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Scrutiny
 
CHINA: ARREST OF POLITICAL ACTIVIST
Case for a soft dragon!
China is quite concerned after the ‘Jasmine wave’ extended to the Middle East. But its response is worthy of condemnation
Issue Date - 09/06/2011
 
Freedom is a birthright, but China seems to believe that economic growth is a very viable substitute. However, post the events in Tunisia & Egypt, China seems to be much more paranoid than ever before.

Firstly, China has increased its defence budget and increased salaries of internal police personnel; ostensibly to avoid the horror of a revolt in uniform, even as it imprisons political activists recklessly. The recent arrest of artist and political activist Ai Weiwei is a case in point. Ai, who openly called for political reforms, was arrested on April 3 at the Beijing Airport on grounds of financial fraud. His friend, Zuoxiao Zuzhou, a Chinese rock star who was trying to urge people to support Ai, was also detained later. His crime was that he displayed “Free Ai Weiwei” in a live concert. Nobel laureate Liu Xiabao is still serving his sentence.

In a span of just a few days, four veteran activists – Liu Xianbin, Ran Yunfei, Ding Mao and Chen Wei – were arrested. The minimum sentence has gone up from 3 years to 10. Gao Zhisheng, a Christian human rights lawyer, was sentenced for subversion after he wrote open letters to the European parliament and US Congress calling for reform. The torture on him has been so severe that he twice tried to kill himself. Since 2010, there is no word about him. Reportedly, over 7-8 million Chinese are currently imprisoned and around 5000 face the death penalty every year, higher than the rest of the world put together.

Fourteen years ago, Libya was on the Chair of the UN Human Rights Council. Later, they were removed. Similar steps need to be taken against China. While the country wields enormous power and influence, the human rights issue has to be taken up more stringently with a country that even supports extremist states like Pakistan globally!

 

Akram Hoque           

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