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Amnesty International Calls on China to End Crackdown on Human Rights Activists Ahead of the Nobel Peace Prize Awards Ceremony

WASHINGTON - Amnesty International
is today calling on the Chinese government to end its intensifying crackdown
on Chinese human rights activists ahead of the Nobel Peace Prize awards
ceremony in Oslo on December 10.

Amnesty International and Chinese human
rights groups have documented hundreds of cases of people being detained,
interrogated, or arrested in advance of the event honoring jailed Chinese
human rights activist Liu Xiaobo.

“The Chinese government’s travel restrictions
target not just human rights defenders, but also ordinary travelers who
somehow trigger the government’s suspicion,” said Salil Shetty, Amnesty
International’s secretary general. “This reaction violates Chinese law
as well as China’s international obligations and constitutes a serious
breakdown in the rule of law.”

Nobel Laureate Liu Xiaobo is currently
serving an 11-year sentence for “inciting subversion of state power"
for his part as the leading author behind “Charter 08”, a manifesto calling
for the recognition of fundamental human rights in China.

Xiaobo has consistently maintained that
the sentence violates both China's own constitution and basic human rights,
but, like many others in China who have chosen to speak out, he has been
severely punished.

He is just one of thousands of political
prisoners and prisoners of conscience currently being held in China. Among
the recent cases that Amnesty International has highlighted are:
*        Liu
Xianbin, a prominent Sichuan democracy activist detained since June 28,
2010 on suspicion of “inciting subversion of state power”.
*        Gao
Zhisheng, named one of China’s “top 10 lawyers” by the Ministry of Justice
in 2001, he was later arrested and tortured for his human rights activities
and has been “missing” since being taken by police from his home in Shaanxi
Province on February 4, 2009.
*        Tan
Zuoren, an environmental activist critical of the high death rate in the
2008 Sichuan earthquake due to substandard construction, he was later convicted
of “inciting subversion of state power” for commemorating the Tiananmen
Square massacre and sentenced to a five-year prison sentence.
*        Hairat
Niyaz, a Uighur journalist convicted on charges of “endangering state
security” in the wake of the 2009 Urumqi riots, he is now serving a 15-year
sentence and being held incommunicado.
*        Dhondup
Wangchen, a Tibetan filmmaker arrested, tortured and held without charge
for more than a year before being sentenced in a secret trial to six years’
imprisonment for “inciting separatism”.        

“The Chinese government should release Liu
Xiaobo and all the other prisoners of conscience,” said Shetty. “They
should uphold internationally recognized human rights standards, many of
which are enshrined in their own constitution.”


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The recent crackdown also coincides with a
concerted campaign by Chinese authorities to disrupt the Nobel awards ceremony.

Nobel rules require the winner or his
or her immediate family to personally accept the prize. Liu Xiaobo’s enforced
absence means that for the first time since 1938, the peace prize will
not be awarded at the ceremony.

Liu Xiaobo’s wife, Liu Xia, could have collected
the award for him, but she has been detained by Chinese authorities and
is currently under house arrest in Beijing. She is unable to move about
freely and has not been allowed to be in contact with friends or family
for nearly two months.

Chinese authorities have also pressured other
countries to boycott the ceremony. However, despite a campaign of political
and economic pressure, only 18 other countries have declined the invitation
to the ceremony.

“The Chinese government should be celebrating
this global recognition of a Chinese writer and activist,” said Shetty.
“Instead, the government’s very public tantrum has generated even more
critical attention inside and outside China – and, ironically, emphasized
the significance of Liu Xiaobo’s message of respect for human rights.”

Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning
grassroots activist organization with more than 2.8 million supporters,
activists and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human
rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates
and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice,
freedom, truth and dignity are denied.


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Amnesty International is a global movement of millions of people demanding human rights for all people – no matter who they are or where they are. We are the world’s largest grassroots human rights organization.

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