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Trading human rights for money muddies western hands as well

BRUSSELS (SE): The human rights situation in China has been rapidly deteriorating because, among other things, “The United States (of America – US) and European countries reduced pressure against the Chinese government,” Wei Jingsheng, a long time critic of the human rights record of his country told the European Parliament on June 21.

He added, “This will bring an even more extensive disaster than the human rights affairs alone.”

Wei is the 1996 recipient of the Sakharov Prize, which is named after Soviet scientist and dissident, Andrei Sakharov, and established in December 1988 by the European Parliament as a means of honouring individuals or organisations which have dedicated themselves to the defence of human rights and freedom of thought.

In his testimony before the European Parliament Wei said that there are six aspects that illustrate how the human rights situation in China is getting out of hand, but singled out the continued practice of western countries selling out on human rights for economic benefit as a prime cause.

“We will rapidly enter an era similar to Nazi Germany,” Wei told the parliament.

He said that the deterioration in his country’s rights record is associated with reduced pressure coming from the US and Europe and is mainly reflected in Beijing’s strict control over the media.

“Censorship over the traditional media has always existed,” Wei said, “but the degree of punishment is rapidly increasing. In recent years, more and more editors and reporters have been removed from their positions.”

He said that the information cleansing and structural reorganisation in China’s media starts with the editor-in-chief and the president. “It includes punishing the western media as well.”

He explained that irrespective of what is happening on the ground, “All Chinese media must be in accordance with the command of the Communist Party propaganda department and the status of news and opinion in these media has returned to the status of the Cultural Revolution era of the 1970s.”

He called the Internet war the second hurdle, explaining, “In addition to the Internet control through filtering words, the Chinese government employs hundreds of thousands of Internet police to remove non-communist points of view and to advance the propaganda of the Communist Party including spreading rumours.”

In the run up to a change in leadership in Beijing, he claimed that censorship has increased to the degree that even the websites of factions of the Communist Party have been closed and that on top of this, there are cyber attacks on opposition sites and individuals, including western countries and private e-mail boxes.

He said that a policy of maintaining stability is an excuse for the repression of ordinary citizens and freedom of thought and expression. The party employs a large number of thugs to break up demonstrations and attack private citizens at the behest of the police.

Wei claimed that there are several million cases of such attacks each year, which leads the cost of stability to outstrip military spending.

He added that in a more overt and formal manner, stripping lawyers of their licenses, or even imprisoning them for taking on human rights cases, is common. However, he pointed out that on tip of that, they are also targets of the thug squads acting under the orders of officials.

He said that this is further escalated by the judiciary using illegal means to get evidence and deliver verdicts, as torture to obtain confessions and fabrication of evidence has been common.

Wei said that maybe the most insidious method used is the legalisation of illegal means. “In order to increase the efficiency of repression and maintenance of stability, many illegal means have been legalised.”

He explained that he told the US congress on May 15 this year, “In 1994, illegal detention could only be approved within the police department and was not recognised by the prosecutors and courts in China.”

But he pointed out that continual breaches of this regulation has seem the practice gradually become accepted, until it was formally accepted as being legal earlier this year.

“But this kind of illegal detention has been gradually extended to become nationwide in the past decade or more,” Wei noted.

He explained, “The National People’s Congress in its new Code of Criminal Procedure recognised this illegal detention as legitimate. This declared legitimacy indicates that the means of gangs and Fascism have been legalised step by step.”

Wei called the human rights situation critical, adding that the west cannot just sit on its hands and say how naughty China is, as it must also accept some of the responsibility for its compliance in the process.

“Western democratic countries, as well as having the policy of using other people’s human rights for financial gain, will, just as history has illustrated, bring on an even more extensive disaster than the human rights affairs alone,” he concluded.