Safety of Human Rights Activists in China Remains Disturbing

Safety of Human Rights Activists in China Remains Disturbing
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While China recently released Peter Dahlin, a Swedish human rights activist, dozens of people remain detained, including foreigners and Chinese citizens.

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Translated and compiled by Yuan-ling Liang

Detained for nearly a month, Swedish rights activist Peter Dahlin has finally been released and deported from China. A Swedish diplomat says it’s comforting to know that Dahlin can finally reunite with his family, but Hong Kong-Swedish bookseller Gui Min-hai’s case is still disturbing.

Peter Dahlin was arrested by the Beijing government in early January when he was preparing to leave for Thailand. On January 19, China Central Television( CCTV) reported that Dahlin was suspected of being involved in a campaign which “endangers national security.” He formed an organization, accepting foreign financial support and carrying out “criminal activities." In a short video created by Chinese officials, Dahlin said, “My actions hurt the relationships between the Chinese government and their citizens," and was against the Chinese law. He will not be filing complaints regarding his detention.

According to Xinhua News Agency, Dahlin was described as a “spy placed in China’s region from the western anti-China forces.” He and Wang Jin-zhang, a human rights lawyer from China, received a great amount of financial aid from foreigners under the name, “Chinese Urgent Action Working Group,” registered as a non-profit organization Joint Development Institute Limited (JDI) in Hong Kong. They collect negative conditions in China and exaggerate the distorted facts to overseas Chinese. They even provided so-called human rights reports to provoke social conflicts.

The staff of the “Chinese Urgent Action Working Group" says that there are still many Chinese human rights activists who have been assisted by Dahlin that are still imprisoned. Dahlin’s Chinese girlfriend, Pan Jin-ling, has already been released.

The EU issued a statement earlier regarding the incident, referring to China’s disturbing aptitude in detaining human rights activists. Dahlin is just is one of the cases, raising suspicion about China’s respect for the law as well as China’s commitment to fulfilling its international human rights obligations. Deep concerns of EU citizens towards the public confession on CCTV have also been stressed.

The Swedish Embassy ​​says their consultants have been requesting China for access to Gui Min-hai, but China keeps rejecting. The embassy also says that the action of asking Dahlin and Gui to plead guilty publicly is rather disturbing. “China should have canceled such a public review mechanism decades ago, yet the phenomenon has been more and more widespread." It emphasized that the arrested people should make their statement in court with the presence of their defense lawyers, rather than plead guilty on television.

While Hong Kong and Sweden are concerned about foreign activists’ safety, Zhao Wei, a 23-year-old legal assistant from mainland China, is still under detention. Having thrown herself into social works and campaigns on LGBT rights and HIV awareness, Zhao passed the bar exam and was hired as a lawyer in the Fengrui law firm, intending to defend for political criminals. Last year, she was reported to be arrested in July by the Chinese government, while her colleague Wang Yu, also formally arrested for subversion.

Chinese law expert, Eva Pils, says that China authorities attack rights lawyers in order to crack down on civil society and that they regard these human rights lawyers as enemies of the people.

Edited by Olivia Yang

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