3/27/2008

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China

Area: 9,598,050 sq.km.
Population: 1,304,196,000
Language: Mandarin
Head of state: Hu Jintao

China - Annual report 2005

The government continued its privatisation of the media and kept up its ruthless harassment of reformist journalists. The written press, experiencing competition for the first time, took some chances but was monitored and sanctioned by the propaganda department. With at least 27 journalists in prison, China was at 1st January 2005, the world’s largest prison for journalists.

"China is deprived of the right to press freedom, does not permit political divergence and bans all media independence. Its political progress lags well behind its economic development and evolving attitudes," said the intellectual Liu Xiaobo, winner of the Reporters Without Borders - Fondation de France 2004 press freedom award.
A flourishing written press is monitored by the Propaganda Department, now renamed the Publicity Department. Newspaper editors enjoy every freedom to boost profits, through advertising, updating their publications or even raising capital on the stock exchange. But they have to fall in with the orders of the communist party and ensure that their staff operate a system of self-censorship.
The Beijing Youth Daily, China’s second highest circulation newspaper was quoted on the Hong Kong stock exchange in December 2004. But the newspaper remains under the control of the Communist Youth League. Its editor explains its success thus, "As long as we respect the law, we can report on what interests people." This forced privatisation has pushed more than 600 publications into closure while the system of compulsory subscriptions to the official press is on its way out.



The government has deployed huge resources to maintain the monopoly of state radio and television CCTV and the press agency Xinhua. Systems such as a "great wall of sound" allowing it to scramble international radio were stepped up. With the help of French company Thalès, ALLISS aerials were set up in every corner of the country to block foreign radio waves. The few Chinese television stations that criticise the government, on cable or satellite, have been harassed. New Tang Dynasty TV (NTDTV), accused of supporting the Falungong movement, has been targeted by the Beijing authorities since its launch in February 2002. The operator of New Skies Satellites buckled under constant pressure and ended the channel’s broadcasts in China. And Chinese diplomats leaned on their French counterparts once NDTV was again beamed into Asia via the Paris-based Eutelsat W5 satellite. In July, the administration launched a campaign against the installation of illegal satellite dishes to block broadcast of "reactionary, violent and pornographic" programmes. Thousands of dishes have already been removed from homes.

Fear is also a useful instrument of control for the communist party. Such was the case with the arrest of management figures on the reformist daily Nanfang Dushi Bao that sent a shock wave through the profession. The nearly six months of detention experienced by Cheng Yizhong, star editor of this bold Guangdong-based newspaper, reminded everyone of the lines not to cross. The newspaper had carried an investigation about a student who was tortured to death in a Guangdong police station and revealed a new case of the Sars epidemic in the city without waiting for official permission. Cheng Yizhong was released but expelled from the communist party and did not get his job back. Two of his colleagues, Yu Huafeng and Li Minying, who were handed down harsh prison sentences, are still in prison.
National and international protests probably contributed to the release in 2004 of Liu Jingsheng, founder of the underground review Tansuo (Exploration), after 12 years in prison, and that of South Korean photographer Jae-hyun Seok, sentenced to two years for his coverage of North Korean refugees in China, and the reduction in sentence for journalist Wu Shishen sentenced to life imprisonment in April 1993, on the orders of the former president Jiang Zemin for having "illegally divulged state secrets".
On the other hand, nothing could prevent journalist Yu Dongyue, detained after the Tiananmen Square demonstrations in 1989, from descending into madness. A former fellow inmate, who fled China, said the journalist had been tied to an electric post and left in the hot sun for several days and then held in solitary confinement for two years.

Police continued to harass dissident journalists, including Shi Tao who was arrested on 24 November 2004 for having "divulged confidential state intelligence". Police raided his home without official authorisation, arrested him and seized his computer and papers. Before leaving they warned his wife not to tell anyone, particularly not the media, or her husband would be maltreated.
The most common sanctions are dismissal or being sidelined at work. This was the experience of Xiao Weibi, editor of the magazine Tong Zhou Gong Jin, who was sacked in September for carrying an interview with a former communist party leader in Quangdong, who backed political reform. Five of the six members of the magazine’s advisory committee resigned in protest. Wang Guangze, of the bi-weekly Ershiyi shiji jingji baodao, was sidelined by the newspaper on 23 November, after returning from a visit to the United States.
Defamation cases and physical attacks are a new means of applying pressure favoured by local authorities and private companies. Dozens of journalists have been brought before the courts or received visits from henchmen when they show too much interest in investigating fraud in a country that is riddled with corruption.

