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    April 09, 2019

    Responding to the guilty verdicts for “public nuisance” against nine leaders of the 2014 pro-democracy Umbrella Movement protests in Hong Kong, Man-kei Tam, Director of Amnesty International Hong Kong said:

    “Today’s guilty verdicts are a crushing blow for freedom of expression and peaceful protest in Hong Kong. The government has used vague charges in their relentless persecution of the Umbrella Nine.

    “The government is increasingly using prosecutions as a political tool to target peaceful activists, abusing the law to silence debate about sensitive issues such as Hong Kong democracy and autonomy. We urge the government to cease this chilling assault against people legitimately exercising their right to freedom of expression.”

    Background

    Among the nine activists convicted at West Kowloon Magistrates’ Courts are the co-founders of the “Occupy Central” campaign – legal scholar Professor Benny Tai Yiu-ting, sociologist Professor Chan Kin-man and retired pastor Reverend Chu Yiu-ming. 

    April 01, 2019

    To see a loved one wrongfully detained is a painful ordeal. But to not know where they are detained, or if they are even alive at all, is even harder.

    This is the situation faced by hundreds of Uighurs, Kazakhs and other ethnic Muslim people living overseas while their relatives languish in Chinese political detention camps.

    To make matters worse, their desperate search for information is being hindered by their own family members still in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region (XUAR). This is not because those relatives don’t want to help; instead, it’s because they fear cooperating could mean they are the next ones sent to the notorious camps.

    “Transformation-through-education centres” is the euphemistic term the Chinese government prefers to use for these facilities. It claims the individuals held there receive “vocational training” to help them with their “radical thoughts”.

    Terrified to talk

    March 05, 2019

    Responding to reports by The Intercept that Google is still working on Project Dragonfly, its censored search engine for China, Anna Bacciarelli, AI and Big Data Researcher and Adviser at Amnesty Tech, said:

    “The lack of transparency around the development of Dragonfly is very disturbing. We continue to call on Google’s CEO Sundar Pichai to publicly confirm that it has dropped Dragonfly for good, not just ‘for now’. Our Secretary General Kumi Naidoo visited Google’s Mountain View office last week to reiterate our concerns over Dragonfly, including the apparent disregard for transparency and accountability around the project.

    “If Google is still developing Project Dragonfly, it’s not only failing on its human rights responsibilities but ignoring the hundreds of Google employees, 70+ human rights organisations and hundreds of thousands of campaign supporters around the world who have all called on the company to respect human rights and drop Dragonfly.”
     

    February 04, 2019

     The United Nations Human Rights Council should adopt a resolution establishing an international fact-finding mission to Xinjiang, the region of China where up to one million Turkic Muslims are being arbitrarily detained, a group of nongovernmental organizations said in a joint statement to UN member states today. During the next session of the Human Rights Council, from February 25 to March 22, 2019, the Council will consider the outcome report of China’s November 2018 Universal Periodic Review, at which Chinese officials denied allegations of grave human rights violations in Xinjiang.

    February 01, 2019

    Responding to a Hong Kong judicial review that upheld the government’s policy of forcing transgender people to undergo surgery before having their gender legally recognized, Man-kei Tam, Director of Amnesty International Hong Kong, commented:

     “Today’s judgment is a blow for the recognition of transgender people. It is a missed opportunity to address the discrimination transgender people in Hong Kong face.

    “No one should be forced to undergo gender affirming surgery in order to have their gender legally recognized. We urge the government to do the right thing and end this discriminatory and highly intrusive policy irrespective of today’s ruling.

    “The government should also swiftly introduce comprehensive legislation against discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation, gender identity or intersex status.”

    Background

    Henry Edward Tse, Q and R are three transgender men born female. They sought a judicial review after the government refused to legally recognize his gender unless he underwent gender affirming surgery. They feared such medical treatment would damage their health.  

