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Over 120 Chinese Citizens Appeal the UN Commissioner to Raise Human Rights Issues

Over 120 Chinese citizens has signed an open letter to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNCHR) at Geneva and appealed the Commissioner to raise the human rights issues, according
( [email protected] ) Aug 23, 2005 04:43 AM EDT

Over 120 Chinese citizens has signed an open letter to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNCHR) at Geneva and appealed the Commissioner to raise the human rights issues, according to a Chinese news agency boxun.net.

At the prospect of the UN Commissioner Louise Arbour’s visit to China from late August to early September, in the letter, the Chinese citizens suggested that there is a "glaring discrepancies between actual human rights conditions in our country on the one hand, and, on the other, the international standards, the relevant articles in the PRC Constitution and Chinese laws, and our government's public pledges."

The letter has also criticized the Chinese government for "tightening up its information control and censorship on speech and expression". It said, "the government has invested heavily in deployment of ever more cyberpolice in order to build the world's most comprehensive and sophisticated system of telecommunications surveillance, 'firewalls,' and electronic monitoring, thereby perfecting its censorship and its control of speech."

In addition, "a long list of vocabulary and topics is prohibited in all public media and on the Internet".

Most importantly, the letter has drawn the attention to the increasing threat of religious freedom in China. The Chinese citizens pointed out openly to the UN Commissioner on Human Rights, saying "the government has intensified its repression of ethnic minorities and religious groups that have sought to exercise their religious freedom and cultural rights. Tens of thousands of believers in forbidden faiths and ideas have been subjected to imprisonment. Many have been tortured and subjected to inhumane treatment."

Particularly, in the light of the tremendous growth of the house church movement out of the authorized "Three Self Church" in China, "authorities restrict worship in Christian family churches, criminalize church leaders for printing copies of the Bible, for seeking converts, or for criticizing the government in their preaching", according to the letter.

In the appendix of the letter, 29 cases of unreasonable persecution and imprisonment were listed. Most of them are writers, journalists, editors as well as some Christian leaders who were arrested for printing and distributing the Bible or carrying out other mission work.

The letter concluded with an appeal to the UN Commissioner on Human Rights to pay attention to these facts, especially to the difficulties and risks that Chinese human rights defenders face and raise these issues with Chinese leaders.