With China being given the honor to host the 2008 Olympics, the social standings of the country and the way that the Chinese government governs its people has been seen as customary by many. But what the majority of people around the world are unaware about is the intense human rights disorder from which countless innocent Chinese citizens have suffered and continue to be a part of. The momentous havoc that China faces is the simple and bold fact that the Central Chinese government is deficient and ignorant when it comes to upholding human rights. The consequence of this predicament has resulted into other dilemmas which include the harassment and prosecution of lawyers who attempt to defend and stand for human right issues, the suppression of religion, free speech and personal choice, and the lack of judicial independence and due process. The strict and immoral conditions which are imposed on the everyday lives of the Chinese have resulted in the death of numerous innocent citizens, not to mention the anguish and distress that the people of China have recognized.
Harassment of lawyers by local government has become a very common occurrence in China, and while lawyers are prosecuted and assailed, the central government is doing nothing to discontinue this unrighteous prosecution.(Human Rights Watch) With minimum legal protections, the people of China are forced to face the harsh human rights conditions unaided . Although human rights were granted to the people of China, they are however not upheld by a Central Chinese government that has communistic policies and rarely reenforced. In present time, Hong Kong, Chinese lawyers who attempt to defend human rights and expose the absence of an independent judiciary are being harassed and attacked by the state government. Sophie Richardson, deputy director of the Asia division of Human Rights Watch quotes, “It’s unclear whether China’s central authorities have ordered, condoned or ignored the recent attacks on lawyers. But it’s crystal clear that the government should uphold the law and stop this blatantly illegal persecution of lawyers”.(Human Rights Watch)
Because of his attempt to defend victims of severe government violation and power abuse, Beijing lawyer Gao Zhisheng was detained on the 15th of August on charges of alleged involvement in criminal activity. In 2005, authorities stripped Gao of his right to practice law. This is just one of many example of how the state government is not just interfering but even assailing lawyers, and how the central government needs to take notice of this and discontinue it, as the human rights of a nation are at stake.
Throughout the history of China, the people of China had suffered suppression of religion, free speech, and personal choice. This doctorial movement still continues even today, and influences the daily lives of the Chinese. In 1950, all religious activities outside establishments registered under the official branches of four state-recognized religions (which included, Buddhism, Taoism, Christianity, and Islam) were prohibited by the People’s Republic of China government. Individuals who conducting or were in any way found involved in the act of publicized worship or practice of religion (including Protestants and Catholics who secretly worship in house churches without the authorization of the government) were known to be fined, detained, arrested, placed into internal exile, or close police supervision, and in some serious cases, even tortured. Since the year of 1989, PRC police have closed hundreds of house churches and have confiscated religious literature and church property.
Suppression of free speech is another issue that the people of China are forced to face daily. This is a major concern for which many Chinese citizens are unrightfully prosecuted for. Freedom of speech is controlled so that even something such as putting political material on the Internet or writing a simple statement about the importance of freedom of speech can land a Chinese citizen in jail. Many examples exist of this unrighteous activity and many innocent victims have told their grotesque stories of abuse and discrimination by the local government over the issue of free speech.
After publishing articles memorializing the protests in Tiananmen Square in 1989 in which thousands of people were reported to have been killed by the Chinese military during the breakup of the protest on his web site, computer engineer Huang Qi was arrested. The information that resulted in his prosecution, was a description of the democracy movement, the independence movement in the northwest Muslim of Xinjiang, and other political material. According to Human rights watch, based in New York, Huang Qi had fainted in the period of the hearing, had looked like he had lost weight, and allegedly had been beaten while in custody. (CNN)
Even today, very few legal safeguards exist to guarantee an equally fair trial in China. The Chinese judicial system is at every stage dictatorially controlled by Chinese Communist Party political legal committees that have the ability to determine the result of numerous court cases even before the court is given an opportunity to hear the evidence presented at the trial. To this act of, “verdict first, trial second” legal scholars within China have attempted to put an end to, but as long as political-legal committees exist, and continue to overlook and reside in the policies of the Chinese judicial system, detainees are immensely unlikely to be given unbiased hearings, free of official mistreatment.
The official, Criminal Procedure Law of China allows for detainees to have contact with lawyers no later than one week before the beginning of the trial. But even this minimal protection is not at all times observed. In most cases, Chinese prisoners are not even allowed to call up witnesses for defense, or even question witnesses against them. In such cases that correlate with or include political involvement, lawyers have been ordered that they may only enter a not-guilty plea if they receive authorization from the judicial administration. Even in cases involving the death penalty, defendants would only be given an undersized time period of only several days to file an appeal, which are frequently superficial. (The Human Rights Facts Sheet)
Human rights issues such as lawyer harassment, suppression of religion, free speech and lack of judicial independence are actual today in China today, and until the day that the central government makes the decision to step in, uphold the law, and make an effort to resolve the communistic regime that the Chinese people suffer for to this day, these issues that affect the lives of an entire nation, will continue.
The Human Rights Facts Sheet. Rengal, Pat/ Legislative Council,
Lack of Judicial Independence. July 17, 2008.
CNN.com Shiffrin Anya, China, The Net and Free Speech. July 20, 2008.
Christus Rex “Tiananmen 1989”. June 4th, 1999. July 22,2008.
Human Rights Watch.
Must End crackdown on Lawyers. July 20, 2008.