Freedom House slams China as repression grows on fears of MidEast democratic contagion

China has intensified repression amid fears that the democratic revolutions sweeping the Middle East could inspire its own people.

Ai Weiwei: Free him now
The Commentator
On 7 April 2011 06:03

Freedom House has issued a stinging rebuke to China after the communist authorities launched a new wave of oppression on fears of a contagion effect from democratic uprisings across the Middle East.

The Washington based human rights watchdog spoke in a press release yesterday of “a troubling wave of disappearances of Chinese activists” involving over 30 people, while 200 more were under house arrest or close surveillance.

“Since a series of messages calling for a protest-driven ‘Jasmine Revolution’ in China were circulated on the internet in mid-February, the Chinese government has considerably stepped up its repression of free speech and activism online,” the press release said.

“Over two dozen people have been detained on criminal charges including ‘inciting subversion,’ and at least one blogger who was detained earlier was recently sentenced to 10 years in prison following an unfair trial”.

Among the detained is the artist Ai Weiwei who helped design the Olympic Stadium in Berlin but then famously staged a boycott at its opening ceremony.

“Chinese leaders’ blatant disregard for the basic rights of their own citizens not only stands in stark contrast with China’s desire to be accepted as a world power, but it also demonstrates a complete deafness to the demands of all peoples to live in dignity, a sentiment being so clearly expressed right now in the Middle East,” said Paula Schriefer, director of advocacy at Freedom House.

Freedom House timed its announcement to coincide with a visit to be Beijing by Kurt Campbell, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs.

“The U.S., as one of the few countries with the economic might to influence Beijing, needs to step up its game and deliver a clear message to the Communist Party that its actions are a major impediment to strong bilateral relations between the two world powers,” said Schriefer.  

“Such a message will also send an important reminder to China’s activist community that they have not been abandoned by the outside world.”

Despite having one of the worst human rights records in the world, China is an active member of the United Nations Human Rights Council.

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