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Human Rights and Religious Freedom News

Archive for October, 2007

Protesters Accuse China of Abusing Human Rights

Posted by radiofreechina on October 30, 2007

WWW.VOANEWS.COM
By Mandy Clark
London
29 October 2007

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Human rights campaigners have created their own Olympic flame relay. The goal of the Human Rights Torch Relay is to shine a spotlight on alleged human rights abuses in China. The flame left Athens in August and, after running through 17 countries, it came to London for the final European leg. Protesters say they want China to free all prisoners of conscience before the Olympics in August 2008. VOA’s Mandy Clark reports from London.

China Olympic, symbolism, carrying torch
Protestors are evoking the Olympic ritual of carrying a torch in an international relay

It had all the fanfare and symbolism associated with the Olympics. But this ceremony was far from a celebration of Beijing’s upcoming games. Instead, protesters set-up a global torch relay to highlight China’s alleged human rights abuses.

They claim China is cracking down on religious organizations and torturing prisoners of conscience.

Brian Coleman is a politician in the London Assembly. He says if the games were to go ahead in China, it would be a mockery of the Olympic spirit. “I call on all those politicians that are invited to all those expensive free trips next year, to send the tickets back to the Chinese Embassy with a note that they will only step foot in China when it is an open, democratic and free society.”

Annie Yang says she was sent to a labor camp in China because she is a follower of the Falun Gong spiritual movement. She says she was denied sufficient food and water and was forced to sit rigidly for 20 hours a day. “They took all our basic human rights away. Last month, one practitioner I met in the labor camp, she died there. Even last week, the people went to my parents home and (are) still searching (for) me.”

Chinese government officials were not available to comment on these accusations. China banned Falun Gong in 1999.

Protesters say the human rights flame was inspired by the Olympic games themselves. The Olympic Charter states it wants to encourage “the establishment of a peaceful society concerned with preservation of human dignity.”

The protesters say if they can shine a spotlight on China’s alleged abuses, Beijing might make human dignity the priority of the 2008 Olympics.

The march ended with a candle-lit vigil outside the Chinese Embassy. The flame now heads to Australia, South and North America, before ending in Asia by August 2008, right before the Beijing Olympic games are due to start.

SOURCE:
http://www.voanews.com/english/2007-10-29-voa31.cfm?rss=human

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Atheist China vows to encourage religion at Beijing 2008

Posted by radiofreechina on October 20, 2007

By Dan Wooding
Founder of ASSIST Ministries

BEIJING, CHINA (ANS) China has promised to offer religious services to foreigners at the 2008 Olympic Games and to have religion play a positive role in the future of the officially atheist country, the top religious affairs official said Wednesday, October 17.

This was revealed in a story written by Michelle Vu, Christian Today

In this photo released by China’s Xinhua news agency, people walk past flags with emblem of Beijing 2008 Olympic Games at Qingdao Olympic Sailing Center in Qingdao, east China’s Shandong Province, Wednesday, Aug. 15, 2007. The Qingdao city holds a series of events to promote Olympic spirit and let the citizens enjoy the Olympic Games during the Qingdao International Regatta 2007.
(AP Images / Xinhua, Wang Song)

Correspondent (www.christiantoday.com), who said that a large number of religious athletes and tourists are expected at the Games and Beijing will “make sure” their religious needs are met, Ye Xiaowen, director-general of the State Administration for Religious Affairs, said to reporters at the ruling Communist Party’s 17th Congress, according to Reuters.

“Here I can promise that religious services we offer will not be lower than the level of any previous Games,” Ye said. He did not say, however, if China will allow proselytizing like other Olympic hosts.

Ye also urged the Vatican to establish diplomatic ties with China, where there are some 10 million Catholics either in state-approved churches or “underground” churches.

Vu said, “Catholics in state-approved church respect the Pope as a spiritual figurehead but do not recognize his authority as those in the “underground” church do.

“Since 1949, China has not had diplomatic relations with the Vatican following the Communist revolution. There has been significant tension between the two powers because of differences on issues such as the authority to appoint bishops, the recognition of the pope, and the Vatican’s relationship with Taiwan.”

“There comes a separating river when the two sides approach nearer to each other. Then you should build a bridge or find a boat to cross,” Ye said. “You cannot just stand on the other side of the river, crying foul and cursing [China],” he said.

The top religious affairs official acknowledged that in recent years the number of Chinese religious followers, including Christians, has grown. Ye claims the Communist Party will now encourage religion to play a positive role “in promoting economic and social development” in the future instead of crushing religions, quoting Party chief Hu Jintao’s speech.

Vu went on to say, “China seems to be making great efforts to repair its religious freedom and human rights image before the Olympics. For months the world’s most populous country has been under scrutiny and fire for its oppressive religious restrictions including forcing churches to register and imprisoning and even torturing house church leaders.

