News / Asia

China Using Detention to Silence Dissent

China Using Detention to Silence Dissent
China Using Detention to Silence Dissent

Multimedia

China's modernization and its power as a trading nation have made it an increasingly important player in the international arena.  Yet, as its influence grows, rights activists and legal experts say China's treatment of its citizens and of their demand for basic human rights casts a shadow over the country's many advances.  

Scenes of petitioners, gathering outside local government offices and court houses to air their grievances, are increasingly common in China.  Analysts say the rallies are a sign of the Chinese government's gradual acceptance of some dissent.  But such scenes are only part of the picture.  Activists and legal experts note that government tolerance has its limits.

At a recent U.S. congressional hearing on political prisoners in China, legal expert Jerome Cohen said that vague Chinese criminal laws allow authorities to brand a wide range of individuals as political prisoners.

"Land disputes, property disputes, environmental, labor problems, birth control problems -- these are all often local disputes that make people become political prisoners because there is no satisfactory outlet for their peaceful protest.  And many of them, of course, get locked up," said Cohen.

Chen Guangcheng, a blind, self-taught legal expert in China, is one example.  Chen was sentenced to four years in prison for "damaging property and organizing a mob to disturb traffic" after he documented cases of forced abortions and other abuses by local family planning officials.

Although his sentence ends in September, human rights experts say his persecution is unlikely to be over.

Jerome Cohen says political prisoners are often deprived of political and human rights for years after they are released.

"After that period of deprivation is over, these people are often subjected to continuing surveillance, house arrest, restriction of any meaningful life, with no legal authority whatever," added Cohen.

Joshua Rosenzweig of the Dui Hua Foundation, which seeks to promote human rights in China, says a crackdown targeting rights activists, ethnic minorities and government critics is underway in China.

He says arrests for endangering state secrets more than doubled in 2008, and more arrests and indictments for what are called crimes of endangering state security were carried out in 2008 and 2009 than in the five previous years.

This is a sign, he says, that hardliners in the Chinese government are consolidating their power.

"I believe that the situation that I've described here is a consequence of the Chinese leadership's acquiescence to a hard-line element within the [communist] party that sees harsh criminal justice measures as superior to building the rule of law," said Rosenzweig.

Human rights activists and legal experts say the United States should do more to support those in China who struggle to promote the rule of law.

Some have said more frequent and in-depth discussions between U.S. and Chinese officials on human rights are needed. Others have urged President Barack Obama to meet with former Chinese political prisoners at the White House to show U.S. support for civil society in China.

Authorities in Beijing, however, stress that Chinese citizens' rights are guaranteed by law and that outsiders have no right interfering in the country's legal affairs.

You May Like

UN Fears Rights Violations in China-backed Projects

UNHCHR investigates link between financing development and ignoring safeguards for human rights More

Boko Haram Violence Tests Nigerians’ Faith in Buhari

New president has promised to stem insurgency; he’s scheduled to meet with President Obama at White House July 20 More

Social Media Network Wants Privacy in User’s Hands

Encryption's popularity in messaging is exploding; now it's the foundation of a new social network More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugeesi
X
Carolyn Weaver
July 06, 2015 6:47 PM
In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.

VOA Blogs