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Amnesty Lion Roars into Chinese Embassy

4th June 2007

Amnesty Lion Roars into Chinese Embassy

New Zealanders unhappy with human rights abuses

At the Chinese Embassy on Tuesday 5th June, a day suitably close to the anniversary of the June 4th 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre, Amnesty International will end its "Lion Declaration" tour. The tour launches Amnesty International's global "Human Rights Reform in China" campaign to halt appalling human rights violations occurring on a massive scale in China.

The six week tour has travelled the length of the country, from Invercargill to Kaikohe, taking with it the "Lion Declaration." The Declaration is a call of solidarity with the victims of Chinese abuses and to challenge the Chinese government to deliver on its promise to improve human rights in the lead up to the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Now the Lion Declaration finally travels to the Chinese Embassy.

Gary Reese, Campaigns Manager for Amnesty International, said: "We are expressing our concerns on behalf of the Mayors, Councils, and the thousands of New Zealanders who have signed the Lion Declaration. Eight mayors have signed and another 16 councillors have supported our call to halt the appalling human rights abuses in China."

In China many of the human rights abuses are carried out at the local level. Amnesty Campaigns Manager Gary Reese says: "Our tour travelled to all New Zealand local Councils, challenging those with Chinese sister-cities to speak out on human rights."

"Thanks to Amnesty International's campaign, local councils are now more wary of letting trade and economic interests close their eyes to human rights abuses in China."

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Amnesty International has documented eight incidents where there appears to have been an attempt by Chinese officials to limit freedom of expression in New Zealand.

"Even in NZ," said Gary Reese, "Chinese authorities have impacted on freedom of expression and freedom of the media. If we cannot ensure that the Chinese government respects freedom of expression in New Zealand, how can we push for freedom of expression in China?"

Human rights violations of particular concern in China include:
'Re-education through labour': over 250,000 people detained without trial.
Torture: widespread, including beating, sleep deprivation and electric shocks.
Death Penalty: Up to 15,000 executed each year without fair trial, organs harvested.
Repression of spiritual and religious groups: including Falun Gong practitioners.
Repression of internet and media: including journalists and bloggers imprisoned.
Inadequate labour rights: including appalling working conditions for internal migrants

Tuesday 5th June Wellington City
1pm: Lion visits Chinese Embassy, 2-6 Glenmore Street, Kelburn.
Speaker: Ced Simpson, Executive Director of Amnesty International.
Photo Opportunity: The 'Lion Declaration' is a colourful, traditional two-person Chinese Lion that performs a 'lion dance' to drums.
Presentation: 24 persecuted Chinese individuals will be profiled, symbolising the 24 New Zealand cities who have sister-city relationships with China.


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