“Recently though, China has reportedly softened its crackdown in light of international pressure by using tactics such as forbidding owners of rental housing properties from leasing space to house churches or worship services.

Public Security Bureau officials still continue to arrest house church worshippers, however – just in a much quieter way to avoid attention.

“China likely lessened conspicuous crack downs in light of the media attention it received earlier in the summer for expelling foreign Christians. Between April and June more than 100 foreign missionaries were expelled from China as part of a government-sponsor campaign to prevent evangelization during the Olympics, according to the U.S.-based China Aid Association.

“The expulsion of foreign missionaries is the largest since 1954, when the Chinese Communist government expelled all foreign religious workers after taking power.”

Chinese religious affairs head Ye also dismissed accusations that China restricts the printing and sales of Bibles, saying the Bible is only distributed through [state-run] churches and not through bookshops.

“The purpose is merely to prevent illegal vendors from driving up prices, which are kept extremely low by government subsidies,” Ye claimed.

However, Vu said that China recently arrested a Christian leader who attempted to pick up a large cargo of Bibles from a bus stop. The Christian leader said there were not enough Bibles available in his rural area so he asked a friend to ship them to him to share with locals.

“China has an estimated up to 100 million Chinese Christians who worship outside of registered churches,” she concluded.

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Defense Attorney for Arrested Christian Leader Arrived at Xinjiang ; Beijing Pastor Hua Huiqi Beaten Up again

Posted by radiofreechina on October 18, 2007

Photo Zhou’s wife with their two daughters

Midland, Texas (Oct 18, 2007)
CAA learned the defense attorney of the arrested Xinjiang church leader Zhou Heng arrived at Urumqi on October 17.

One of the most prominent Chinese rights defenders attorneys Zhang Xingshui is the director of Beijing Jingding Law Firm. He and his assistant went to the PSB office and learned Zhou’s case had been transferred to the Prosecution Bureau the day before. When they got to the prosecution bureau, one officer told him Zhou’s case hadn’t been assigned a case number. Attorney Zhang was asked to call the prosecution office after 15 days according to that office’s protocol of processing cases.

CAA also learned the recently arrested Zhou Heng’s coworker Tan Wen was released on October 15 after CAA issued report about his arrest. Tan Wen, a Christian who accompanied Zhou to pick up the Bible shipping, was arrested on Oct 9 2007.

Zhou Heng, a prominent Christian house church leader in Urumqi, Xinjiang, was arrested and accused of illegal business management. On August 3rd, Zhou received the delivery notice for a batch of printed Bibles someone sent to him. He was immediately detained without warrant by the Shayibake District Public Security officers, who were apparently anticipating his pick-up.

Zhou suffered inhumane treatment as a detainee in custody. The officers hand-cuffed Zhou behind his back on the first day of his arrest. Zhou was forced to sleep on a concrete floor for the first month, and was only provided a bed after CAA reported about his arrest. Zhou shared the cell with 14 other inmates, who were directed by the officers to beat up on him as an attempt to make Zhou testify against himself, which Zhou refused. On August 31st, a charge was formally issued against Zhou, and he was transferred to Xishan Prison in Urumqi.

Zhou\’s wife, Chen-Jihong, and his local lawyer Zhang Jiunong, have been trying to post bail so Zhou can reunite with his family. But that request was also rejected on Oct 16.

Beijing pastor Hua Huiqi was discharged from Tiantan Hospital by the police and transferred back to his rented house on Oct 16, and then he was beaten up again by 4 or 5 PSB officers on the morning of Oct 17, because he wanted to use bathroom adjacent to his bedroom. The PSB officers refused his request, blocking any possibility of Hua’s communication with several journalists waiting outside his house, and ordered him to stay in his bedroom, forcing his wife, Wei Jumei, to clean up the inevitable results.

Communicate your concern to the Chinese authority at the following address:

Ambassador Zhou Wenzhong,
Embassy of the People’s Republic of China
2300 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington DC 20008
http://www.china-embassy.org/
TEL: 202-7456743
Fax: 202- 588-0032; 202-7457473
Director of Religious Affairs: (202) 328-2512

Ms. Wu Aiying, minister of Ministry of Justice of PRC
Tel: +86-10-65205114
Fax: +86-10-64729863
Email: pufamaster@legalinfo.gov.cn
Address:No. 10, Nan Da Jie, Chaoyangmen, Beijing City (Zip Code: 100020
© Issued by CAA on October 18, 2007

http://www.chinaaid.org

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Two democrocy activists missing in China

Posted by radiofreechina on October 11, 2007

Two leading democracy activists missing in China (AFP via Yahoo News)

BEIJING (AFP) – Two of China‘s leading democracy campaigners have gone missing amid an intensified crackdown by the ruling Communist Party on political dissent ahead of a key meeting, rights groups said Thursday.

