Archive for the ‘Human Rights’ Category

Dalai Lama: China Unfit To Be Superpower

December 5, 2008

China lacks the moral authority, including over the question of Tibet, to be a true superpower, the Dalai Lama said Thursday during a European tour that has angered Beijing.

After addressing the EU parliament in Brussels, the Tibetan spiritual leader said China “deserves to be a superpower” given its huge population and economic and military strength.

“Now one important factor is moral authority and that is lacking,” he told a press conference in Brussels.

AFP

Exiled Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama speaks to the press ... 
Exiled Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama speaks to the press at the EU Parliament in Brussels. China lacks the moral authority, including over the question of Tibet, to be a true superpower, the Dalai Lama said Thursday during a European tour that has angered Beijing.(AFP/John Thys)

“Because of its very poor record on human rights and religious freedom and freedom of expression and freedom of the press — too much censorship — the image of China in the field of moral authority is very, very poor,” he said.

“The sensible Chinese realize China should now pay more attention in this field in order to get more respect from the rest of the world,” the Nobel peace laureate said.

He cited the problems of Tibet and separatist factions in the southwestern Chinese province of Xinjiang as areas where such a moral authority should be displayed. He also named Hong Kong and reunification with Taiwan.

He said he continued to have confidence in the Chinese people while doubting the government wanted serious talks on Tibet’s future.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20081204/wl_asia_a
fp/euchinatibetrights_081204183116

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Vietnam court upholds blogger’s jail term

December 4, 2008

An appeals court in communist Vietnam on Thursday upheld a blogger’s two-and-a-half-year jail sentence for tax fraud in a case media watchdog groups have said was politically motivated.

The Ho Chi Minh City People’s Court confirmed the September verdict and sentencing of Nguyen Hoang Hai, who uses the weblog name Dieu Cay and is a member of the online Free Vietnamese Journalists Club.

“After several hours of debate with his lawyers, the court upheld the first instance sentence of two-and-a-half years imprisonment for Nguyen Hoang Hai on the charge of tax fraud,” court official Phan Tanh told AFP.

AFP

Hai — who has taken part in anti-Beijing demonstrations about a sensitive sea territory dispute with China — was arrested in April, days before the Olympic torch passed through the southern city, formerly called Saigon.

“The authorities are trying to silence this blogger,” said media rights watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF) in a statement before the hearing.
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“Dieu Cay should be freed at once,” said the Paris-based group which has called the weblog writer a “cyber-dissident.”

“We call on the foreign embassies in Vietnam to defend free expression by urging the Vietnamese government to release him.”

Read the rest:
http://tech.yahoo.com/news/afp/20081204/tc_afp/
vietnamjusticerightsinternet_081204171612

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By: Human Rights Watch

New York, September 12, 2008 – Human Rights Watch condemned a crackdown on democracy activists in Vietnam this week, coinciding with the visit of US Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte for bilateral talks on security issues, economic ties, and human rights.

Human Rights Watch also called for the immediate release from prison of a prominent internet writer and activist, Nguyen Hoang Hai, known by his pen name Dieu Cay, who was sentenced to 30 months in prison on September 10, 2008. Following Dieu Cay’s closed-door trial, police detained and interrogated at least a dozen other democracy activists, bloggers, and human rights defenders.

“Vietnam’s government is well-known for having zero tolerance for free expression,” said Elaine Pearson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “The current wave of arrests of democracy activists is a thinly veiled effort by the government to silence independent bloggers, journalists, and human rights defenders in Vietnam.”

Many of the activists detained this week, like Dieu Cay, have participated in protests against China’s claims to the disputed Spratly (Truong Sa) and Paracel (Hoang Sa) islands. It is thought that Vietnamese authorities are possibly trying to prevent demonstrations on the issue planned for September 14. The authorities may also be trying to thwart high-profile activists from joining mass prayer vigils that have been staged since mid-August in Hanoi by thousands of Catholics, who want the government to return confiscated church land in Thai Ha Parish.

Dieu Cay (which means “the Peasant Water Pipe”), 56, is known for his hard-hitting internet postings calling for greater democracy and human rights in Vietnam and his participation in protests in Vietnam against Chinese foreign policy. A former soldier with the People’s Army of Vietnam, Dieu Cay was one of the founding members of the Club of Free Journalists (Cau Lac Bo Nha Bao Tu Do) in 2006.

Anti-China Protests

Since December 2007, growing numbers of activists in Vietnam have joined rallies protesting China’s claims to the disputed Spratly and Paracel islands, over which both China and Vietnam assert sovereignty. The protests were sparked by China’s November 2007 announcement that it was placing the islands under the administration of a new government district.

In January 2008, Dieu Cay and six other activists unfurled banners in front of the Opera House in Ho Chi Minh City criticizing China for its claims to the disputed islands. On April 19, 2008, police arrested Dieu Cay in Dalat, a city in central Vietnam, shortly before the arrival of the Olympic Torch in Ho Chi Minh City, an event the Vietnamese authorities were determined to ensure was protest-free. Prior to his arrest, police had summoned Dieu Cay for interrogation at least 15 times.

On September 10, a court in Ho Chi Minh City sentenced Dieu Cay to two and half years in prison on charges of tax evasion on a rental property he owns. Dieu Cay’s lawyers argued that the renter, not Dieu Cay, was liable for back taxes owed on the property, because the rental contract provided for the renter to assume payment of all property taxes, which is allowable under Vietnamese law.

Police officers from the Internal Security and Counter-Espionage Departments (Cuc An Ninh Noi Chinh and Cuc Phan Gian) of the Ministry of Public Security in Ho Chi Minh City arrested Dieu Cay. This department is primarily responsible for monitoring and intervening in political cases. International press freedom organizations called the tax evasion charges a baseless pretext to punish Dieu Cay for his political activism.

“It’s bad enough that the Vietnamese government took an anti-China activist off the street only days before the Olympic torch passed through Ho Chi Minh City, but to imprison him now on questionable charges is a new low,” said Pearson.

Internet and media controls

Dieu Cay’s imprisonment fits a wider pattern of harassment and arrest by Vietnamese authorities of independent journalists, human rights activists, cyber dissidents, religious freedom advocates, and farmers protesting confiscation of their land. The Vietnamese government tightly controls the print and electronic media, as well as the internet in Vietnam, and is swift to prosecute dissidents and independent writers.

In May 2008, for example, police arrested two investigative reporters who had exposed a major corruption scandal in 2005. The reporters, Nguyen Viet Chien of Thanh Nien (Young People) newspaper and Nguyen Van Hai of Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper, were charged with “abusing their positions and powers while performing official duties.” After their newspapers publicly challenged the arrests, on August 1, the government revoked the press accreditation of four journalists from the two papers, including both publications’ deputy editors.

Vietnam’s Constitution and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Vietnam is a state party, grant citizens the right to exercise freedom of expression, assembly and association.

“The Vietnamese government should take its own laws seriously and tolerate the expression of views it does not share,” Pearson said. “It’s time for Hanoi to cease harassing and arresting cyber dissidents, human rights defenders, and independent journalists.”

Background information

Activists arrested and detained by police on September 10 and 11 include:

* Land rights protesters Lu Thi Thu Duyen, Lu Thi Thu Trang, and Hoac Kim Hoa, who were detained and interrogated by police in Ho Chi Minh City on September 10 after they tried to attend Dieu Cay’s trial;
* Human rights defender Pham Van Troi, 35, an active member of the Committee for Human Rights in Vietnam, who was arrested in Hanoi just before midnight on September 10;
* Writer Nguyen Xuan Nghia, 58, a member of the executive board of the democracy movement known as Bloc 8406 (named after the April 8, 2006 date of its inception by Father Nguyen Van Ly) was arrested at his home in Haiphong just after midnight on September 11;
* Land rights activist Pham Thanh Nghien, who was arrested by 10 police officers at 11 a.m. on September 11 at her home in Haiphong and taken to Hanoi for questioning by police. In June 2008, municipal authorities in Hanoi rejected an application submitted by Nguyen Xuan Nghia, Pham Van Troi and Pham Thanh Nghien to conduct a demonstration protesting China’s occupation of the Paracel and Spratly islands;
* Student Ngo Quynh and poet Tran Duc Thach, who were arrested in Hanoi on September 10 as they were on their way to Thai Ha parish, where a mass rally by Catholics protesting government policy is taking place;
* Democracy activist Nguyen Van Tuc, a Bloc 8406 member, who was arrested in a midnight raid by dozens of police at his home in Thai Binh province on September 11;
* Vu Hung, who was dismissed from his job as a high school physics teacher two months ago because of his contacts with Vietnamese democracy activists and who was arrested at his home in Ha Tay province at 8 p.m. on September 11; and
* Bloggers Uyen Vu and Quynh Vi, who were summoned to the police station in Ho Chi Minh City for interrogation on September 11.

