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Human Rights and Religious Freedom News

Archive for September, 2006

BBC undercover investigation on harvesting organs in China

Posted by radiofreechina on September 28, 2006

 “Thriving” sale of organs from Chinese convicts (AsiaNews.it)

In an undercover investigation, a BBC correspondent visited a hospital in Tianjin, where he was told he could get a new liver at the cost of something less than 95,000 US dollars. The chief surgeon confirmed that one of the China’s many executed convicts would be the “donor”: death row inmates offer their organs “as a gift to society”.

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US Commission Slams China on Human Rights

Posted by radiofreechina on September 26, 2006

US Commission Reports China still “Strictly Controls Reproductive Lives” of Women

Pervasive propaganda, mandatory contraception, mandatory birth permits, coercive fines

By Hilary White

WASHINGTON, September 26, 2006 (LifeSiteNews.com) – In its 2006 annual report, the US Congressional Executive Commission on China says Chinese population planning laws “contravene international human rights standards” and that the government still “strictly controls the reproductive lives” of Chinese women.

The 2006 report speaks of “pervasive propaganda, mandatory monitoring of women’s reproductive cycles, mandatory contraception, mandatory birth permits, coercive fines for failure to comply, and, in some cases, forced sterilization and abortion” as the foundation of the government’s population control program

The report states flatly that the Chinese population planning laws flout international human rights laws “by limiting the number of children that women may bear, by coercing compliance with population targets through heavy fines, and by discriminating against ‘out-of-plan’ children.”

The Commission on China has monitored human rights issues and the development of the rule of law in China in the hard-line communist state since October 2000. Its annual report is submitted to the President and Congress and forms the basis of much of US foreign policy towards China.

In addition to population control measures, the Commission monitors the situation for Chinese religious believers worshipping in state-controlled venues. This year’s report says the Chinese government, in the name of promoting “social stability,” is increasing pressure on religious believers who violated strict government limitations on religious practice.

The report notes that the “limited improvements” in human rights practices in 2004 were overshadowed in 2005-’06 by “backward-stepping government decisions.” The report decries the government suppression of communications media especially its “regulatory control over the Internet and print publishing to censor political and religious expression, to imprison journalists and writers, and to prevent Chinese citizens from having access to independent news sources.”

The suppression of religious practice both within and outside and within officially sanctioned venues is also a matter of concern to the Commission. Five religions – Buddhism, Catholicism, Daoism, Islam, and Protestantism – are recognized by the government and those citizens who decline to register as official adherents to the state controlled groups risk “harassment, detention, imprisonment, and other abuses.”

Even those who register with the official religious communities risk the same abuse, the report says, “if they engage in religious activities that authorities deem a threat to Party authority or legitimacy.”

The population control measures which favour the births of boys over girls, have created a potentially disastrous imbalance in the sexes among younger Chinese born since the imposition of the “family planning” laws. Chinese women in urban areas are normally allowed to have only one child, but the law allows rural women to have a second child if the first is a girl.

The report says, “this imbalance exacerbates trafficking of women and girls for sale as brides. Between 10,000 and 20,000 men, women, and children are victims of trafficking within China each year, and NGOs estimate that 90 percent of those victims are women and children trafficked for sexual exploitation.”

The report also has strong criticisms for the treatment of the lawyer and activist Chen Guangcheng, who was arrested and sentenced on August 24, 2006, to four years and three months’ imprisonment, after he drew international attention to population planning abuses by government officials.

Such abuses of power, the report says, “will only undermine the legitimacy of government actions and of China’s developing legal system.” This August, the US government called on the Chinese to release Chen who was arrested on trumped up charges which were laid, according to international human rights organizations, in order to silence his legal activism against the population control program.

The Commission says that the US government is “deeply concerned” at the decline of human rights in China as the government attempts to crack down on the growing Chinese social unrest.

Read the report of the Congressional Executive Commission on China (Adobe reader required):
http://www.cecc.gov/pages/annualRpt/annualRpt06/CECCannRpt2006.pdf

Read related LifeSiteNews.com coverage:
US Urges China to Release Blind Anti-Forced-Abortion Activist Chen Guangcheng
http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2006/aug/06081404.html

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Forum 18 Takes a Look At Religious Freedom in China

Posted by radiofreechina on September 15, 2006

CHINA: WOULD A RELIGION LAW HELP PROMOTE RELIGIOUS FREEDOM?

Some both inside the country and abroad argue that a national religion law
would help end China’s arbitrary treatment of religious believers and
restrictions on their rights by allowing them to appeal to an objective
law. But the authorities avoided adopting a religion law and instead
passed updated religion regulations in late 2004, though the question of
whether a law should be adopted remains live. While the current
regulations are contradictory and are implemented arbitrarily – some
unregistered places of worship face severe crackdowns while others are
untouched – Forum 18 News Service concludes that without an independent
judiciary capable of enforcing a law objectively and while existing state
laws are interpreted arbitrarily, any religion law would be unlikely to
end state interference in religious life and allow religious believers to
defend their rights.

F18News www.forum18.org

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Huang Qi interviewed by RFA’s Jill Ku

Posted by radiofreechina on September 15, 2006

The Activist and the Police Chief: Huang Qi’s Story

Huang Qi was a trailblazer among Chinese rights activists in using the
Internet to find loved ones kidnapped by human traffickers or otherwise
unaccounted for. Although he was initially lionized in China’s official
media, he later spent five years in prison for “incitement to subversion”
and was awarded the 2004 Internet Freedom Prize by Paris-based Reporters
Sans Frontieres. “I believe that in a future China things won’t be this way.
I think that those of us who blaze a trail have to pay this sort of price ,”
he told RFA’s Mandarin service in a in-depth interview with Jill Ku. “We
approach things entirely from the point of view of human rights, and our
work has also included protecting the rights of members of the Chinese
Communist Party.”

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Scores of Dissidents Across China Harassed by Police

Posted by radiofreechina on September 14, 2006

各地异见人士接连被警方骚扰 (RFA.org)  Google Translate into English

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Another Catholic bishop arrested in China

Posted by radiofreechina on September 14, 2006

Zhouzhi bishop arrested; he defied government for love of the Pope (AsiaNews.it)

On 11 September, a unit of around 30 policemen scaled the wall of the parish where Mgr Wu Qinjing lives. They took him away without charging him with anything, after mistreating an 80-year-old priest and some sisters. The bishop from the official church had been ordained by Mgr Li Duan without government permission.

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Wikipdedia vs. Chinese Internet Censors

Posted by radiofreechina on September 12, 2006

In China, It’s Wikipedia Versus the Internet Censors (taipeitimes.com)

The founder of Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia written by its users, has defied the Chinese government by refusing to bow to censorship of politically sensitive entries….

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Human Rights Defender Hu Jia (胡佳) Under House Arrest

Posted by radiofreechina on September 12, 2006

Hi Jia and his wife

Hu Jia and his wife

胡佳北京遭软禁 誓言营救高智晟 (VOAnews.com) Google Translante into English

Chinese AIDS dissident released after being questioned about detained lawyer (IHT.com)

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Protestants Face Guns Beatings, Fines and Deportation