    January 29, 2019

    Responding to the five-year prison sentence imposed by a Chinese court against Liu Feiyue, founder of human rights website “Civil Rights and Livelihood Watch, for “inciting subversion of state power”, Patrick Poon, China Researcher at Amnesty International, commented:

    “Today’s deplorable verdict against Liu Feiyue has nothing to do with justice. He is the latest victim of the Chinese government’s sustained assault against those defending human rights. He is a Prisoner of Conscience who must be immediately and unconditionally released.

    “Through his website, Liu Feiyue shone a light on the human rights violations faced by many people in China. But instead of addressing these abuses when they are exposed, the authorities have instead decided to unjustly silence Liu Feiyue.  He should not have been prosecuted nor spent a single day in prison for solely exercising his right to freedom of expression.” 

    Background

    January 28, 2019

    Responding to the 4 and a half years prison sentence handed down by a Chinese court to human rights lawyer Wang Quanzhang, who was found guilty of “subverting state power”, Doriane Lau, China Researcher at Amnesty International, commented:

    “Today’s verdict is a gross injustice. It’s outrageous that Wang Quanzhang is being punished for peacefully standing up for human rights in China. He must be immediately and unconditionally released.

    “In the three years leading up to his sham of a trial, the authorities disappeared Wang Quanzhang into a black hole, where he was likely tortured. Wang’s family, who continue to be harassed by the authorities, didn’t even know if he was alive until recently. His continued imprisonment only prolongs their suffering.”

    Background

    Wang Quanzhang was the last lawyer awaiting a verdict in connection with the Chinese government’s mass crackdown in 2015, which targeted nearly 250 human rights lawyers and activists.

    January 24, 2019

    Responding to the Chinese authorities’ confirmation that Australian-Chinese writer Yang Hengjun has been detained on suspicion of “endangering national security”, Joshua Rosenzweig, East Asia Research Director at Amnesty International commented:

    “The Chinese authorities have serious questions to answer over the detention of Yang Hengjun, but it could be months before we find out anything more about his condition or what they’re accusing him of doing.

    “If it’s true that Yang is being held under ‘residential surveillance in a designated location’, then there is cause for serious concern over his wellbeing. Facing up to six months in incommunicado detention at an unknown location with no contact with the outside world, Yang Hengjun is at grave risk of torture and other ill-treatment.

    “These conditions are simply unacceptable. We urge Chinese officials to be transparent, disclose where he is held and grant Yang Hengjun immediate access to both a lawyer of his choosing and Australian consular officials. There are no excuses for the Chinese authorities to deny Yang these rights.”

    January 23, 2019
    DOWNLOAD PDF OF UA 7/19 HERE

    Robert Lloyd Schellenberg, a Canadian national, was sentenced to death after he was convicted of drug trafficking at his re-trial. 

    First arrested on 3 December 2014, he was convicted and sentenced to 15 years’ imprisonment by the Dalian Municipal Intermediate People’s Court on 20 November 2018. Schellenberg subsequently appealed the verdict. The Liaoning High People’s Court heard his case on 29 December 2018 and considered new evidence. It ordered a full retrial on the grounds that the 15-year sentence was too lenient. The Dalian Municipal Intermediate People’s Court held a retrial on Schellenberg’s case on 14 January 2019. He was found guilty of a more serious drug-related offence, and sentenced to death. Announcing a death sentence at the same time of the conviction instead of on a later date was unprecedented, according to Mo Shaoping, a partner of the law firm representing Schellenberg.

    January 15, 2019

    Responding to a death sentence given by a Chinese court to Canadian citizen Robert Schellenberg for drug smuggling, William Nee, China researcher at Amnesty International, commented: 

    “The death sentence given to Robert Schellenberg does not deliver justice. We urge the Chinese authorities to revoke this sentence. Drug-related offences do not meet international standards for the use of capital punishment.

    "China's death penalty system is shrouded in secrecy, which contributes to why many will be questioning the timing of this decision. We have seen before that in highly politicized cases the trial is often a mere spectacle with the outcome already decided.

