China Continues to Crack Down on Human Rights Activists in 2012

By Alison Searle

The Chinese government recently sentenced three prominent activists to lengthy prison sentences, confirming that human rights standards in the country continue to fall in 2012.  This week Li Tie, a longtime human rights defender and writer, was sentenced to ten years after the court denied him his own lawyer, instead insisting he use a government-appointed one.

These three court decisions have fallen under the “subversion of state power” umbrella, enabling the authorities to hand down lengthy sentences.

The UN released a statement denouncing the recent crackdown: “We are very disturbed by this trend of severe suppression of dissent in the country, which appears to be designed to intimidate.”  U.S. Ambassador Gary Locke corroborated this sentiment in an interview earlier this week, stating, “The human rights climate has always ebbed and flowed in China, up and down, but we seem to be in a down period and it’s getting worse.”

Human Rights First urges Chinese authorities to stop punishing human rights defenders for exercising their universal right to freedom of expression.  We call on the U.S. government to make clear to Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping that China’s human rights record remains a serious obstacle to US-China relations.  Xi Jinping is due to visit Washington, D.C. in the coming months.

For more information on human rights defenders in China, click here.


Published on January 20, 2012


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