Press freedom’s number one enemy is however the Publicity Department, which is under the direct control of the communist party central committee. Unable to censor everything, it regularly orders journalists not to write about the more sensitive political and social issues. It is also responsible for ensuring silence on the major taboo subjects. Fifteen years after the Tiananmen Square massacre, it is still forbidden to use the term "4 June" in the press or online. Censors have their fingers permanently on the off switch ready to cut off foreign television broadcasts. At any mention of the event, or indeed many other subjects, screens are blacked out in hotel rooms and homes of foreign residents - the only ones to have legal access to TV channels such as CNN or BBC. Numerous events attracted censorship last year and included pro-democracy demonstrations in Hong Kong, the serial killer Ma Jiajue, rioting between Han Chinese and Muslims in Henan Province, strikes in the north-east and so on...
The Publicity Department also aims to keep dissident and other intellectual critics out of the press through a blacklist. In November, it ordered the official media not to publish articles from six reformist political commentators, particularly Jiao Guobiao, who in March posted an online tract in which he said, "The Propaganda Ministry has become a bastion of stupidity and of China’s most retrograde forces (...) If it is allowed to do damage with impunity, it will delay the progress of Chinese political culture and completely discredit millions of Chinese intellectuals. That is why one should rise up against the Propaganda Ministry and attack it".
With three years to go to the Beijing Olympics in 2008, the Chinese authorities have not always kept their promise to allow foreign journalists to work freely. As well as blocking dozens of foreign news site, public security closely watches foreign correspondents and has no hesitation in arresting, threatening or striking those who violate the sacrosanct "Guide for correspondents working in China". In August, journalists working for British daily The Guardian and Finland’s Helsingin Sanomat were arrested for breaching Article 15 of the guide that bans conducting interviews without prior authorisation. In February, police just outside Beijing arrested a crew from French TV channel France 2 for filming poultry immunisations during the bird flu epidemic. Before releasing them, police forced them to sign a paper in which they acknowledged they had been "filming secretly". Police beat up foreign press photographers covering a football match in August.
The Beijing authorities have also attempted to get the Hong Kong media to fall into step with the rest of China. Since October, the Chinese national anthem has been played for every news bulletin. Threats against three well known radio presenters, with links to the democratic opposition, forced them to resign at the start of the year.
Despite everything, the press has grown bolder in challenging officials about social issues and disasters such as the death of 166 miners in Shaanxi Province in November. "Why are the unions struck dumb when there are accidents in the mines?" asked a headline in the daily Dahe Bao in Henan Province.
Courageous editors have been urging their reporters to shake off their fears. Before his arrest, Cheng Yizhong rallied his staff with the following remarks: "Our work has nothing of the commonplace about it. Our cause is to move heaven and earth (...) It is a steep road to the pinnacle of the Chinese press. Our ambition, our extraordinary idealism clashes with the ugliness and dirtiness of social reality." But fear stalked the profession again after the conviction on 20 October for "divulging state secrets" of Zhao Yan, who worked with the US daily, the New York Times, previously a respected journalist on the weekly Reform in China. He risks the death penalty.

In 2004...

- 17 journalists were arrested
- 65 media censored
- 3 repressive laws passed

Personal account

"China denied freedom of expression"

Former university professor Liu Xiaobo has one unshakeable view: China’s press has to turn itself into a counter-balance to the all-powerful Chinese Communist Party. It is his belief in this universal principle that fuels his tireless struggle, his calls for the release of imprisoned journalists and dissidents and his posting of articles online, in Hong Kong newspapers and in Chinese newspapers abroad. He was the 2004 laureate of the Reporters Without Borders and Fondation de France press freedom prize.

