10/04/2010, 00.00
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"White Paper" on human rights: Beijing’s self absolution

But according to human rights groups it is just propaganda, "ignoring the facts and deliberately hiding the real situation." 2009 the worst year for rights since the Tiananmen massacre. In New York, Premier Wen praises freedom of speech, while in Beijing, the police arrest protesters.

Beijing (AsiaNews / Agencies) – On September 26 the Chinese government published a "White Paper" on human rights in China in 2009, congratulating itself on the excellent results obtained. But the association Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD) says that 2009 was perhaps the darkest year for rights since 1989, and cites a long series of examples. There is the same abyss between words and facts: Premier Wen Jiabao in New York, recorded an interview with CNN on September 23, in which he claimed that he is working on political reforms to bring greater freedom and democracy to China, and that freedom of speech "is essential for every country." On the other hand, on 1 October, the 61st anniversary of the founding of the Republic of China, the police arrested or removed "hundreds of people who marched in front of the UN offices to protest the White Paper’s many inaccuracies. Wen in the interview he acknowledged that "the desire and needs of the people for democracy and freedom are irresistible," and that it is important to "create conditions so that [people] can criticize the government," he added that in every country, the government "must act in accordance with the Constitution and the law," so as not to create an authoritarian regime. Analysts have, however,  noted that the prime minister did not reveal any concrete facts or timetables.

It lauds the “effective practise” of the National Human Rights Action Plan of China, which applies the Constitutional principle of respecting and protecting human rights to the various fields of politics, economy, culture, social construction, among others, has been "effectively implemented", according to the white paper. A special praise is dedicated to improving the judicial system, to strengthen the protection of human rights.

The systematic arrests of dissidents, incarceration and convictions for crimes of opinion and those who protest, increased internet censorship, forced evictions without compensation, judges subservient to the Communist Party, widespread corruption, this is instead the scenario described by CHRD in a response document full of examples. The group says the White Paper ignores the facts and deliberately hides the real situation". It notes that the text indicates the improvement of living standards as evidence of respect for rights.

 

Arbitrary detentions

Since September 25 police officers are guarding the house in Tianjin Zhang Jianzhong, an activist that reported numerous incidents of corruption and forced evictions on his blog. He is now under house arrest, the charge against him is unknown.

Since the Beijing Olympics of August 2008 authorities began to put human rights activists under house arrest, or remove them from the city ahead of all major events ranging from political conventions, to anniversaries, to visits by foreign dignitaries, in any event likely to attract the attention of media and foreign tourists. Without ever laying formal charges.

The signatories of Charter 08 are under continuous pressure and Liu Xiaobo, considered one of the authors, was sentenced to 11 years in prison for crimes of opinion.

Forced evictions

At dawn on September 29 500-600 people stormed the village Gaotan, Renshou county (Sichuan), and forcibly evicted six families who had refused to allow the demolition of their homes. The police, did not intervene, but instead arrested three residents for their opposition to the aggression. Two of them, Peng Qunying and Liao Yuehua were sentenced to 10 days in jail. Gaotan the village will be demolished to build government buildings in the county, but some residents complain that the compensation is totally insufficient.

Rights Defenders

In 2009, lawyers who defend human rights have been subjected to unusual pressures, at least 8 of them lost their annual licenses to practice.

Freedom of association

Pro-rights groups are often forced to register as commercial companies which means heavy taxes. In 2009 the authorities have forced the closure of the Gongmeng group (defending the rule of law), while other groups are subject to constant checks and threats.

Justice

The population now lacks confidence in the courts, subservient to the party hierarchy. In June, the general population were sympathetic to the plight of a man who, exasperated by not having received justice, shot a group of judges.

Internet

Tens of thousands of police monitor the internet, close sites and blogs that address topics considered "wrong". Big companies like Google must agree to disclose to police any information on users of sites and blogs.

Minorities

The situation remains very grave for Tibetans and Uyghurs, foreigners in their own land, which Beijing uses to the benefit of the coastal provinces. The Tibetan monks are under surveillance even within the monasteries.

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