Reading out Articles from Universal Declaration of Human Rights on Human Rights Day 2013
English version after an extract in Chinese
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On Human Rights Day, Tuesday 10 December 2013 7pm-8.30pm, around 50 human rights activists held vigil outside Chinese Embassy in London, to read out Articles from Universal Declaration of Human Rights and prisoner of conscience cases that relate to those articles. Activists also delivered a giant postcard to the Chinese Embassy. The postcard image features a word cloud made up of key words from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The reverse of the postcard features key asks of the Chinese government, in particular to uphold universally accepted human rights for all its citizens.
During the vigil & protest, the PR China embassy in London complained that demonstrators intimidated them and told that the police did not allow demonstrators near the embassy door （the embassy staff claimed that the porch area at the front entrance of the Embassy is private property), to avoid a letter of protest. The letter of protest has been posted to the Embassy.
Reading out Articles from Universal Declaration of Human Rights During Vigil & Protest
In the preamble to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights it says, “It is essential, if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that human rights should be protected by the rule of law.”
Tyranny and oppression are two terms that can be used to describe the Chinese Communist Party’s rule since 1949. Rebellion can be seen every day throughout China. Whether it is Chinese people standing up to petition the authorities over forced eviction from their own property, Uyghurs who speak out to protest against the government’s crackdown on free speech, or Tibetans who set fire to themselves in the hope that Beijing will allow the Tibetan people the right to freely worship the Dalai Lama.
Tonight we remember all those human rights defenders and prisoners of conscience who have sacrificed their own freedom and lives in order to promote and protect the human rights of those living under the tyrannical regime of the Chinese Communist Party in East Turkestan, Tibet and across China.
We urge the Chinese government to release all prisoners of conscience immediately and unconditionally. We also demand that all human rights defenders be allowed to express themselves freely without fear of persecution.
We read out a selection of Articles from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and prisoner of conscience cases that relate to those articles. It should be noted that most cases relate to more than one article.
No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
Ablikim Abdureyim, son of the exiled Uyghur democracy leader Rebiya Kadeer, was sentenced to 9 years in prison in 2007 for allegedly “instigating and engaging in secessionist activities”. At his trial he was not given the legal representation of his choice.
Ablikim has been subjected to torture, solitary confinement and suffered from physical ailments throughout his imprisonment.
Rebiya Kadeer said, “My sons’ only crime is their relationship to me. And because the Chinese government is no longer able to silence me, they are going after my family... The time has come for Chinese leaders to end the unlawful, brutal mistreatment of our loved ones.”
All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination.
Gao Zhisheng is a Chinese human rights attorney who has defended activists, ethnic minorities and members of Falun Gong and documented human rights abuses. He has been repeatedly arrested, imprisoned and tortured since 2005. In December 2011, after a 20 month disappearance the Chinese government announced he had been sentenced to three years imprisonment for allegedly violating his parole, though it was not specified which probation rules he had violated.
Ironically, Gao Zhisheng was once praised by the Chinese Ministry of Justice as one of the country’s ten best lawyers. He has now been imprisoned without due process.
In 2009 he wrote, “Not only is it now extremely difficult for me to make my voice heard, but it is also extremely dangerous. In the past three-plus years, the authorities invested a great deal of manpower, physical resources and funds, and employed the most merciless methods, to achieve their goal of silencing me.”
Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him.
Gulmira Imin was sentenced in April 2010 to life imprisonment on charges of “splittism, leaking state secrets, and organising an illegal demonstration”. A local government worker, she also edited a Uyghur language website to which she contributed with poetry, short stories and comments critical of government policies. She was alleged to have helped organise the demonstration in Urumqi on 5 July 2009, which led to many deaths and a major crackdown.
Gulmira was sentenced in April 2010 in a closed trial without due process. She was represented by a lawyer whom she had never met before. She tried to address the court during the trial about torture and other ill-treatment she had suffered during detention but to no avail. She was coerced into signing a document without knowing the content. Her sentence only became public four months later. Since her conviction she has only been allowed to see her lawyer twice, and her appeal was rejected.
Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state. Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.
Wang Bingzhang is a former doctor who gave up his career to promote democracy in China. Having studied and worked abroad for 10 years he was denied re-entry to China in 1989 when he wanted to return to support the Tiananmen Square protests. He secretly returned in 1998 and set up a democratic party but was caught and expelled.
In 2002 he was kidnapped whilst in Vietnam and forcibly returned to China where he was tried in secret and sentenced to life imprisonment in solitary confinement. Despite no evidence or witnesses he was convicted of various sentences including exposing military secrets and plotting to bomb the Chinese embassy in Thailand.
On becoming a democracy activist, Wang Bingzhang said, “The new emerging democratic movement in contemporary China needs activists. From now on, I will put down my beloved physician’s stethoscope and put on that of a social observer to diagnose China’s social ills. I will lay down the cherished scalpels of a surgeon and pick up those of a social reformer to remove the ulcers and tumours of Chinese society. The road ahead will be thorny and arduous, but it will be the road to light and hope.”
Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.
Tenzin Delek Rinpoche, a highly revered Tibetan Buddhist lama and community leader in eastern Tibet, is serving a life sentence for allegedly “conspiring to cause explosions”. He was sentenced to death in 2002 in a closed trial despite no credible evidence linking him to the crime. His death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment in 2005, however his student Lobsang Dhondup who was also found guilty of the same charge was executed.
According to Human Rights Watch, Tenzin Delek Rinpoche’s case “was the culmination of a decade-long effort by Chinese authorities to curb his efforts to foster Tibetan Buddhism, his support for the Dalai Lama as a religious leader, and his work to develop Tibetan social and cultural institutions. His efforts had become a focal point for Tibetans struggling to retain their cultural identity in the face of China’s restrictive policies and its continuing persecution of individuals attempting to push the accepted boundaries of cultural and social expression.”
Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.
Kunsang Bum was one of eight students imprisoned for taking part in a peaceful protest march in eastern Tibet in November 2012. Kunsang received a sentence of 3 years and 6 months after being found guilty of “causing harm to social stability” by “illegally holding a demonstration”.
The students were demonstrating against a new political education drive by the Chinese authorities aimed at schools which denounced the Dalai Lama and those who had protested by self-immolation. The march, which attracted over 1,000 students, was violently dispersed by Chinese police with at least 20 students hospitalised.
During the march the students chanted for “equality of nationalities”, “freedom of language”, “respect for the truth” and the “establishment a new government”.
Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.
Liu Xiaobo was the leading author of Charter 08, published on 10 December 2008, the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Charter 08 calls for multiparty democracy and respect for human rights in China. In 2009, Liu Xiaobo was sentenced to 11 years in prison for “inciting subversion of state power”. In 2010 he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his long-term non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights in China. He is the only Nobel laureate currently in prison.
Liu Xiaobo has written, “Regardless of how great the freedom-denying power of a regime and its institutions is, every individual should still fight to the best of his/her ability to live as a free person, that is, make every effort to live an honest life with dignity.”
He also said, “Freedom of expression is the foundation of human rights, the source of humanity, and the mother of truth. To strangle freedom of speech is to trample on human rights, stifle humanity, and suppress truth.”
Nurmemet Yasin, an author and poet, was arrested in 2004 after the publication of “Wild Pigeon”. The story, which tells the tale of a pigeon who commits suicide to avoid living in captivity, was considered by the Chinese government as a criticism of state control. Yasin was sentenced Yasin to 10 years imprisonment on charges of “inciting separatism”.
Earlier this year, it was reported that Yasin died in 2011 in prison. The Chinese authorities have not confirmed the reports, though Yasin was known to have been suffering from ill-health whilst in prison.
In “Wild Pigeon” Yasin writes, “By caging my body, they hope to enslave my soul.”
The story ends, “The poisons... flow through me like the sound of freedom itself, along with gratitude that now, now, finally, I can die freely. I feel as if my soul is on fire-soaring and free.”
Ugyen Tenzin, a 25 year-old Tibetan singer, is serving a two year jail term for singing songs calling for Tibetan unity and freedom. He was arrested in February 2012, shortly after releasing analbum which included lyrics praising the Dalai Lama.
Ugyen Tenzin was also one of a group of six Tibetan singers who sung an extraordinary and powerful song “Hold Onto the Ancestral Land”. It has become popular amongst Tibetans since a live performance was uploaded onto Youtube following Ugyen’s imprisonment.
The lyrics, translated into English, are as follows:
If there were no dark clouds
The bright light of the sun
Warmth and happiness will spread over the land
The sun’s rays will touch Tibet
If there were no oppressive red laws
With a just and honest law
The land will be ruled with peace
Freedom will come to Tibet
If there is pride in one’s nationality
The fully living culture
Will establish a religious land
The ruddy-faced Tibetans will spread
If there is loving unity
Tibetans living inside and outside
Waiting for the unifying sun
Hold onto the three provinces of the ancestral land
To PRC Ambassador in UK
On the occasion of Human Rights Day 2013, we, Chinese, Uyghur & Tibetan Solidarity UK, urge the Chinese government to uphold and adhere to universally accepted norms on human rights, in particular those defined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
As a re-elected member of the UN Human Rights Council we believe it is imperative that China is seen to be a responsible member of the Council and abide by the conventions to which the UN and the Human Rights Council subscribe. Unless the Chinese government fully respects universally accepted human rights for all its citizens and implements procedures to ensure such rights are maintained, judgements past on the human rights records of other countries would not only be hypocritical but would undermine the integrity of the Human Rights Council itself.
We acknowledge the recent announcements following the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party’s Third Plenum which included the abolition of ‘re-education through labour’ camps and the banning of the use of torture to extract confessions. However, not only must these pledges be fulfilled immediately, but further steps must be taken to protect the human rights of all citizens living in the People’s Republic of China.
In particular, we urge the Chinese government to:
• uphold and adhere to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights;
• ratify the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights;
• change and update its domestic laws to conform with core international human rights conventions;
• abolish all forms of arbitrary detention;
• end the use of the death penalty;
• provide open access to Tibet and East Turkestan, including for foreign media, diplomats and international observers;
• implement the recommendations of the UN Committee Against Torture from China’s review in 2008;
• end the practice of forced organ harvesting.
In particular, we call for the release of all prisoners of conscience. Specifically, we call for the release of:
• Liu Xiaobo, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010 and is serving an 11-year prison sentence for expressing his views on democracy and human rights in China;
• Kerem Abduweli, a Uyghur who has been in prison since 1990 despite a lack of due process and a lack of evidence at his trial;
• Dolma Gyab, a Tibetan whose death sentence was politically motivated and for which the only evidence is a confession suspected to have been extracted under torture.
The Chinese Communist Party needs to recognise that real social stability cannot be achieved through economic development alone. Citizens must be allowed the rights to freedom of expression, assembly, movement, to freely practice their own religion, and all the rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Nelson Mandela, whom President Xi Jinping recognised as “a world renowned politician” who made “outstanding contributions to the progress of mankind”, said:
“To be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.”
Chinese, Uyghur & Tibetan Solidarity UK
Chinese, Uyghur & Tibetan Solidarity UK is made up of the following organisations: Chinese Solidarity Campaign, Federation for Democratic China, Friends of Tiananmen Mothers, Tibetan Community in Britain, Tibet Society, Tibetan Youth UK, Students for a Free Tibet UK, Uyghur Association and Uyghur Community UK.
Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.