China jailing more political dissidents: Human rights report finds rising numbers held, especially in Tibet

WHILE China's economic reforms were forging ahead, 1993 was at the same time the worst year for political arrests and trials in China since mid- 1990, particularly in Tibet.

According to a study, (Detained in China and Tibet: A Directory of Political and Religious Prisoners. Published by Asia Watch, a division of Human Rights Watch), published today by Asia Watch, the independent New York- based human rights organisation, 'China's record for 1993 speaks for itself: accountability was minimal, access was nil and a handful of releases were accompanied by a wave of new arrests. In retrospect, it looks more like regress than progress.'

Accurate information about political and religious detainees in China is extremely difficult and risky to obtain and any list is bound to be an under-estimate. Nevertheless, Asia Watch has compiled information on some 1,700 people known or believed to be presently imprisoned in connection with their political, ethnic or religious views. About 1,230 of these are detained or convicted solely on account of non-violent beliefs or activities.

The dissident cases range from those arrested during the late 1970s to people picked up just last month. Asia Watch's information about last year's arrests shows how economic liberalisation in China has not yet been accompanied by any loosening up on the political front. Overall, the situation was the worst since the crackdown after the June 1989 pro- democracy movement.

Asia Watch documented nearly 250 new political arrests and trials, and a further 140 cases where names were unknown. Against this, just 37 dissidents were released, including several high-profile individuals, such as Wei Jingsheng, who were let out in the run-up to the vote on whether Peking would host the 2,000 Olympics.

Of the detailed 250 cases last year, about 80 per cent occurred in Tibet where the Chinese government intensified its campaign against peaceful pro-independence activities by Buddhist monks and nuns. Most of those imprisoned Tibetans have been convicted of 'counter-revolution'; according to official statements, the proportion of 'counter-revolutionaries' to common criminals in Tibetan jails today is more than 20 times higher than in the rest of China.

Asia Watch has also attempted to assemble a sub-list of all those in China specifically detained as 'counter-revolutionaries', where 10 out of 12 of the charges can carry the death penalty. So far, Asia Watch's list includes more than 1,200 names; Chinese officials last year admitted to 3,317 imprisoned 'counter-revolutionaries'. This latter figure would not include those sentenced without trial to labour re-education.

The Asia Watch report coincides with the start of serious debate in Washington over whether China's Most-Favoured Nation (MFN) trading status should be renewed in June. Last year, President Bill Clinton made renewal conditional on wide-ranging human rights improvements, including greater religious freedom in Tibet and access to political prisoners.

On Asia Watch's 'priority list', which it suggests should be the yardstick for judging overall human rights progress, are almost 100 non-violent political, ethnic or religious prisoners, most of whom were sentenced during the past five years, all serving terms of 10 years to life imprisonment.

The low standards of judicial practice in China, where verdicts are often pre-determined, confessions obtained through torture and there is no real chance of appeal, mean that even those supposedly convicted for criminal acts may have been subject to very rough justice because of their political views. Asia Watch has therefore documented a further 460 people detained or convicted for such criminal acts allegedly committed during pro-democracy or religious activities.

Asia Watch is calling for adequate accounting for the status and whereabouts of all those on its lists, and also for the government to supply copies of court verdicts or police sentencing documents.

(Detained in China and Tibet: A Directory of Political and Religious Prisoners. Published by Asia Watch, a division of Human Rights Watch)

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Extras
indybest
Travel
Flocking round: Beyoncé, Madame Tussauds' latest waxwork, looking fierce in the park
travelIn a digital age when we have more access than ever to the stars, why are waxworks still pulling in crowds?
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Judi Dench appeared at the Hay Festival to perform excerpts from Shakespearean plays
tvJudi Dench and Hugh Bonneville join Benedict Cumberbatch in BBC Shakespeare adaptations
Sport
Is this how Mario Balotelli will cruise into Liverpool?
football
News
Ronahi Serhat, a PKK fighter, in the Qandil Mountains in Iraqi Kurdistan
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Poet’s corner: Philip Larkin at the venetian window of his home in 1958
booksOr caring, playful man who lived for others? A new book has the answer
Arts and Entertainment
Exhibition at the Centre Pompidou in Metz - 23 May 2012
art
News
Matthew McConaughey and his son Levi at the game between the Boston Red Sox and the Houston Astros at Fenway Park on August 17, 2014 in Boston, Massachusetts.
advertisingOscar-winner’s Lincoln deal is latest in a lucrative ad production line
Arts and Entertainment
Alfred Molina, left, and John Lithgow in a scene from 'Love Is Strange'
film
News
i100
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost, Data Mining

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost...

Service Desk Analyst- (Desktop Support, Help desk)

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst- (Desktop Su...

Junior Quant Analyst (Machine Learning, SQL, Brokerage)

£30000 - £50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Junior Quant Analyst (Machine Lea...

UNIX Application Support Analyst- Support, UNIX, London

£45000 - £55000 per annum: Harrington Starr: UNIX Application Support Analyst-...

Day In a Page

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

Nick Clegg the movie

Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

Waxing lyrical

Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

Revealed (to the minute)

The precise time when impressionism was born
10 best men's skincare products

Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention