Tuesday, March 25, 2008
ARE RIGHTS MORE IMPORTANT THAN OLYMPICS?
he more basic question is: Where are people allowed to say yes to the first question, and where are they not?
Many supporters of fundamental rights for Tibetans are campaigning for the principle that human rights must take precedence, even over such a major event as the Olympics. Some international political figures are already taking this stance, most recently the president of the European Union parliament. But within China, expressing this sentiment is a criminal offence. Apparently, it's a trick question there.
The Chinese dissident Yang Chunlin was sentenced yesterday to five years in jail after being convicted of subversion. He had helped villagers in northeastern region of China to put together a petition about disputed land rights, which declared: "We don't want the Olympics, we want human rights."
Yang's sister, Yang Chunping, said on Monday the reason he was jailed was because of essays he posted online that were critical of China's parliament, the ruling Communist Party and Communism in general.Prosecutors in the case said the petition "stained China's international image" and was equivalent to subversion.
Yet China's Foreign Minister just last month claimed that everyone in China has the freedom to answer yes to the title's question.
During a visit to Beijing by British Foreign Secretary David Milibank in late February, China's Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi defended China's rights record. "People in China enjoy extensive freedom of speech," Yang told reporters. "No one will get arrested because he said that human rights are more important than the Olympics. This is impossible.Well, we see Yang Chunlin going to jail right now. So much for the expectation of truth from CCP ministers.
"Ask 10 people from the street to face public security officers and ask them to say 'human rights are more important than the Olympics' 10 times or even 100 times, and I will see which security officer would put him in jail."
After a 30 minute hearing, the sentence was read out. His wife was present in the court, and she fainted. Mr. Yang tried to reach out to her:
'At this moment, a police officer electrocuted Yang several times with an electric baton,' his sister, Yang Chunping, who was in court, told dpa by telephone.She's right -- it's not a crime to speak one's conscience. The Chinese regime even claims it's not a crime. Except whenever they decide it is, apparently.
Yang, 52, was holding his stomach and appeared in a lot of pain after the attack, his sister said.
'Then my brother was thrown into a police car,' she said.
Yang refused to sign the official record of the trial because he disagreed with the charges.
'He said that speaking freely is not committing a crime,' Yang Chunping said.