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State Visit of Hu Jintao in France: Human Rights Concerns Should Finally Be Addressed!

November 3, 2010

Paris - Brussels - New York, November 3, 2010 – While Mr. Hu Jintao, President of the People's Republic of China and General Secretary of the Communist Party of China is in official visit in France, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and its member organizations, Human Rights in China (HRIC), the International Campaign for Tibet (ICT) and the French League for Human Rights (LDH) call upon the French President, Mr. Sarkozy to put human rights issues at the top of the agenda of the bilateral meetings.

Our organizations have expressed their deep concern regarding the deterioration of human rights in China, in the aftermath of the Olympics and the Shanghai World Expo. According to Human Rights in China nearly forty individuals inside China have been put under house arrest in the weeks following the announcement of Liu Xiaobo’s (刘晓 波) 2010 Nobel Peace Prize. One domestic rights activist pointed out that the intensity and scope of this crackdown exceed those of the crackdowns for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the signing of Charter 08, and the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 2009. Other observers predict that the crackdown will continue and that more people will likely be placed under house arrest.

In addition to the continuous harassment and intimidation against Chinese civil society and human rights defenders, the authorities continue to violate basic rights of persons belonging to ethnic minorities. According to the International Campaign for Tibet, several protests were held two weeks ago by Tibetan school and college students over new measures that focus on Chinese as the main language of instruction with the Tibetan language to be treated only as a language class, and with less time allocated to it in the curriculum. The protests spread from several areas of Qinghai to Beijing, involving thousands of Tibetan students. The scale of the protests across Tibet reflects the strength of feeling among Tibetans about the marginalization and erosion of their language, the bedrock of Tibetan identity, religion and culture. More than 300 teachers and students from Qinghai signed a petition in support of Tibetan language. Security has been intensified in the areas where students protested, with sources in the area reporting the detention of more than 20 students from the Tibetan Middle School in Chabcha on October 22. FIDH, HRIC, ICT and LDH note that members of the Uyghur minority have also long endured erosion of their language rights throughout schools in Xinjiang.

While the world concentrates its attention and efforts onto the economic ties with China, several issues of concern remain without adequate response from the international community. The serious and chronic deficiencies of the Chinese legal system, in particular inadequate due process protections, the criminal procedure, thoroughly documented by human rights group, and the comprehensive notorious state secrets system legislation have created favorable conditions for impunity. Fundamental safeguards entrenched by international human rights standards and by the Chinese Constitution are not met, despite declarations to the contrary by the officials.

FIDH, HRIC, ICT and LDH call upon Mr. Sarkozy to address these crucial issues during his meeting with the Chinese delegation and press China to take immediate measures towards the concrete improvement of its human rights record. France should demand the immediate release of the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Liu Xiaobo and all other human rights defenders and activists under detention. Furthermore, France should request the publication of statistics and other relevant information regarding the application of capital punishment in China. France and the European Union, in the framework of the bilateral EU - China dialogue on human rights, should ensure that the rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly as well as the rights of persons belonging to minorities are duly respected by the Chinese authorities.

As China moves ahead as a major power at the international level, the international community must send a strong message that such role also carries the responsibility to respect universal human rights principles. Our Organizations regret that in the past this message was not effectively delivered to the Chinese authorities. We sincerely hope that this occasion will not be lost.

 
FIDH : Karine Appy / Fabien Maitre : + 33 1 43 55 25 18
ICT:Vincent Metten, Directeur européen, Tel.: +32 (0)2 6094410
HRIC: Mi Ling Tsui, Communications and Media Director, Tel.: 001 212-239-4495.
LDH: Elisabeth Allès, China Expert +33 (0)6 19 21 39 60

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