Human Rights Suffer in Lead-up to China-US “Human Rights Dialogue”

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Human Rights Suffer in Lead-up to China-US “Human Rights Dialogue”
US should take necessary measures to ensure meaningful progress from Dialogue

(Chinese Human Rights Defenders, May 26, 2008) – In the lead-up to meetings between Chinese and United States officials to discuss human rights in Beijing this week-the first such dialogue to be held since 2002–, Chinese authorities have placed many Beijing-based human rights activists and lawyers under tightened surveillance.

On May 24, Wan Yanhai (万延海), head of China’s leading HIV/AIDS organization, Aizhixing Institute, was told by police from the National Security Unit under Beijing Public Security Bureau (PSB) Haidian Sub-division that he will be subjected to tightened surveillance in the coming days. Police guard the entrance to his home around the clock. When he goes out, he has to travel in a police car and is escorted by other police cars. Although the police presented no warrant nor gave any reason for such treatment, it is strongly suspected that the restrictions on Wan’s movement are related to the China-US human rights dialogue.

On May 23 and 24, National Security police visited Zeng Jinyan (曾金燕), blogger, rights activist and wife of imprisoned rights defender, Hu Jia (胡佳). They told her that she would not be allowed to leave her home and that they would watch her even more closely because “a U.S. delegation wants to meet you”. Zeng has been under “residential surveillance” (jianshi juzhu) without legal authorization since April, 2004, though lately she has been able to go out for chores. She has requested to visit Hu, her husband, in prison next week and is worried that she will be barred from doing so.

A number of Beijing-based lawyers who agreed to meet with US representatives for dinner on May 27, including Mo Shaoping (莫少平) and Zhang Xingshui (张星水), have been questioned and warned against attending the event by police from the National Security Unit of Beijing PSB. Mr. Zhang said he may not attend the meeting due to the pressure.
The following Beijing-based activists have also been placed under surveillance: Gao Hongming (高洪明), member of the China Democracy Party; Xu Yonghai (徐永海), activist for religious freedom; Jia Jianying (贾建英), wife of the imprisoned political activist, He Depu (何德普); Chen Yongmiao (陈永苗), activist and scholar; Li Hai (李海), student activist during the 1989 Tiananmen massacre and former political prisoner; Qi Zhiyong (齐志勇), activist who was shot during the 1989 Tiananmen massacre and left disabled; and others who wish to remain anonymous.

“Why are we under house arrest when the Americans solemnly come to speak about human rights? I hope the [US] representatives will discuss this problem with the Chinese government,” said one activist. “They are welcome to come to my home. The people monitoring me are sitting right outside my window. They are so close that they can hear me breathing.”

CHRD condemns the heightened surveillance and restrictions on movement of human rights activists during the US-China Human Rights Dialogue. Chinese authorities have violated the activists’ rights to freedom of liberty and of movement guaranteed in, respectively, Articles 9 and 12 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. These rights are also enshrined in Article 37 of the Chinese Constitution.

CHRD calls on the US government to condemn the human rights violations related to the Human Rights Dialogue. US representatives should make meeting the independent civil society activists whom the authorities are trying to confine one of the benchmarks of genuine and frank dialogue.

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