Even though China’s communist powers are shifting, at least in their public statements, from rejecting to recognising human rights, China’s human rights record cannot give rise to any optimism. Especially where press freedom in concerned, China remains a police state that holds a media monopoly and keeps a tight rein on public opinion.
China is denied freedom of expression, does not allow political divergence and bans all media independence. Its political progress lags well behind its economic development and evolving attitudes. The country is caught between two extremes, not only that of wealth and poverty but also between its politics and its economy. It is in a dangerous state that is worsening daily. It is a situation on which Chinese people themselves must reflect but which also demands the attention of the international community.
Faced with the complexities of modern international relations and China’s fast growing economy, some politicians in western countries - both cradle and defenders of freedom - have abandoned their principles for the pursuit of profit. At a time when, awed by the scale of the Chinese market and the lure of profit, they forget China’s disastrous human rights situation, Reporters Without Borders fights tirelessly for the ideal of universal justice that is the defence of press freedom. Through your actions, you have shown yourselves worthy of your name, in your belief that press freedom has no borders and that its defence and the fight against the notion of ’an offence of opinion’ have no borders either.
You have never stopped caring about Chinese prisoners of conscience. You have encouraged Chinese people who dare to speak the truth in the face of a dictatorial power.
In the official Chinese media, friends who have dared speak out have been sentenced by the Communist power. But thanks to the globalisation of the news and the Internet they have won the support, praise and blessing of civil society and international opinion. The prize that I receive today, even if awarded to me personally, is more particularly a prize awarded to the cause of press freedom in China.
China’s freedom has to be the fruit of the efforts of Chinese people themselves but it cannot happen without the continued support of international justice. To finish, I would like to stress this: Whoever wants to fight for freedom under a terror regime, must first speak out publicly in order to conquer his inner terror. You must never turn yourself into a dumb subject, only capable of submitting to force but become a citizen knowing how to express himself independently. Faced with a strong power that forbids freedom, it is essential to become a free man, so as to speak and to act.

China Cyber-dissident Gets 6 Years in Prison For Views His Express

Posted by chinaview on March 19, 2007

Reporters Without Borders, 19 March 2007-

Reporters Without Borders voiced dismay on learning that cyber-dissident Zhang Jianhong, who is also known by the pen-name of Li Hong, was sentenced today to six years in prison by a court in Ningbo, in the eastern province of Zhejiang. He has appealed against the sentence.

A member of the Chinese branch of the independent writers association PEN, Zhang was arrested in September 2006 and was charged the following month with “incitement to subvert the state’s authority” for calling for political reform in articles posted on the Internet. Two other cyber-dissidents who were arrested six months ago, Chen Shuqing and Yang Maodong, are still awaiting trial.

“This verdict is sadly yet another example of the judicial system being used by the political authorities,” Reporters Without Borders said. “It is outrageous that cyber-dissidents get severe prison sentences just for the views they express. Yet again, they are being made to pay a heavy price for their commitment. After Zhang’s conviction, we fear that the same fate is in store for Chen and Yang.”

According to the New China news agency, Zhang was convicted of writing “articles defaming the Chinese government and calling for agitation to overthrow the government.” The court said it was showing clemency to the defendant, who posted around 100 articles on the Internet from May to September 2006, because he expressed remorse during the trial.

Aged 48, Zhang founded the literary website Aiqinhai.org in August 2005 and was its editor until the authorities shut it down in March 2006. He also wrote regularly for sites such as Boxun and The Epoch Times. He already spent a year and a half in a reeducation-through-work camp for “counter-revolutionary propaganda” after getting involved in the 1989 pro-democracy movement.

Chen’s case has been sent back to the police for further investigation. A member of the banned China Democracy Party (CDP), he was charged on 17 October 2006 with “incitement to subvert the state’s authority.” He was already detained for four months in 1999 for helping to create the CDP.

Better known as Guo Feixiong, Yang was arrested on 14 September 2006. A lawyer, writer and human rights activist, he has been accused of “illegal business activity.” He was previously arrested for “disturbing the peace” after a rally on 13 September 2005 in the village of Taishi (in Guangdong province).

- original report from Reporters Without Borders









China: One dream, One prison

Posted by chinaview on January 14, 2008

by Lindsey Hilsum, Channel 4, UK, 11 Jan 2008-

She’s the Chinese blogger who’s been dubbed “Tiananmen 2.0″ and was selected for the TIME 100 list of heroes and pioneers. Lindsey Hilsum writes on the day she had to shout to Zeng Jinyan through a barred window.

I last saw Zeng Jinyan in December, a month after her baby was born. Jinyan is a sparrow-like woman, who looks even younger than her 24 years. She was in love.

Her mother looked on indulgently as Jinyan told my friend Bessie and me how beautiful the baby was, how perfect, how exceptional - until she giggled in embarrassment at her own enthusiasm.

We saw her again today.

She stood at the window of her fourth floor flat, behind the burglar bars, holding herZeng Jinyan and her baby sleeping daughter and shouting to us below. We couldn’t go in, because Jinyan is now under house arrest.

(photo by Channel 4)

Her slightly nerdy-looking bespectacled husband, Hu Jia, was arrested on December 27th and charged with “incitement to subvert state power,” a charge known as “counter revolution” in the bad old days.

