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Protesting Denial Of Freedoms In China

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL

MEDIA RELEASE

EMBARGOED FOR: Saturday 25 October 2003, 16:00 pm

FOR ATTENTION OF: CHIEFS OF STAFF

KIWI HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS USE FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION TO PROTEST DENIAL OF FREEDOMS IN CHINA

Amnesty International today called on New Zealand Government ministers to take their own commitment to freedom of expression and other human rights into discussions with the President of the People's Republic of China, Hu Jintao, while he is in New Zealand, and openly encourage the President to start building the kind of human rights legacy he wants to leave.

"In 1999 the NZ government denied its own citizens the right to freedom of expression during the visit of the then Chinese President, Jiang Zemin. The New Zealand government should talk to Mr Hu about its commitment to freedom of expression and the mistakes it has made in the past," said Ced Simpson, AI New Zealand's executive director.

"There have been a few positive steps recently - the Chinese authorities are much more open to discussing human rights than before. Mr Hu Jintao has been President for only a few months - he should now be looking at what kind of legacy he wants to leave. One of death, torture, and denial of basic human freedoms, like his predecessors? Or one of justice, freedom from fear and openness?"

"Arriving in from the APEC Leaders' Meeting and meetings with the Australian Government, Mr Hu should be aware that stability, security and prosperity are impossible without securing human rights for everyone."

Human rights in China - background information

Hundreds of thousands of people continue to be detained in violation of their fundamental human rights, freedom of expression and association are severely curtailed, and death sentences and executions continue to be imposed after unfair trials.

Human rights defenders, advocates of reform and people who express their views over the Internet are arrested and imprisoned. Some have been charged with 'subversion', while others have been held on charges relating to 'state secrets', vaguely defined offences widely used to repress dissent.

Amongst other human rights violations committed in China, Amnesty International also remains concerned about ongoing repression of people's rights to religious association in China. The activities of religious institutions continue to be severely restricted, many Buddhist monasteries and nunneries have been destroyed, and hundreds of monks and nuns have been expelled.

More than 180 Tibetans, mainly Buddhist monks and nuns, remain imprisoned in violation of their fundamental human rights. Many have been tortured in detention and are held in conditions which often amount to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.

Since the "Strike Hard" anti-crime campaign was launched in April 2001, there has also been a dramatic increase in the number of people executed. By the end of 2002, with the limited records available, Amnesty International had recorded 1,921 death sentences and 1,060 executions, although the true figures are believed to be much higher. Execution was by shooting or lethal injection and sometimes occurred within hours of sentencing.

Official reports on the campaign reveal a total absence of concern for international norms which require that the most careful judicial procedures be followed in death penalty cases. These reports indicate that pressure was put on the police and judicial authorities to achieve "quick results" in the campaign, including by curtailing judicial procedures, thus greatly increasing the potential for miscarriages of justice, arbitrary sentencing and the execution of innocent people. The continued use of the death penalty in China goes against the worldwide trend towards abolition.

For further Amnesty International reports and actions on China please visit: http://web.amnesty.org/library/eng-chn/index

ENDS

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