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China land activist Yang Chunlin tortured in prison

Posted by radiofreechina on October 9, 2007

China land activist tortured in prison (AP via Yahoo News)

BEIJING – A Chinese land rights activist imprisoned after circulating a petition opposing the Beijing Olympics has been chained for days in the same position and forced to clean up the waste of other inmates, his sister and a rights group said Monday

A released inmate imprisoned with Yang Chunlin told her Yang had been subjected to two types of torture, including one where the prisoner’s arms and legs were stretched and chained to four corners of an iron bed.

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Prominent Beijing Rights Defense Christian Lawyer Li Heping Kidnapped and Tortured; Two Beijing Christian Activists Held Under House Arrest

Posted by radiofreechina on October 4, 2007

Li Heping and Congressman Chris Smith 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

China Aid Association, Inc.

Midland, Texas

Tel: (267) –205-5210 Fax: (432)-686-8355
E-mail:
info@ChinaAid.org   Website: www.ChinaAid.org    www.monitorChina.org
Contact: Bob Fu  ?432?689-6985 (267) 205-5210

Photo: Mr. Li Heping’s photo with Congressman Chris Smith on Oct 12 2005 during a visit to Capitol Hill

CAA learned the prominent Christian human rights lawyer in Beijing Mr. Li Heping was kidnapped and tortured for nearly six hours on September 29, 2007. Meanwhile, two Beijing Christian activists have been held under house arrest since Oct 1, 2007.

Mr. Li is a partner of Beijing Global Law Firm and also serves as an editorial board member of CAA’s journal Chinese Law and Religion Monitor. In a statement to the international community entitled “May the Light of Rule of Law Shine on China — Personal Statement from Attorney Li Heping on Being Beaten,” attorney Li shared some details on how he was kidnapped and tortured.

Click here for the whole statement from Mr. Li:

May the Light of Rule of Law Shine on China — Personal Statement from Attorney Li Heping on Being Beaten 

Thank God for giving me an opportunity as an attorney to experience and witness personally the harshness of electric torture…” 

CAA President Rev. Bob Fu, a friend of Li, talked with him over the phone on October 2, 2007. According to Mr. Li, a moderate and well respected criminal law and human rights defense lawyer, at 5:30 PM on September 29, 2007, after Li Heping got off work and came out of the office building, he saw two sedans without license plates in the parking lot. Then, a group of unidentified people covered his head with a cloth bag and forced him into one of the sedans. There were four people in the car and the two people in the back seat placed Attorney Li Heping in the middle. The car traveled for about an hour. Attorney Li felt that the car traveled on a section of highway and then went down a slope. After he got out of the car, he went down many steps. Li Heping guesses that this could be a basement. There were about ten people there, whom he had never met. They demanded that Attorney Li Heping undress completely, which he refused. Then they began to beat Attorney Li Heping brutally. After they hit him to the floor, they undressed Attorney Li by force down to his underwear. The head of this group was about 40 years of age and the others were in their 20s and 30s. They grabbed Li by the hair, kicked him, hit him with water bottles, and slapped him in the face. The most vicious form of torture was chasing and hitting him with electric batons. Asked about their identities by Li, one of the interrogators said they are members of Beijing State Security Bureau. They yelled to him with standard Beijing accent: “All your family should get the hell out of
Beijing. Sell your house and car and get out of
Beijing!”

On and off for six hours, Attorney Li Heping who was brutally beaten and insulted to the fullest degree. He endured the torture and never regarded the perpetrators with hatred. At last, these security agents gave Attorney Li Heping an ultimatum: “Let us give you another option since we know you don’t want to get the hell out of
Beijing. Then, just work as an attorney, but you must not mess up in some things.” After that, they again put a black head-cover on Attorney Li and threw him into a wooded area in Xiaotangshan in Changping District of Beijing. Attorney Li had to walk for a long time to get to the highway where he got in a vehicle and went back to the city.

When he checked his belongings he was carrying with him, he found his attorney certificate, portable hard disk, access card to his law office, SIM card of his mobile phone, business card holder, paper version of the notebook, some materials on the case, and other objects had all been taken away. The hard disk of the computer had been totally formatted and a large amount of data was lost. When some were beating him, other agents must have been examining and copying the data in his computer.

At the end of his statement, attorney Li said “I long for the rule of law and the peaceful progress of the society. I told them at the site of beating that I wouldn’t hate them. I wish the light of rule of law would shine on
China and all my Chinese compatriots, including those who beat me.”