Jinyan said the police cut her telephone line, and took her computer, mobile phone and bank card. Her mother is able to go and buy food, but they’re running out of cash. Friends who try to bring things for the baby are blocked.

For several days, the police camped in her flat - she protested and now they’re outside the door, day and night.

It’s hard to see how this couple, who seem like rather earnest and maybe naïve students, are a threat to the Chinese state. Hu Jia, who’s 33, started by campaigning for people with AIDS. Jinyan was catapulted into the spotlight in 2006, soon after their marriage, when he was first arrested.

She started a blog about her quest to find her husband and suddenly she was more famous then he. In 2006, Time magazine put her in their top 100 influential people in the world.

The Chinese government targets Hu Jia and Zeng Jinyan because they join the dots. They use the internet to express their opinion that issues like land rights and AIDS are indivisible - the fundamental problem in China is the abuse of power by the state and Communist Party officials.

The government can tolerate isolated protests, but it knows that if one angry community makes common cause with another, that could become a nation-wide movement. The only national organisation allowed in China is the Party.

The Chinese government is determined to show China in a good light during the Olympics this August. The slogan is “One World, One Dream”, the idea that China is a leader amongst civilised peoples, a full member of the community of nations.

It’s all about giving a good impression - there are campaigns to stop taxi drivers from eating garlic, and pedestrians from spitting in the street.

Earlier this week we watched Olympic hostesses being put through their paces - learning to smile showing only six to eight teeth, stand up straight (with an English grammar book on their heads) and bow while presenting a medal.

The government’s fear is that people like Hu Jia and Zeng Jinyan will spoil the party by presenting a bad image of China to the world - their solution is to lock them up.

But that will cause far more trouble. The images which will resonate around the world are not the identikit young women in immaculate uniforms learning to walk gracefully, but one young woman holding a tiny baby, shouting through the bars that they took her husband away and have imprisoned her at home.

Annual Press Freedom Report 2008

REPORTERS WITHOUT BORDERS CRITICISES LACK OF PUBLIC COMMITMENT TO PRESS FREEDOM AND FEARS ANTI-MEDIA VIOLENCE IN COMING MONTHS

The plight of journalists in 98 countries reviewed.

Reporters Without Borders today accused public officials around the world of "impotence, cowardice and duplicity" in defending freedom of expression.

"The spinelessness of some Western countries and major international bodies is harming press freedom," secretary-general Robert M鮡rd said in the organisation's annual press freedom report, out today (13 February) and available at www.rsf.org. "The lack of determination by democratic countries in defending the values they supposedly stand for is alarming."

He charged that the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva had caved in to pressure from countries such as Iran and Uzbekistan and expressed concern at the softness of the European Union towards dictators who did not flinch at the threat of European sanctions.

The report's introduction listed problems expected in the coming year, especially physical attacks on journalists during key elections in Pakistan (18 February), Russia (2 March), Iran (14 March) and Zimbabwe (29 March).

The worldwide press freedom organisation voiced concern about the safety of journalists covering fighting in Sri Lanka, the Palestinian Territories, Somalia, Niger, Chad and especially Iraq, where it said "journalists continue to be buried almost every week."

It also protested against censorship of new media (mobile phones transmitting photos and film and video-sharing and social networking websites) and highlighted media repression in China in the run-up to the Olympic Games there this summer.

"Nobody apart from the International Olympic Committee seems to believe the government will make a significant human rights concession before the Games start," it said. "Every time a journalist or blogger is released, another goes into prison. () China's dissidents will probably be having a hard time this summer."

The report includes surveys of press freedom in every region of the world over the past year and chapters on 98 countries, including European Union members and the United States.

A press conference to introduce the report will be held in Washington on 13 February in the presence of journalists from Iraq, China, Eritrea and Pakistan. Another will be held in Berlin with Russian and Zimbabwean journalists.

See below for download of these documents:

  • The press comunique about the annual report
  • The general introduction of the report
  • Europe chapter
  • Asia chapter
  • Africa chapter
  • America chapter
  • Mideast chapter

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_Intro Americas eng.doc37.5 KB
AR8Africaintro.doc37.5 KB
AR8-Asiantro.doc38.5 KB
AR8-EuropeIntro.doc33 KB
AR8-MEastIntro.doc35 KB
CP RA 08 Eng.doc31 KB
Intro RA 08 Eng.doc37.5 KB

China Human Rights Fact Sheet

March 1995

Human rights violations in the People's Republic of China (PRC) remain systematic and widespread. The Chinese government continues to suppress dissenting opinions and maintains political control over the legal system, resulting in an arbitrary and sometimes abusive judicial regime. The lack of accountability of the government and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) means that abuses by officials often go unchecked. This fact sheet identifies the most common types of abuses, including arbitrary detention, torture and ill-treatment of prisoners, severe restrictions on freedom of expression and association and violations specific to women.

  1. Controls on Expressions and Associations
  2. Torture and Ill-Treatment of Prisoners
  3. Lackof Judicial Independance and Due Process
  4. Death Penalty
  5. Tibet
  6. Women
  7. Resource List

Controls on Expressions and Associations

The PRC detains individuals for exercising their rights to freedom of association, freedom of religion and freedom of expression, including the right to impart and receive information, and other basic rights. The total number of persons in China detained without charge, sentenced administratively to reeducation or reform camps, or held by other means, solely for peacefully exercising these rights is unknown. However, that figure is estimated to be far in excess of the approximately 3,000 individuals that the PRC currently acknowledges imprisoning for "counter-revolutionary" or political crimes. Many of those detained are held under circumstances that constitute clear violations of due process. Such violations include lengthy detention without charge or trial and depriving defendants of access to legal counsel.

Restrictions on Independent Organizing: Although the Chinese Constitution guarantees freedom of association and assembly, national regulations severely limit association and give the authorities absolute discretion to deny applications for public gatherings or demonstrations. In practice, only organizations that are approved by the authorities are permitted to exist, and any organization that is not registered is considered "illegal." In this manner, independent advocacy on labor, human rights, environmental, development or political issues is effectively outlawed. The CCP-controlled labor union and women and youth organizations are the only permitted avenues for organizing in these areas. Unofficial labor groups have been a particular target for suppression. In December 1994, the Beijing Intermediate People's Court imposed severe sentences of between 15 and 20 years' imprisonment on three prisoners of conscience, convicted of "leading counter-revolutionary organizations." The sentences, based on the defendants' alleged formation of non-government-approved organizations, were the harshest delivered to political dissidents in recent years.

On 4 June, 1994, the fifth anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown, China promulgated new implementing regulations for the 1993 State Security Law. The repressive new measures threaten the few legal means of operation left to democracy and human rights activists, independent religious adherents and other independent voices, by criminalizing: contact with and funding from foreign organizations defined as "hostile"; the publication or dissemination of "written or verbal speeches" or "using religion" to carry out activities "which endanger state security;" and the creation of "national disputes." The regulations also give state security officials virtually unlimited power to detain individuals, confiscate property and determine what constitutes a "hostile" organization.

Restrictions on Free Speech and the Media: Although the PRC's 1982 Constitution guarantees citizens freedom of expression and of the press, its preamble mandates adherence to "four basic principles"-- the CCP's leadership, socialism, dictatorship of the proletariat and Marxism-Leninism Mao Zedong Thought. In practice, the PRC employs a wide range of controls that violate the right to free expression and interfere with independent media. These include severe restrictions on contact between foreign news media and Chinese viewed by the government as critical of the regime. An extensive censorship bureaucracy licenses all media outlets and publishing houses and must approve all books before publication.

The primary mechanism of control over the news media and publishing is self-censorship. Chinese journalists, editors and publishers are expected to make the information they disseminate conform to CCP Propaganda Department guidelines. For example, news coverage is required to be "80% positive and 20% negative." Sanctions for infringements range from official criticism of the coverage to the demotion, firing or imprisonment of the individuals responsible and the closing or banning of the offending publication.

Dissidents who make their opinions known to the foreign media are often subject to threats, detention, harassment, intensive surveillance or imprisonment. During 1994, at least 20 Chinese writers, journalists, editors and publishers were persecuted in connection with their work. Also during the year, foreign correspondents from the British Broadcasting Corporation, Newsweek, Reuters, United Press International, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, U.S. television networks (NBC, CBS) and other foreign media outfits were detained and interrogated by PRC police regarding their work as journalists, including the interviewing of Chinese dissidents and students and filming in Tiananmen Square. Police also banned broadcasts of CNN in Beijing hotels for five days surrounding the fifth anniversary of the 4 June 1989 military crackdown on democracy demonstrators.

