CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 16 February 2019

Print Version    Email to Friend
Beijing clamps down on Human Rights Day

BEIJING (SE): Officials in Beijing hit out at international concern over its human rights situation on December 12, Radio Free Asia reported.

It quoted officials as saying that only the Chinese people have the right to speak out on the subject.

However, it added that just two days earlier on International Human Rights Day, December 10, police in Beijing had swooped on thousands of petitioners who had arrived in the Chinese capital to lodge complaints against the ruling Chinese Communist Party on the very day dedicated internationally to human rights.

“There are tens of thousands of petitioners lurking in Beijing,” a retired People’s Liberation Army officer, Gao Hongyi, told the Mandarin Service of Radio Free Asia.

Gao, who hails from the eastern port city of Qingdao, said he and dozens of other former army officers planned to converge on the United Nations representative offices in Beijing’s embassy district on Human Rights Day.

Thousands of people thronged an alleyway outside the complaints offices of the central government, the Supreme People’s Court and National People’s Congress on December 10, in what is dubbed Dead End Alley of the Three Cheats.

Shi Yuhong told the Radio Free Asia Cantonese Service, “We were all put onto buses and taken to the holding centres. I was put on the 47th bus (to Jiujingzhuang),” he said.

Nearly 20,000 grievances are filed in person every day across the country and the government’s complaints website receives around 1,200 on any working day.

People reported that police stepped up security around major railway stations ahead of Human Rights Day.

Human Rights Day comes to China amid growing calls for the release of Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Liu Xiaobo—who published a controversial political charter on the same day in 2008.

There is also concern for his wife, Liu Xia, who is under continuing house arrest at the couple’s Beijing home.

The secretary of state of the United States of America, John Kerry, called for both the Lius release in a statement issued on the fifth anniversary of his initial detention for coauthoring the Charter 08 document.

However, a Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Hong Lei, said both Liu Xiaobo and Liu Xia had broken the law.

“China is a country with rule of law and all are equal before the law,” Hong told a regular news briefing in Beijing on December 10.

Meanwhile, rights advocates in Hong Kong joined the writers’ group Independent Chinese PEN organisation in calling for Liu’s release.

Richard Choi Yiu-cheung, deputy chairperson of the Hong Kong-based Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China, said human rights had moved backwards in China during the past year.

Overseas rights advocates also hit out at Beijing’s rights record in ethnic minority regions of the country.

The past year has witnessed a sharp decline for human rights conditions in (Xinjiang), the US-based Uyghur Human Rights Project said in a statement on December 10.

“The most alarming trend has been the increase in extrajudicial killings conducted by Chinese security forces,” the statement claims.


Exiled Tibetans staged demonstrations outside Chinese embassies and official buildings around the world on Human Rights Day, which also marks the 24th anniversary of the award of the Nobel Peace Prize to their exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama.

More from this section