served by executing Li Yan.  Amnesty International calls upon the Chinese authorities to commute her death sentence to a term of imprisonment,” said Roseann Rife, Head of East Asia at Amnesty International. Li was sentenced to death in August 2011 for the murder of her husband, Tan Yong, in late 2010.

    Tan inflicted frequent beatings on his wife, he cut off one of her fingers, stubbed cigarettes out on her face and during the freezing Sichuan winters locked her outside on the balcony of their apartment for several hours with little clothing.

    The prolonged violence at the hands of her husband began not long after the couple were married in early 2009.

    Li Yan contacted the authorities, including the police, on several occasions to seek protection and required hospital treatment after one attack.

    November 12, 2012

    Lui Xiaobo is the co-author of Charter 08 which calls for effective protection of universal human rights and democratic reform. The Court considered Charter 08 “slanderous” and an attempt to incite the subversion of the current regime. In six articles, Liu Xiaobo criticized corruption, censorship and one-party rule and advocated developing a democratic multi party political system. The Court considered this ”rumour mongering, slander and smear” which exceeded the limits of freedom of expression, constituting a criminal offence.

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