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Tuesday, December 07, 2004


Torture "widespread and endemic" within PRC

The Peoples Republic of China's growing number of human rights activists risk detention and torture, states a report from Amnesty International released to coincide with a summit of PRC and European Union leaders in the Netherlands this week. Amnesty wants EU delegates to call on the PRC to release those in prison for rights activism.

"A growing number of people in China are standing up and demanding the basic rights that we in Europe take for granted. For doing so, they face arrest, torture and even death," said Amnesty International Media Director Mike Blakemore.

Amnesty's 42-page report said even though many of those campaigning for better rights - including health, housing, labour, religious and ethnic freedoms - are members of groups set up by the Communist Party-directed government itself, activists are vulnerable because their rights are limited and poorly defined.

"Torture and ill-treatment remain widespread and endemic within China's criminal justice system, particularly at the pre-trial stage when beatings or other forms of torture are often used by the police in an attempt to extract a 'confession' from detained suspects ... Human rights defenders and others with strongly held beliefs or opinions who refuse to 'confess' to their 'crimes' are at particular risk of torture or ill-treatment," the report said.

According to BBC News, activists inside the CPC "are careful not to call themselves as such ... preferring terms such as organiser." This was also noticed recently by the Washington Post's, Edward Cody who observed that labor walkouts are being organized in advance throughout the country "but not by formal labor groups or permanent worker committees".

Some EU members like Britain say such human rights violations should prevent the Union from lifting the arms embargo, which was imposed after the Peoples Liberation Army brutally crushed pro-democracy protests in and around Beijing's Tiananmen Square in 1989. However France, which first pressed for a review of the ban and is one of the EU's biggest arms exporters, and Germany are seen as supporting an end to the embargo to open trade opportunities.

The PRC's Xinhua newsagency highlighted the French Foreign Ministry's statement yesterday that European arms embargo imposed on the PRC "no longer corresponds to the reality of the partnership".

"Of course we are in favor of a lifting of the embargo. It no longer corresponds to the reality of the Euro-Chinese strategic partnership," French Foreign Ministry's spokeswoman Cecile Pozzo di Borgo said. "Member states of the EU agree on this ... The discussions are focused on the timetable and modalities for the lifting of the embargo," she said at a news conference.

Xinhua noted that while French President Jacques Chirac and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder favor an end to the arms embargo, the European parliament resolved on November 17 to oppose such a move until the adoption of a general EU code of conduct on all arms sales as well as concrete improvements in the PRC's human rights record.

However the newsagency commented that by announcing its intention to lift the embargo, at the EU-Chinese summit on Wednesday, the EU "would send positive signals to China ... without ... an immediate removal."

Shocking how frequently self interest trumps rightous action by the French and Germans.
This doesn't surprise me. Over a decade ago in a single day of traveling via train, I happened to see three separate instances of policemen beating someone up on the street. I have no idea what the person had done (picking pockets?) but the justice struck me as exceedingly swift. On the other hand, I saw many places where criminals operated openly and yet were ignored by the police. I got the feeling that there was only one type of criminal in China: those that failed to pay the local policemen bribes.
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