In addition, on September 10, authorities in Hanoi charged four Catholic protesters from Thai Ha Parish who were arrested on August 28: Nguyen Thi Nhi, Nguyen Dac Hung, Nguyen Thi Viet, and Thai Thanh Hai.

For more of Human Rights Watch’s work on Vietnam, please visit:
http://www.hrw.org/doc?t=asia&c=vietna

Human Right Cesspool: China

November 29, 2008

I do not understand it… for years and years and years, we see the thugs in Beijing killing political dissidents, jailing people who think for themselves and generally thumbing their nose at any semblance of human rights– and we do nothing about it.  I, for one, am perfectly willing to stop buying cheap, defective PRC-manufactured crap.

The PRC (People’s Republic of China) is nothing but a thug-run dictatorship.  I don’t want to hear about the supposed “dictatorship of the proletariate” and I don’t want to hear about supposed “egalitarianism” because neither is desirable nor moral.  Thugs deserve a proper end–one at the point of a gun or a hangman’s noose.  That’s exactly what the teapot dictators in Beijing are.

I’m ashamed of my government’s willful lack of spine when dealing with the PRC.  Then again, I’m TOTALLY in favor of severing all ties with Beijing and moving the American embassy to the REAL China…  The Republic of China is the legitimate government of the Chinese people.

I’m horrified that when I tell people that their green tea was picked using slave labor, they just blank out and do not seem to care.  We, as Americans, are proud of our support of equal rights before the law and of freedom– and we’ve spend trillions of dollars trying to help other peoples gain or maintain freedom– yet we turn a blind eye to the attoricities of the PRC thugs in Beijing.

Read the rest:
http://eriksgoodwin.wordpress.com/2008/11/29/enough-is-enough/

Factory workers occupy an office after smashing equipment during ... 
Factory workers occupy an office after smashing equipment during a protest at the Kaida toy factory in Dongguan of east China’s Guangdong province Tuesday, November 25, 2008. More than 2,000 workers of the Kaida toy factory in Dongguan smashed police vehicles and company offices on Tuesday night in a labor dispute.(AP Photo/Color China Photo)

India’s sex trade exposed

November 29, 2008

On the streets of Kamathipura young women stand ready and available, looking to lure their next customer. They pose, they smile, some wave. They look terribly young, their faces heavy with make-up. Many are dressed in Western clothes, others in traditional saris. In this red light district of Mumbai, they stand on the kerbside in front of grimy shacks containing the beds on which they do their work. There is the hustle and chaos of the traffic, the clogged roads, the constant noise. And there is terrible sadness too.

By Andrew Buncombe
The Independent (UK)

“I was tricked here. I was in love with a man and I came here with him. But when I got here, he sold me,” says Simla, a 42-year-old prostitute, originally from Nepal. She has two children and she saves what little she earns to send them to school, desperate that they do not follow her into the sex industry. “I was fooled into this. I will not allow my children to do it.”

Sex costs little on the frenetic streets of India’s business capital, where people come and go all the time. New arrivals wash up from India’s poor rural hinterland, desperate for work, any sort of work. Men – who are used to a repressed, conservative culture – come and stand and stare. There is a near-constant flow. A young woman might be able to charge a customer 100 rupees (£1.30) a time, but an older woman might only get 30 rupees (40 pence). When a woman demands that a customer use a condom, the price is usually lowered as a result.

These women and their customers are at the forefront of India’s Aids crisis. The country has up to three million people living with HIV, the third-highest total in the world. Experts say that the most important danger in the spread of HIV comes from the relatively high numbers of men who go to sex workers, who do not use condoms and whose jobs involve them travelling. As a result, both sex workers and India’s legions of horn-blaring truck drivers are among the groups most persistently targeted by health workers and educators trying to push the message of safe sex.

Related:
The Insidious Nature of Human Trafficking: Vietnam

Read the rest:
http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/love-sex/sex-industry/
indias-sex-trade-exposed-1036578.html

China’s execution of alleged spy harms rights dialogue: EU

November 29, 2008

The European Union condemned Friday China’s execution of a scientist accused of spying for Taiwan, warning of damaging consequences for dialogue with Beijing on human rights.

“The European Union condemns in the strongest terms the execution of Mr Wo Weihan,” a statement said. “This execution seriously undermines the spirit of trust and mutual respect required for this EU-China dialogue on human rights.”

–AFP

Ran Chen -- the daughter of scientist Wo Weihan -- in Beijing ... 
Ran Chen — the daughter of scientist Wo Weihan — in Beijing on November 26, 2008. The European Union condemned Friday China’s execution of the scientist who was accused of spying for Taiwan, warning of damaging consequences for dialogue with Beijing on human rights.(AFP/File/Peter Parks)

The EU underscored that it “comes just after the conclusion in Beijing of the EU-China human rights dialogue, in the course of which the EU reiterated its strong opposition to the death penalty and once again raised the case of Mr Wo Weihan and requested that he be pardoned.”

The 27-nation bloc also deplored the conditions under which Wo had been detained and tried and said it regretted that China had ignored numerous calls to defer the execution and commute the death sentence.

China executed the 59-year-old scientist on Friday, his daughter told AFP.

Wo was based in Austria from 1990 to 1997, and his daughter has Austrian citizenship. He was arrested in 2005 in Beijing on accusations of passing information of a military nature to Taiwan. He had said he was innocent.

Read the rest:

http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20081128/wl_asia_afp/
chinataiwanrightsexecutioneu_081128174532

China Says Children Killed In Earthquake Vastly More Than First Reported

November 21, 2008

China acknowledged Friday for the first time that more than 19,000 schoolchildren were among the dead in the massive earthquake that struck Sichuan province in May.

By AUDRA ANG, Associated Press Writer

The earthquake left nearly 90,000 people dead or missing, but the government had never said how many of the casualties were students. Most died when their shoddily built elementary and secondary schools collapsed.

Their deaths become a sensitive political issue for the government, with parents of dead children staging protests demanding investigations. Many of the parents have also been subjected to intimidation and financial inducements to silence them.

The student death toll of 19,065 was given at a news conference on preparations for the winter by Wei Hong, executive vice governor of Sichuan.

Wei said that millions of those displaced in the earthquake still need quilts and repairs to their homes if they are to survive the coming winter, expected to be unusually cold.

The earthquake, which was centered in the southwestern province of Sichuan, displaced millions and left China struggling to carry out reconstruction work.

Wei said relief work was important because experts were predicting temperatures would be slightly lower this winter in the area compared to previous years.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081121/ap_
on_re_as/as_china_earth
quake_students;_ylt=AgxzFn2vcmo6a9pG21.85CCs0NUE

Prison Terms Cripple Myanmar Democracy Movement

November 16, 2008

In a devastating week for Myanmar’s democracy movement, dozens of its members have been sentenced to length prison terms, as the military-ruled government locks away writers and Buddhist monks — as well as musicians, a poet and at least one journalist.

By MICK ELMORE, Associated Press Writer

By the weekend, more than 80 had received sentences of up to 65 years — a move that seemed designed to keep them jailed long past the upcoming elections, activists and analysts said Sunday.

“They are clearing the decks of anyone who is likely to challenge their authority ahead of the election” in 2010, Larry Jagan, a Bangkok-based newspaper columnist and Myanmar analyst, said of the generals who rule the country.

Myanmar's pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi. Twenty-three ... 
Myanmar’s pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi. Twenty-three pro-democracy activists arrested during anti-junta demonstrations in Myanmar last year were each sentenced to 65 years in jail.(AFP/MYANMAR NEWS AGENCY/AFP)

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081116/ap_on_re_as/as_
myanmar_dissidents;_ylt=AhTQlhJm7cgret4Kc8UKg5Ks0NUE

China: Forced Abortion Hits Human Rights Agenda

November 14, 2008

A Muslim Uighur woman who’s more than six months pregnant remained under watch in a hospital in China’s far northwest Friday awaiting a forced abortion by authorities who don’t want her to have a third child.

A nurse who’s tending to the woman at a hospital in Yining, near China’s border with Kazakhstan , said physicians had delayed the abortion because of international queries about her case.

By Tim Johnson, McClatchy Newspapers

China maintains a one-child-per-family rule on majority Han Chinese, with more flexible rules for ethnic minorities, to contain its massive population of 1.3 billion citizens.

Those who violate the rule must pay large fines, although reports of officials ordering forced abortions in rural and semirural areas are fairly common.

The case of Arzigul Tursun is raising attention because she’s 26 weeks pregnant and supporters say that an abortion could threaten her health. Her husband, who goes by the single name Nurmemet, said officials in their village near Yining learned of the pregnancy and warned the couple that their house and other property would be seized if Arzigul didn’t undergo an abortion.

He said the couple might have until Monday to appeal their case.

Arzigul is at the Municipal Watergate Hospital in Yining in the Xinjiang Autonomous Region , which is populated heavily with Uighurs (pronounced WEE-gers), a Turkic-speaking Muslim minority. Militant Uighurs seeking independence from China have carried out a terrorism campaign that’s intensified this year, and social tensions in the region are high.

U.S. Rep. Christopher Smith , a New Jersey Republican, wrote China’s ambassador to Washington , Zhou Wenzhong, on Thursday to demand that “the nightmare of a forced abortion” not be carried out.

“The Chinese government is notorious for this barbaric practice, but to forcibly abort a woman while the world watches in full knowledge of what is going on would make a mockery of its claim that the central government disapproves of the practice,” Smith said in a statement.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/mcclatchy/20081114/wl_mcclatchy/3100571_1

Obama Election Sparks Discussion of Race, Leaders Other Lands

November 12, 2008
A Tehran news weekly was shut down by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad last week after featuring President-elect Barack Obama on its front cover and asking the question, “Why doesn’t Iran have an Obama?”
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Fox News
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The news magazine Shahrvand-e Emrouz [Today’s Citizen] went too far for the hardline president, who quickly had Iran’s Press Supervisory Board ban the publication, the Times of London reported.

The closure of the propular reformist weekly suggests that Ahmadinejad is determined to silence his critics as he prepares for elections next June that could hand him a second-four year term.

The Iranian media has blamed numerous problems in recent weeks on Ahmadinejad. His expansionary budget is blamed for rampant inflation, oil prices have plummeted, aides have admitted that he suffers from strain and exhaustion, and an embarrassing forgery scandal claimed the scalp of his interior minister last week, the Times reported.

This week, however, Ahmadinejad collected support from some newspapers for his message of congratulations to Obama, which several newspaper commentaries on Tuesday presented an important opportunity.

Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad attends an official ...

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. REUTERS/Raheb Homavandi
Read the rest:
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,449945,00.html
 
 Could Britain Have a Black PM?

From the BBC

Now the US has elected its first black president, how long until the UK has a black or Asian prime minister?

 

When Barack Obama claimed that his story could only have happened in America, he might have been looking across the Atlantic for evidence.

The odds of a black or Asian person taking the keys to 10 Downing Street any time soon are slim.

Tony Blair acknowledged as much in 2001, when he suggested the US was ahead of the UK in having people from ethnic minorities occupying some of the top political posts.

Mr Blair was mindful of Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice at the heart of the White House, but probably hadn’t even heard of Obama.

Read the rest:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/magazine/7714056.stm

 

 

 

Japan police to question man on China organ transplants

November 12, 2008

Japanese police plan to question a man on suspicion of illegally brokering organ transplant operations in China for Japanese patients, reports said Wednesday.

Police plan to grill Hiroyuki Nagase, 52, on suspicion of violating Japan’s organ transplant law, which bans the brokering of organ transplants for profit, the Yomiuri Shimbun and other media reported.

A police spokesman declined to comment, but the health ministry confirmed it had received inquiries from the police linked to the case.

“They have told me that there was information that Mr. Nagase might be deported to Japan, and that they wanted to know which case would be illegal organ trading,” said Yoichi Hiratsuka, an official at the health ministry.

Nagase, who headed the China International Organ Transplant Centre in the northeast city of Shenyang, was arrested last year by the Chinese police for allegedly brokering human transplant operations on the Internet.

But the Chinese authorities changed the charge to false advertising when he was indicted, the Yomiuri said.

On October 30, a court in Shenyang sentenced Nagase to 14 months in prison, including time already served in custody, followed by deportation, it said.

Nagase, who flew back to Tokyo on Tuesday, told the Yomiuri that it was not illegal to broker organ transplants for profit in China and he was only doing what other doctors also did.

There is a severe shortage of organ donors in Japan and hundreds of patients go abroad each year for transplants.