Invited by CAA, along with six other human rights lawyers and activists from China, Li Heping paid one week visit to the
US from October 10-17, 2005. During that visit, Mr. Li met with senior leaders from the US government and Congress including Ambassador John Hanford and Mark Lagon of the State Department, Dr. Will Inboden of the National Security Council of the White House, Congressman Chris Smith, Congressman Frank Wolf, Senator Sam Brownback, as well as senior staff at CECC (

www.CECC.gov ), USIRF (www.uscirf.gov ), and on the House International Relations Committee.

Meanwhile, CAA learned that two
Beijing house church activists have been held under house arrest since October 1, the Chinese National Day. Pastor Hua Huiqi and Liu Fenggang who were released in this July and February after serving 6-month and 3-year imprisonment respectively, were not allowed to go out of their homes. Each of their houses has been surrounded by two dozen police. Some PSB officers were even staged on top of Pastor Hua’s roof in order to prevent anyone from coming in or going out. Early this morning, October 3, 8 PSB officers broke Hua and his wife’s bedroom windows, and then cut off the electricity to their house. Pastor Hua was told his 77-year-old mom Ms. Shuang Shuying has been serving a two year sentence as a hostage of Hua’s rights defense activism. She was beaten severely recently without medical care and is now dying in her prison cell.  Hua today issued a letter entitled as “Pray for the Chinese Police” in which he called upon the international community to pray for the Chinese leadership and police to “soften their hearts and release my ailing mom so that the Gospel can spread in
China freely.”

“The brutal act of state terrorism against attorney Li and the two pastors sent a chilling signal to all the peaceful rights defenders in
China. This definitely represents a new low for the environment of human rights and the reality of the rule of law in the city hosting the 2008 Olympics,’ said Bob Fu, “if China can’t tolerate a moderate lawyer like Mr. Li, who should have any confidence in the Chinese leaders’ other international commitments?”

Communicate your concern to the Chinese authority at the following address:

Ambassador Zhou Wenzhong,

Embassy of the People’s Republic of China
2300 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington DC 20008

http://www.china-embassy.org/

TEL: 202-7456743                  
Fax: 202- 588-0032; 202-7457473
Director of Religious Affairs: (202) 328-2512

Premier Wen Jiabao, PRC




PO Box 1741

, The State Council,

Beijing, PRC (zip code 100017)

Contact Phone?+86-10-66012399

 Email? gazette@mail.gov.cn

Ms. Wu Aiying, minister of Ministry of Justice of PRC
Tel: +86-10-65205114
Fax: +86-10-64729863
Email: pufamaster@legalinfo.gov.cn
Address
?No. 10, Nan Da Jie, Chaoyangmen,Beijing
City (Zip Code: 100020)

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China lawyer Li Heping abducted and roughed up by thugs

Posted by radiofreechina on October 3, 2007

China lawyer says he was beaten by thugs (AP via Yahoo)

BEIJING – An outspoken Chinese lawyer said Wednesday he was abducted and beaten for hours, and accused of causing unrest by representing clients with complaints of official corruption and police abuse.

Li said he wasn’t sure if he would be able to continue working. He returned to his office the day after the attack and found his lawyer’s license was missing. A portable hard drive and his computer memory had been wiped clean, he said.

MORE

also:
Chinese lawyer recounts abduction (IHT.com)

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Chinese Government urged to release human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng and his family members

Posted by radiofreechina on October 1, 2007

By Michael Ireland
Chief Correspondent, ASSIST News Service

MIDLAND, TEXAS / BEIJING, CHINA (ANS) — A prominent Christian human rights lawyer has been rearrested in Beijing.

China Aid Association (CAA) reports Mr. Gao Zhisheng and his family members were reportedly arrested again on September 23, 2007 after he sent an open letter to the US Congress and Senate on September 21.
In the letter, Gao lists numerous cases of grave human rights abuses in the name of hosting 2008 Beijing Olympics and urges the international community not to be fooled by the Chinese government propaganda.

Earlier this year after being detained and even severely tortured for a number of months, Mr. Gao was sentenced to three years with five years probation because of his human rights defense work.

CAA also learned the Chinese government refused to issue passports for Mr. Gao’s wife Geng He and their two children after CAA President Rev. Bob Fu sent an invitation letter for them to come to Texas to have a two-month summer retreat this year.

CAA urges the international community to continue to press the Chinese government to free Mr. Gao and his family members.

“To deny innocent citizens’ rights to have their passports is against China’s own law,” said Fu adding: “We urge the Chinese legal community to file legal challenge for Ms. Geng He and her two children for the sake of their rights abused by Xinjiang authority.”

Contact:
China Aid Association, Inc.
Midland, Texas
Bob Fu (432) 689-6985; (267) 205-5210; Fax: (432)-686-8355
E-mail: info@ChinaAid.org Website: http://www.ChinaAid.org http://www.monitorChina.org

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