12/07/2004, 00.00
CHINA - EUROPEAN UNION
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Export freedom, not weapons, activists say

Rome (AsiaNews) – On the eve of the 7th China-European Union summit scheduled for December 8 in The Hague (Netherlands), groups like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch (HRW) are urging the European Union to be steadfast in choosing human rights over economic interests and thus not lift the arms sales ban against China.

According to Brad Adams, HRW director in Asia, the arms sales ban was a response to the Tiananmen Square massacre (June 4, 1989). "China made human rights the issue in 1989 when it deployed the army to kill unarmed protestors and jail hundreds, if not thousands," Mr Adams said. "When people still risk imprisonment for simply speaking their minds or reporting the news, human rights is still very much the issue," he added.

HRW wants the EU to press Beijing to retry all those who were imprisoned for participating in the 1989 protests in the presence of international observers.

Amnesty International yesterday released a report highlighting how the number of human rights activists and the risks they incur are growing in the Middle Kingdom. The 42-page document stresses that people fighting for V/Aids, housing rights, workers' rights, freedom of religion, minority rights or the right to justice are detained on vaguely worded charges such as 'stealing state secrets' or 'subversion' and subjected to torture and arbitrary imprisonment.

Amnesty International wants the international community, including the EU, to press China to freed detained activists and reform the laws used in jailing them.

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