Suppression of Religious Freedom: The PRC prohibits all religious activities outside establishments registered under the official branches of four state-recognized religions (Buddhism, Taoism, Christianity and Islam), established by the PRC government during the 1950s, through which Chinese and Tibetan religious adherents are required to practice their faith. Individuals conducting or participating in public worship without government authorization, including Catholics loyal to the Vatican and Protestants who worship in house churches, have been arrested, detained, placed under close police surveillance or internal exile, fined and, in some cases, tortured. PRC police have also confiscated religious literature and church property, and human rights organizations have documented the closure of hundreds of house churches since 1989.

China's laws restricting contact with foreign coreligionists, prohibiting parents from exposing children under the age of 18 to religion, and outlawing nongovernment-controlled churches violate the UN Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief. In January 1994, the PRC government increased restrictions on religious practice by foreigners in China through State Council Decrees 144 and 145. Decree 144 states that foreign nationals may bring in religious materials only "for their own use," and bans materials deemed "harmful to the public interest." The decree also prohibits evangelizing, establishing religious schools and other missionary activities. Decree 145 gives authorities substantial leeway in restricting religious activities deemed harmful to "national unity" or "social stability," and limits the practice of religion by foreign nationals to state-sanctioned places of worship.

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Torture and Ill-Treatment of Prisoners

Torture of detainees is endemic in Chinese detention centers and prisons. Although China became party to the UN Convention Against Torture in 1988, the government has not taken effective measures to diminish the risk of prisoners being tortured or ill-treated. Despite strong evidence of torture in several cases of death in custody, state prosecutors have refused to release autopsy results to families or to initiate investigations. In many detention centers, beatings, inadequate food and poor hygiene appear to be a routine part of the process of eliciting confessions and compliance from detainees. Such treatment is applied to ordinary prisoners as well as political detainees.

According to prisoner reports, methods commonly used by guards include: beatings using electric batons; rubber truncheons on hands and feet; long periods in handcuffs and/or leg irons, often tightened so as to cause pain; restriction of food to starvation levels; and long periods in solitary confinement. Furthermore, corrupt authorities at detention centers, prisons and labor camps have extorted large sums of money from families of detainees for the state's provision of "daily supplies" and "medical expenses."

Despite continuing efforts by the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, the International Committee of the Red Cross and other humanitarian organizations, PRC officials have not agreed to allow open and unannounced visits to prisoners. PRC authorities acknowledge that there are some 1.2 million prisoners and detainees in China.

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Lack of Judicial Independance and Due Process

Few legal safeguards exist in China to ensure fair trials, and the judicial system is controlled at every level by CCP political-legal committees that may determine the outcome of cases before the court hears evidence presented at trial. Legal scholars within China have called for an end to this widespread practice of "verdict first, trial second." With the political-legal committees exercising extensive control, detainees are highly unlikely to receive fair, impartial hearings that are free from official manipulation.

China's Criminal Procedure Law provides for detainees to have access to lawyers no later than one week before trial. However, even this minimal protection is not always observed. Prisoners typically cannot call witnesses for the defense or question witnesses against them. In politically sensitive cases, lawyers have been instructed that they may enter a not-guilty plea only if they get approval from the judicial administration. Even in death-penalty cases, appeals are usually cursory, and defendants may have only several days to file an appeal.

Arbitrary Detention: In addition to judicial convictions, PRC authorities consistently use administrative procedures to detain hundreds of thousands of Chinese and Tibetans each year.

Individuals sentenced administratively by police are not charged or brought before a judge, thereby denying them access to a lawyer and the right to defend themselves. The majority of these individuals are ordinary people, but democracy and human rights activists, independent religious adherents and worker-rights advocates are also frequently detained in this way.

The most common forms of administrative detention are:

1) "reeducation through labor," under which police, without trial, can send individuals to labor camps for up to four years; and

2) "shelter and investigation," under which police can detain people without charge or trial for up to three months, a time limit that is routinely ignored.

The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has determined that the practice of "reeducation through labor" is "inherently arbitrary" when intended for "political and cultural rehabilitation." According to PRC government sources, 100,000 people are sent to "reeducation through labor" camps and one million are "sheltered" each year.

Conditional Releases with Continued Deprivation of Rights: The PRC infrequently has released political prisoners of conscience before the completion of their sentences, predominantly as a result of international pressure. However, those released have been forced into exile, subjected to continuing police surveillance and harassment or, in some cases, detained again for alleged violations of the restrictive conditions of parole or new "crimes" of free expression. Many former prisoners of conscience are not granted the identity cards necessary to gain employment or travel without express official permission.

