1-13-2012By Alison Searle
Human Rights Defenders
ChinaAid, a U.S. Christian rights group, is reporting that 2011 saw a serious deterioration in freedom of expression, association and religion. Additionally, human rights activists, particularly lawyers, were among 200 people “disappeared” in 2011.
In a recent article, President Hu Jintao argued that China must rise above Western influence to become an independent cultural nation, yet government censorship prevails. In most cases, Chinese citizens are banned from speaking about Gao Xingjian, a Nobel-winning dissident author, or Liu Xiaobo, an activist who won the Nobel Peace Prize last year.
China continues to detain human rights activists in violation of both international standards and China’s own laws. Here are updates on two activists we’re monitoring:
Gao Zhisheng: Gao is a Christian human rights attorney who was kidnapped, arrested, and tortured by Chinese authorities in 2008-2009. After a disappearing for a year, Gao resurfaced in 2010 and spoke with his family for the first time since he was abducted from his home in 2009. After visiting with in-laws in April 2010, he informed family members that he would be returning to Beijing a few days later. He never arrived. Last month, Gao was sentenced to 3 years for subversion and is undergoing a three-month “education period,” according to Chinese security agents. Family members haven’t been allowed to visit. It was reported that Gao will be able to have visitors at the end of the period pending “good behavior.”
Ni Yulan: A former lawyer and housing rights activist, Ni was sentenced to two years in prison for obstructing justice in 2008. She was detained for resisting and filming the forced demolition of her home. Ni became disabled due to repeated beatings by police while in government custody. Ni and her husband were tried on charges of “creating a disturbance” and “fraud” on December 29th; a verdict has not yet been reached.
For more information on these defenders and others, click here.