News / Asia

China Using Detention to Silence Dissent

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

Multimedia

William Ide

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

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the US are seeing gas prices dip below $3 a gallon More

Afghan Women's Soccer Team Building for the Future

A four-team female league was recently set up in Kabul; It will help identify players for the national team More

Video Koreas on Edge Amid Live-fire Drills

Pyongyang threatens nuclear test as joint US, S. Korean exercises show forces’ capabilities 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.
New Skateboard Defies Gravityi
X
November 21, 2014 5:07 AM
A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid