Archive for ‘Human rights’

13/06/2014

China’s Supreme Court overturns death sentences for two men who raped 11-year-old girl | South China Morning Post

The Supreme People’s Court has overturned the death sentences given to two men convicted of raping and forcing an 11-year-old girl to work in a brothel.

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The court said the high-profile case, which has received national media attention, would be retried.

Tang Hui, the victim’s mother, has campaigned for years believing death sentences should be handed out to all people who were guilty in her daughter’s case.

She has also petitioned local governments to punish officials who she said had been bribed by prostitution gangs to protect their operations.

“The ruling has dealt a heavy blow to us,” Tang told the South China Morning Post yesterday.

“My family just tries to live a normal life. As the case reopens, we’ll experience all the nightmares again. I’m especially worried about my daughter.”

Tang’s daughter has contracted herpes, an incurable sexually transmitted disease, and psychological trauma after she was raped and forced to work as a prostitute at the age 11 for two months in a brothel in Yongzhou in Hunan province in 2006.

Her daughter’s two main kidnappers were sentenced to death in June 2012, four accomplices received life sentences and one was jailed for 15 years.

A representative from the Supreme People’s Court said in an interview with the People’s Daily that the death sentences had been overturned because the crimes were not serious enough to warrant capital punishment.

“The circumstances of the crime had not reached the degree of being extremely serious,” the spokesman said.

Forcing a large number of victims into prostitution, or performing torture on victims that resulted in death or permanent injury might have warranted the death sentence, the official added.

Lu Miaoqing , a lawyer in Guangzhou, said the Supreme People’s Court ruling was understandable as judges tended to avoid capital punishment unless a crime had caused deaths.

via China’s Supreme Court overturns death sentences for two men who raped 11-year-old girl | South China Morning Post.

07/05/2014

In China’s Xinjiang, economic divide seen fuelling ethnic unrest | Reuters

Hundreds of migrant workers from distant corners of China pour daily into the Urumqi South railway station, their first waypoint on a journey carrying them to lucrative work in other parts of the far western Xinjiang region.

Uighur women stand next to a street to wait for a bus in downtown Urumqi, Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region May 1, 2014. REUTERS-Petar Kujundzic

Like the columns of police toting rifles and metal riot spears that weave between migrants resting on their luggage, the workers are a fixture at the station, which last week was targeted by a bomb and knife attack the government has blamed on religious extremists.

“We come this far because the wages are good,” Shi Hongjiang, 26, from the southwestern metropolis of Chongqing, told Reuters outside the station. “Also, the Uighur population is small. There aren’t enough of them to do the work.”

Shi’s is a common refrain from migrant workers, whose experience finding low-skilled work is very different to that of the Muslim Uighur minority.

Employment discrimination, experts say, along with a demographic shift that many Uighurs feel is diluting their culture, is fuelling resentment that spills over into violent attacks directed at Han Chinese, China’s majority ethnic group.

The apparent suicide attack on the station, which killed one bystander, was the latest violence to hit Xinjiang, despite a pledge from China’s President Xi Jinping to rain “crushing blows against violent terrorist forces”.

via In China’s Xinjiang, economic divide seen fuelling ethnic unrest | Reuters.

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07/05/2014

China detains five activists before 25th anniversary of Tiananmen crackdown | Reuters

China on Tuesday detained five rights activists, three lawyers and a rights group said, after they attended a weekend meeting that called for a probe into the suppression of pro-democracy protests in Tiananmen Square in 1989.

Chinese lawyer Pu Zhiqiang (R) speaks to journalists outside a courthouse in Chongqing municipality, December 28, 2012. REUTERS/Stringer

Among those held was Pu Zhiqiang, a prominent free-speech lawyer, who has represented many dissidents, including artist Ai Weiwei and an activist of the “New Citizens’ Movement”, a group that urges Chinese leaders to disclose their assets. He was detained on a charge of “causing a disturbance”, two lawyers said.

He has also opposed the system of forced labor camps, which the government has abolished, and featured prominently in state media for that campaign – unusual for a government critic.

Also detained were dissident Liu Di and Xu Youyu, a professor with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, a government think-tank, rights lawyer Shang Baojun said, citing conversations he had with family members of Liu and Xu.

Shang said he did not know what charge Liu and Xu would face as the families have not received their detention notices.

Dissident Hu Shigen and Hao Jian, who teaches at the Beijing Film Academy, were also detained, according to Chinese Human Rights Defenders, a China-based rights advocacy group.

The detentions raised the stakes in a crackdown on dissent and underscored the sensitivity of Chinese leaders to criticism ahead of the 25th anniversary of the crushing of demonstrations around Tiananmen Square in Beijing on June 4, 1989.

via China detains five activists before 25th anniversary of Tiananmen crackdown | Reuters.

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12/03/2014

Police: Rebels kill 18 soldiers in central India – Businessweek

Police say Maoist rebels have killed 18 paramilitary soldiers in an ambush in central India.

Mukesh Gupta said rebels ambushed a paramilitary camp on Tuesday in a remote and dense forest in Chattisgarh state.

The police said the rebels surrounded the camp and opened fire, killing 18 instantly. Several others were injured in the attack in the Jiram Ghati area in southern Chattisgarh.

The rebels, who say they are inspired by Chinese revolutionary leader Mao Zedong, have been fighting for more than three decades in several Indian states, demanding land and jobs for agricultural laborers and the poor.

via Police: Rebels kill 18 soldiers in central India – Businessweek.

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07/03/2014

China’s restless West: The burden of empire | The Economist

After a brutal attack in China, the Communist Party needs to change its policies towards minorities

A GROUP of knife-wielding assailants, apparently Muslims from western China, caused mayhem and murder on March 1st in the south-western Chinese city of Kunming, stabbing 29 people to death at the railway station and injuring 140 others. The attack has shocked China. The crime against innocents is monstrous and unjustifiable, and has been rightly condemned by the Chinese government and by America. But as well as rounding up the culprits, the Communist Party must face up to an uncomfortable truth. Its policy for integrating the country’s restless western regions—a policy that mixes repression, development and Han-Chinese migration—is failing to persuade non-Han groups of the merits of Chinese rule.

The party says the attackers were “Xinjiang extremists”, by implication ethnic Uighurs, a Turkic people with ties to Central Asia who once formed the majority in the region of Xinjiang. The killers may have been radicalised abroad with notions of global jihad. Whatever the truth, there is no doubt that Uighurs are committing ever more desperate acts. Scarcely a week passes in Xinjiang without anti-government violence.

The party claims that Xinjiang has been part of China for 2,000 years. Yet for most of that time, the region has been on the fringe of China’s empire, or outside it altogether. An attempt to incorporate these lands began only with the Qing dynasty’s conquests in the mid-18th century. (The name Xinjiang, “new frontier”, was bestowed only in the 1880s.) During the chaos of the 1940s, Uighurs declared a short-lived independent state of East Turkestan. But from 1949 the Communists began integrating Xinjiang into China by force. Demobbed Chinese soldiers were sent to colonise arid lands, the state repression of Uighurs drawing heavily on the Soviet tactics for handling “nationalities”. Uighur resentment of the Han runs deep. The feeling is mutual. Many Chinese are openly racist towards Uighurs, and the government thinks them ungrateful. In 2009 hundreds of people were killed during street fighting between Uighurs and Han, who now make up two-fifths of Xinjiang’s population and control a disproportionate share of its wealth.

Identity crisis

The Kunming killers’ motives may never be known. But fears of militant Islamism arriving at the heart of China must not obscure the broader problem of Chinese oppression in Xinjiang. Recent crackdowns hit at the heart of Uighur identity: students are banned from fasting during Ramadan, religious teaching for children is restricted, and Uighur-language education is limited. Many Uighurs, like their neighbours in Tibet, fear that their culture will be extinguished. Xinjiang and Tibet (and Inner Mongolia) are still China’s colonies, their pacification under the Communist Party a continued imperial project. Were it not for the Dalai Lama’s restraining influence, violence in Tibet might be as bad as it is in Xinjiang. As it is, over 100 Tibetans have burned themselves to death in protest at Chinese rule.

There is a large military presence in China’s west. The government seems to believe that unless Uighurs and Tibetans are held in check by force, the western regions could break away. That is always a danger. But suppression, which leads to explosions of anger, may increase the risk, not mitigate it.

The only way forward is to show Uighurs (and Tibetans) how they can live peacefully and prosperously together within China. The first step is for the party to lift the bans on religious and cultural practices, give Uighurs and Tibetans more space to be themselves, and strive against prejudice in Chinese society. Economic development needs to be aimed at Uighur and Tibetan communities. Otherwise, there will be more violence and instability.

via China’s restless West: The burden of empire | The Economist.

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28/02/2014

* Report Details India’s Worst Recent Human Rights Abuses – India Real Time – WSJ

Abuses by the police and security forces including extrajudicial killings, torture and rape, as well as corruption at all levels of government, are the most significant human rights problems in India, according to a report commissioned by the U.S. Congress and published by the State Department this week.

The world’s largest democracy is also dogged by separatist violence, life-threatening prison conditions, sex trafficking of children and an atmosphere of impunity resulting from the overburdened judicial system, the “India 2013 Human Rights Report” said.

The 68-page document, released by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Thursday to mark the 65th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights sets out a timeline of recent human rights abuses by the police, bureaucrats and security forces.

The U.S. report found continuing allegations that the police raped women, including while in police custody. Tribal girls were gang-raped in government hostels, and 48,338 child-rape cases were recorded from 2001 to 2011, the authors said.

“Some rape victims were afraid to come forward and report the  crime due to social stigma and possible acts of retribution, compounded by lack of oversight and accountability, especially if the perpetrator was a police officer or other official,” they added.

The Armed Forces Special Powers Act, which gives state governments the right to declare any state a “disturbed area,” allowing security forces to fire on any person to maintain law and order and to arrest anyone without informing the detainee of the reason for doing so, was also a cause for concern, according to the report. The law gives security forces immunity from civilian prosecution in regions where it operates.

A government-commissioned report on changes needed to the law after the gang rape of a young woman in Delhi in Dec. 2012 had said the AFSPA was being used to legitimize “impunity for systematic or isolated sexual violence in the process of internal security duties” and needed to be reviewed. The government had taken no action in this direction during 2013, according to the authors of the human rights report.

They also provided evidence of a complaint long-held by Indians: that corruption exists at all levels of government and leads to a denial ofjustice.

Nonprofit organizations, the report said, had noted that bribes typically were paid to expedite services, such as police protection, school admission, water supply, or government assistance.

“The CBI [Central Bureau of Investigation] registered 583 cases of corruption between the months of January and November,” of last year the report said.

via Report Details India’s Worst Recent Human Rights Abuses – India Real Time – WSJ.

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01/12/2013

Xinjiang college says approved political views needed to graduate | Reuters

College students in China\’s restive western Xinjiang region will not graduate unless their political views are approved, a university official said, as the country wages what school administrators called an ideological war against separatism.

A Uighur student attends a lesson at the Xinjiang College of Uighur Medicine in Hotan in the southwestern part of China's Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region September 15, 2003. REUTERS/Andrew Wong

Xinjiang is home to the Muslim Uighur ethnic group, many of whom resent controls imposed by Beijing and an inflow of Han Chinese migrants. Some Uighur groups are campaigning for an independent homeland for their people.

University officials from Xinjiang said their institutions were a frontline in a \”life and death struggle\” for the people\’s hearts and a main front in the battle against separatism, the ruling Communist Party\’s official newspaper in the region, the Xinjiang Daily, reported on Tuesday.

\”Students whose political qualifications are not up to par must absolutely not graduate, even if their professional course work is excellent,\” said Xu Yuanzhi, the party secretary at Kashgar Teachers College in southern Xinjiang, which has been an epicenter for ethnic unrest.

It is unclear if such a policy has been officially implemented throughout the region.

\”Ideology is a battlefield without gun smoke,\” Xinjiang Normal University President Weili Balati said.

\”As university leaders, we have the responsibility to do more to help students and teachers properly understand and treat religion, ethnicity and culture and help them distinguish between right and wrong,\” he said.

China blamed the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) for an attack on October 28, when a vehicle ploughed through bystanders on Tiananmen Square in Beijing and burst into flames, killing three people in the car and two bystanders.

Uighur exiles, rights groups and some experts have cast doubt on the official accounts of what China has deemed terror attacks and foreign reporting of the incident has discussed whether it was motivated by punitive ethnic policies.

An Islamist militant group has released a speech claiming responsibility for the incident, which China\’s Foreign Ministry said should silence those who are skeptical about the threat of terror within China\’s borders.

The Uighurs are culturally closer to ethnic groups across central Asia and Turkey than the Han Chinese who make up the vast majority of China\’s population.

via Xinjiang college says approved political views needed to graduate | Reuters.

04/11/2013

In China’s Xinjiang, poverty, exclusion are greater threat than Islam | Reuters

If the analysis in this report is correct, then it is good news for China and Xinjiang. Alleviating poverty is difficult, but far easier than eliminating religious extremism.

“In the dirty backstreets of the Uighur old quarter of Xinjiang\’s capital Urumqi in China\’s far west, Abuduwahapu frowns when asked what he thinks is the root cause of the region\’s festering problem with violence and unrest.

A police officer stops a car to check for identifications at a checkpoint near Lukqun town, in Xinjiang province in this October 30, 2013 file photo. REUTERS/Carlos Barria/Files

\”The Han Chinese don\’t have faith, and the Uighurs do. So they don\’t really understand each other,\” he said, referring to the Muslim religion the Turkic-speaking Uighur people follow, in contrast to the official atheism of the ruling Communist Party.

But for the teenage bread delivery boy, it\’s not Islam that\’s driving people to commit acts of violence, such as last week\’s deadly car crash in Beijing\’s Tiananmen Square – blamed by the government on Uighur Islamist extremists who want independence.

\”Some people there support independence and some do not. Mostly, those who support it are unsatisfied because they are poor,\” said Abuduwahapu, who came to Urumqi two years ago from the heavily Uighur old Silk Road city of Kashgar in Xinjiang\’s southwest, near the Pakistani and Afghan border.

\”The Han are afraid of Uighers. They are afraid if we had guns, we would kill them,\” he said, standing next to piles of smoldering garbage on plots of land where buildings have been demolished.

China\’s claims that it is fighting an Islamist insurgency in energy-rich Xinjiang – a vast area of deserts, mountains and forests geographically located in central Asia – are not new.”

via In China’s Xinjiang, poverty, exclusion are greater threat than Islam | Reuters.

24/10/2013

In rare move, China regulator voices concern for detained reporter | Reuters

So public protests sometimes works. See also – http://chindia-alert.org/2013/10/23/china-paper-in-detained-journalist-plea-bbc-news/

“China’s central publishing regulator, in a rare acknowledgement of the rights of journalists, expressed concern on Thursday about a detained reporter, a case that has stirred outrage after a newspaper pleaded with police on its front page to let him go.

Chen Yongzhou was detained after writing more than a dozen stories criticizing the finances of a major state-owned construction equipment maker, a move that coincides with new curbs on journalists, lawyers and internet users in China.

“The General Association of Press and Publishing (GAPP) resolutely supports the news media conducting normal interviewing and reporting activities and resolutely protects journalists\’ normal and legal rights to interview,” the China Press and Publishing Journal, which is overseen by the association itself, said, citing an association official.

“At the same time, it resolutely opposes any abuse of the right to conduct interviews.”

The article said the association was paying “close attention” to the matter.”

via In rare move, China regulator voices concern for detained reporter | Reuters.

17/09/2013

China Communist Party investigators tried over drowning

The Communist Party of China seems to be trying hard to apply the ‘rule of law’ to its own cadres.  Must be a good thing.

BBC: “The trial has begun in China of six Communist Party officials accused of causing the death of a man who drowned after his head was repeatedly plunged in icy water during an investigation.

File photo: Yu Qiyi poses for a photo at an exhibition held at a hotel in Beijing, 2 September 2012

Yu Qiyi, the chief engineer of a state-owned company in Wenzhou, was being interrogated by party officials – and not police – when he died on 9 April.

As the trial got under way, the family lawyer said he was ejected from court.

Analysts say the case casts light on the darker side of party discipline.

Indeed the case, which is being heard in the city of Quzhou, appears to be a rare acknowledgement of some of the methods that lie behind the country’s well publicised crackdown on corruption, according to correspondents.

The case is extremely sensitive and the lawyer for Mr Yu’s family has already expressed his anger at being removed from court, saying the legal process was flawed.

Reuters also reports that the lawyer for one of the accused expressed concern about the court’s actions because her client wanted to apologise.

There has been no comment from the lawyers of the other accused men and neither the government nor the Communist Party has commented publicly on the case.”

via BBC News – China Communist Party investigators tried over drowning.

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