    “The sudden re-trial and apparent rush to judgment has highlighted the numerous flaws in China’s judicial system. We hope that Robert Schellenberg and his defence counsel are given adequate time to prepare and respond to the prosecution’s new evidence when the case is finally brought up for appeal."

    Background 

    January 09, 2019

    DROP PROJECT DRAGONFLY

    Google publicly exited the search engine market in China in 2010, citing restrictions to freedom of expression online. Since then, the Chinese government has strengthened its controls over the internet and intensified its crackdown on freedom of expression. 

    Indicating a reversal in strategy, Google is now preparing to re-enter the Chinese search engine market, and is developing a new, search engine app codenamed “Dragonfly” that would facilitate China’s online censorship and surveillance. This would represent an alarming capitulation by Google on human rights, and a dark day for internet freedom as it would legitimize China’s model of internet repression for other governments and set a precedent for tech companies compromising human rights in exchange for access to new markets.

    It has been reported in the media that Google is now planning to drop its Dragonfly project. While this is amazing news, it isn't confirmed yet, so we intend to keep the pressure on until it it official.

    December 26, 2018

    The trial of Chinese human rights lawyer Wang Quanzhang is a cruel charade and he should be immediately and unconditionally released, Amnesty International said.

    Wang is one of the few lawyers still held in detention after the Chinese government’s mass crackdown in 2015, which targeted nearly 250 lawyers and activists. He is on trial at the Tianjin Municipal No.2 Intermediate People’s Court accused of “subverting state power,” which carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

    “This is a sham trial in which Wang Quanzhang is being persecuted only for peacefully defending human rights,” said Doriane Lau, China researcher at Amnesty International.

    “Wang Quanzhang has already been unjustly held for more than three years, during which his family suffered the anguish of not knowing whether he was alive until recently. He must be immediately and unconditionally released.”

    Wang was taken away by police on 3 August 2015. It was only in July 2018 that his family learnt from a trusted lawyer that Wang Quanzhang was alive and being held in Tianjin.

    December 17, 2018

     “Going ahead with Project Dragonfly would represent a massive capitulation on human rights by one of the world’s most powerful companies” – Kumi Naidoo

    Responding to media reports that Google is planning to shut down Project Dragonfly, its controversial censored search app for China, Kumi Naidoo, Amnesty International’s Secretary General, said:

    “Media reports that Google is shelving Dragonfly follow intense criticism of the project from human rights groups and Google’s own staff. 

    “We would welcome a decision by Google to drop Dragonfly and abandon its plans to cooperate in large-scale censorship and surveillance by the Chinese government.

    “Going ahead with Project Dragonfly would represent a massive capitulation on human rights by one of the world’s most powerful companies.

    “It’s worrying that these reports suggest that Project Dragonfly has been shelved due to discrepancies over internal process, rather than over human rights concerns.

    November 27, 2018

    Want a job at Google?
    (To apply you’ll need good coding skills… and absolutely no morals).


    watch video

    In 2010, the largest search engine in the world made a promise not to support China’s censorship of the internet. But it was recently revealed that Google is preparing to break its promise.

    Google has been working on a secretive program to re-launch its search engine in China code-named Google Dragonfly - even if it means cooperating with the Chinese government’s repressive online censorship and surveillance.

    November 16, 2018
    Trial of nine Umbrella Movement leaders due to start on Monday

    The Hong Kong government must drop the politically motivated prosecution of nine leaders of the 2014 pro-democracy Umbrella Movement protests, as it amounts to an attack on free speech and peaceful assembly, Amnesty International said ahead of the start of their trial on Monday.

    Among the nine activists facing trial at West Kowloon Magistrates’ Courts are the co-founders of the “Occupy Central” campaign – legal scholar Professor Benny Tai Yiu-ting, sociologist Professor Chan Kin-man and retired pastor Reverend Chu Yiu-ming – who each face a maximum penalty of seven years’ imprisonment if convicted. Six other defendants in the case include student leaders, lawmakers and political party leaders.

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