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Death Penalty

During the past two years, there has been a dramatic increase in the use of the death penalty in China. This growth in the number of death sentences and executions is partly due to anti-crime campaigns launched by the government. Defendants can be put to death for criminal offenses, including nonviolent property crimes such as theft, embezzlement and forgery. In 1993, 77% of all executions worldwide were carried out in China. On a single day, 9 January 1993, 356 death sentences were handed down by Chinese courts; 62 executions took place that day. During that year alone, 2,564 people were sentenced to death. At least 1,419 of them are known to have been executed. The total number of death sentences and executions is believed to be higher. Defendants do not always have access to lawyers, and when a lawyer is available, he or she usually has no more than one or two days to prepare a defense. Death sentences have been imposed based on forced confessions and are often decided in advance of the trial by "adjudication committees," thereby circumventing defendants' rights to a fair and public hearing and presumption of innocence.

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Tibet

In Tibet, hundreds of Tibetans have been incarcerated for peacefully expressing their political and religious beliefs. Conditions in prisons are reported to be dismal, with numerous accounts of torture and ill-treatment. In particular, PRC law enforcement officials have perpetrated violent acts against Tibetan women in detention centers and prisons. Buddhist nuns and lay women have been subject to torture or violent, degrading and inhuman treatment, including assault, rape and sexual abuse. In June 1994, one Tibetan nun died while in custody, reportedly as a result of a beating by guards. PRC authorities also have severely restricted religious practice; out of the 6,000 Buddhist monasteries that were destroyed by the PRC since its 1949 invasion of Tibet, only a few hundred have been rebuilt.

PRC policies, including population transfers of hundreds of thousands of Chinese into Tibet, threaten to make Tibetans a minority in their own land and to destroy Tibetans' distinct national, religious and cultural identity.

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Women

The Chinese Constitution and other laws provide equal rights for men and women in all spheres of life, including ownership of property, inheritance and educational opportunities. Equality between the sexes has been a part of the CCP's agenda from its early days, and women's rights are perceived to be in a separate category from human rights. Therefore, women's organizations in China, even though they remain under CCP control, are able to advocate effectively on some issues involving abuses of women's human rights. However, when women's rights or interests conflict with Party or government policy, the latter takes precedence. This means, for example, that abuses related to the family planning policy are not reported in the media or discussed publicly. Information about other issues, such as the extent of domestic violence, trafficking in women or abuses directed at lesbians, is effectively prevented by the CCP's injunction that most news should be positive. Thus, the controls on freedom of expression and association, which so affect democracy and human rights activists, have a strong impact on women's human rights as well.

Violence Against Women: According to some researchers, spousal abuse is far too common and, in many parts of the country, still socially acceptable. However, comprehensive statistics about the extent of domestic violence are not available or have not been made public. The official All-China Women's Federation (ACWF) has been studying this problem and seeking solutions.

Few battered women have the opportunity to escape abuse, because shelters and other resources are not available. Women are under considerable social pressure to keep families together regardless of the circumstances. Legal action is not taken against batterers unless the victim initiates it, and if she withdraws her testimony, the proceedings are ended.

Abduction and Trafficking of Women: Trafficking and sale of women as brides or into prostitution is a serious problem in certain parts of China, and Chinese women have been sold into brothels in Southeast Asia. The PRC government has enacted various laws to combat the sale of women, but the statistics released by the government do not reliably indicate the scale of the problem. PRC officials stated that there were 15,000 cases of kidnapping and trafficking in women and children in 1993. Yet according to one estimate, 10,000 women were abducted and sold in 1992 in Sichuan Province alone.

Until recently, the authorities have not prosecuted men who purchase women as wives; thus, the trade has continued unabated. Official action to rescue victims of trafficking is generally initiated only if a complaint is made by the woman or her family. Local officials often turn a blind eye, even formally registering marriages into which the woman has been sold.

Discrimination in Employment and Education: The PRC ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women in 1980 and enacted the Law on the Protection of Women's Rights and Interests in 1992. However, open discrimination against women in China has continued to grow during the period of reform of the last 15 years.

According to PRC government surveys, women's salaries have been found to average 77% of men's, and most women employed in industry work in low-skill and low-paying jobs. An estimated 70 to 80% of workers laid off as a result of downsizing in factories have been women, and, although women make up 38% of the work force, they are 60% of the unemployed. At job fairs, employers openly advertise positions for men only, and university campus recruiters often state that they will not hire women. Employers justify such discrimination by saying that they cannot afford the benefits they are required to provide for pregnant women, nursing mothers and infants.