Posted by radiofreechina on September 10, 2006

uz-flag.gif

By Jeremy Reynalds
Correspondent for ASSIST News Service
UZBEKISTAN (ANS) — Following a police raid on a Protestant summer camp near the southern town of Termez in Uzbekistan, about 20 church members were detained and many of them beaten.
Uzbekistan is located in Central Asia, north of Afghanistan (www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/uz.html).
Protestant sources speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals told Forum 18
News Service about the Aug. 24 raid.
One Protestant, Husan Primbetov, is still incarcerated, while more than a dozen others were freed within 24 hours. Five more individuals were freed on Sept. 4 after many were tortured.
A Ukrainian national, among those let go on Sept. 4, is awaiting deportation.
Deported in a separate case on Sept. 5 was the wife of the pastor of the Bethany Protestant church in the capital of Tashkent, which has long faced pressure from the authorities.
Forum 18 reported that the news service has been unable to find out from the government’s Religious Affairs Committee why Protestant churches and other religious minorities are being subjected to such pressure. Only the committee spokesperson Aziz Abidov is authorised to speak to the media on behalf of the committee, and Forum 18 reported that the news service has been unable to reach him at his office.
According to Forum 18’s sources, at 10 p.m. on Aug. 24, about 20 law enforcement officers, including some from the National Security Service secret police wearing bullet-proof vests and wielding automatic guns, burst into the Uztelekom holiday camp in the village of Uch-kizil in the Termez district, where 20 Protestants had gathered for a religious meeting. Police confiscated Bibles and New Testaments. Everyone present was taken to the police station in Termez, where the men were beaten.
“I was taken to a separate room and ordered to undress and kneel,” Forum 18 reported that Vitaly Suvorov, a Protestant from the Termez suburb of Jarkurgan, stated after his Aug. 25 release. “A gas mask was put on me and the air supply cut off. The police swore unrestrainedly at us and forced us to confess that we had been holding an unlawful meeting.”
Forum 18 reported he said police did not provide any food for those individuals detained. Following his “meeting” with the police, Tashkent’s accident and emergency hospital department found that Suvorov had been injured with “ two scratches on his left cheek, bruises to the top of his head, a scratch to his right elbow, abrasions to both calves, and concussion.”
Suvorov, Forum 18 reported, has been fined before for his religious activity.
Although the police released most of the church members on Aug. 25, Forum 18 reported that six of them remained under arrest. Five of these were freed on Sept.4, leaving Husan Primbetov, a Protestant from Kokand in the Fergana valley in eastern Uzbekistan, the last church member still in detention. Some of those freed were fined, while others still face charges under the Code of Administrative Offences. Protestant sources told Forum 18 that police stole valuable items including digital cameras and cell phones from some of those incarcerated.
One of those held on Aug. 24, Forum 18 reported, was a Ukrainian citizen from Kiev, Yuri Stefanko, who was held and beaten at the police station until Sept.4. The Uzbek authorities are now drawing up documentation for Stefanko’s deportation.
Meanwhile, Forum 18 reported, the authorities are stepping up enforcement action against the Bethany Baptist church in the Mirzo-Ulugbek district of Tashkent, which has long been denied official registration, and as a result the right to operate.
On Sept.5, church member Viktoria Khripunova – who has no citizenship – was deported. Her passport was stamped with the words, “Deported from Uzbekistan.”
“In fact the authorities wanted primarily to get rid of Viktoria’s husband, the Bethany church’s pastor Sergei Khripunov. But as Sergei is an Uzbek citizen they decided to deal with him through his wife,” a Tashkent Protestant, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation, told Forum 18. “The authorities got what they wanted and Khripunov has left Uzbekistan with his wife.”
Khripunov is among many Bethany church members to have been fined in recent years for “unlawful” religious activity (see F18News www.forum18.org/Archive.php?article_id=588). On June 25 this year his Daewoo Nexia car was taken by unidentified individuals and vandalized.
Khripunova’s deportation is the second of a Bethany church member in as many months. Ivan Bychkov, leader of the church’s youth group, was deported to Russia on Aug. 11. A Russian citizen, Bychkov was born and brought up in Tashkent, where his family still lives (see F18News www.forum18.org/Archive.php?article_id=833).
Forum 18 commented it appears that deportation is becoming one the authorities’ favorite methods tactics in their battle with religious minorities. Jehovah’s Witness Yevgeny Li, a Ukrainian citizen who held a temporary residence permit in Tashkent, was deported from Uzbekistan over the border to Kazakhstan. Li’s home was in Tashkent and his elderly parents and wife – who are Uzbek citizens – remain in the capital. The Jehovah’s Witnesses fear that other residents of Uzbekistan who are not Uzbek citizens could also suffer deportation.
In May, Forum 18 reported, the Uzbek authorities deported Russian Jehovah’s Witness lawyer Kirill Kulikov, who was visiting the country to defend fellow believers who were being persecuted by the authorities. In April, three Turkmen Protestants were deported back to their homeland (see F18 News http://www.forum18.org/Archive.php?article_id=804).
Another Protestant pastor in Tashkent, who also preferred not to be named for fear of retaliation, told Forum 18 in late Aug. that in the previous week “all” church leaders were summoned to the secret police.
Pentecostals have also come under pressure, Forum 18 reported
A Tashkent source who preferred not to be identified told Forum 18 that in July the police blockaded a Pentecostal Full Gospel Church holiday camp in the village of Avangard in Yangiyul district (a Tashkent suburb). The police questioned all the church members present.
A local businessman and director of the Sion Trade company, A. Shishkin, who had been teaching the children, was sentenced in July to a fine of $38 U.S. by the Yangiyul District Court under Article 241 of the Code of Administrative Offences, which punishes “failing to observe the correct procedure for teaching religious beliefs.”
Forum 18 reported authorities contend that as Shishkin did not have a licence to teach religion, his teaching constituted a crime.
A hostile news article on the Full Gospel camp was published on July 24 by the local news agency gorizont.uz, and was widely reproduced by other web news agencies. Forum 18 reported that Uzbek Protestants described the article to the news service as “libelous.”
The Full Gospel camp faced problems as soon as it started in May, Forum 18 reported. Police raided the camp, beat the watchman and used force to take all those present to the local police station, where they were threatened about involvement in what officers claimed was an “illegal religious meeting”
(see F18News www.forum18.org/Archive.php?article_id=803.


For more background, see Forum 18’s Uzbekistan religious freedom survey at
www.forum18.org/Archive.php?article_id=777 .

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China tightens screws on foreign media

Posted by radiofreechina on September 10, 2006

China Announces New Regulations on Foreign Media (VOAnews.com)

China has unveiled a new set of restrictions on the type of news content foreign agencies can distribute in China. Press freedom advocates say the move is the latest attempt by the communist government to clamp down on the free flow of information.

The state-owned Xinhua News Agency on Sunday said it was exercising control of all distribution of news in China, including Hong Kong and Macau, regions where there have been long traditions of press freedom.

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