The proportion of women to men declines at each educational tier, with women comprising some 25% of undergraduates in universities. Institutions of higher education that have a large proportion of female applicants, such as foreign language institutes, have been known to require higher entrance exam grades from women.

Although China has a law mandating compulsory primary education, increasing numbers of rural girls are not being sent to school. Rural parents often do not want to "waste" money on school fees for girls who will "belong" to another family when they marry. According to official statistics, about 70% of illiterates in China are female.

Violations Resulting from Family Planning Policy: The Chinese Constitution mandates the duty of couples to practice family planning. Since 1979, the central government has attempted to implement a family planning policy in China and Tibet that the government states is "intended to control population quantity and improve its quality." Central to this initiative is the "one child per couple" policy. Central authorities have verbally condemned the use of physical force in implementing the one-child policy; however, its implementation is left to local laws and regulations.

To enforce compliance, local authorities employ incentives such as medical, educational and housing benefits, and punishments including fines, confiscation of property, salary cuts or even dismissal. Officials also may refuse to issue residence cards to "out of plan" children, thereby denying them education and other state benefits.

Methods employed to ensure compliance have also included the forced use of contraceptives, primarily the I.U.D., and forced abortion for pregnant women who already have one child. In Zheijang Province, for example, the family planning ordinance states that "fertile couples must use reliable birth control according to the provisions. In case of pregnancies in default of the plan, measures must be taken to terminate them." As an official "minority", Tibetans are legally allowed to have more than one child. However, there have been reports of forced abortions and sterilizations of Tibetan women who have had only one child. There are also reports of widespread sterilization of certain categories of women, including those suffering from mental illness, retardation and communicable or hereditary diseases. Under previous local regulations superseded by the 1994 Maternal and Infant Health Care Law, such sterilization was mandatory in certain provinces. Under the new law, certain categories of people still may be prevented from bearing children.

Violations Against Female Children: The one-child policy, in conjunction with the traditional preference for male children, has led to a resurgence of practices like female infanticide, concealment of female births and abandonment of female infants. Female children whose births are not registered do not have any legal existence and therefore may have difficulty going to school or receiving medical care or other state services. The overwhelming majority of children in orphanages are female and/or mentally or physically handicapped.

The one-child policy has also contributed to the practice of prenatal sex identification resulting in the abortion of female fetuses. Although the government has outlawed the use of ultrasound machines for this purpose, physicians continue the practice, especially in rural areas. Thus, while the average worldwide ratio of male to female newborns is 105/100, Chinese government statistics show that the ratio in the PRC is 114/100 and may be higher in some areas.

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This fact sheet was prepared by the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Center for Human Rights. It is based on information provided by Amnesty International-USA, the Committee to Protect Journalists, the Francois-Xavier Bagnoud Center for Health and Human Rights, Human Rights in China, the International Campaign for Tibet, the Puebla Institute and the RFK Memorial Center for Human Rights. The accompanying resource list provides contact information for these organizations.


RESOURCE LIST

Amnesty International-USA

prengel@aiusa.usa.com

304 Pennsylvania Avenue, SE

Washington, DC 20003

TEL: 202/544-0200 FAX: 202/546-7142

Contact:

  • Pat Rengel, Legislative Counsel
  • Estrellita Jones, Government Program Officer/Asian Affairs

Committee to Protect Journalists

cpj@igc.apc.org

330 Seventh Avenue, 12th Floor

New York, NY 10001

TEL: 212/465-1004 FAX: 212/465-9568

Contact

  • Vikram Parekh, Regional Coordinator for Asia

Francois-Xavier Bagnoud Center for Health and Human Rights

fxbcen@harvarda.harvard.edu

Harvard School of Public Health

8 Story Street

Cambridge, MA 02138

TEL: 617/496-4370

FAX: 617/496-4380

Contact

  • Sofia Gruskin, Research Associate
  • Reed Boland, Harvard Law School (617/495-9623)

Human Rights in China

hrichina@igc.org

485 Fifth Avenue

New York, NY 10017

TEL: 212/661-2909

FAX: 212/972-0905

Contact

  • Xiao Qiang, Executive Director
  • Sophia Woodman, Publications Director

Human Rights Watch/Asia

hrwnyc@hrw.org

485 Fifth Avenue

New York, NY 10017

TEL: 212/972-8400

FAX: 212/972-0905

Contact

  • Sidney Jones, Executive Director
  • Mickey Spiegel, Consultant

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