EU addresses the conviction of human rights activists in China

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The European Union has issued a statement on the conviction of four Chinese lawyers and human rights activists accused of state subversion in China. The sentences ranged from suspended prison terms to seven years of prison.

The statement was made on 5 August and was also released by the Danish Embassy in Beijing.

“The conviction this week of Zhai Yanmin, Hu Shigen, Zhou Shifeng and Gou Hongguo, detained since mid-2015 as part of a wave of detentions of more than 300 lawyers and human rights defenders, runs contrary to China’s stated commitment to strengthening the rule of law,” a spokesperson from the EU said.

“The Chinese authorities should abide by China’s international obligations, including respect for the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. They should respect the rights of all citizens, as recognised by the Chinese Constitution, and release all those detained for seeking to protect these rights,” the spokesperson added.

The hard line towards human rigths activists in China have also affected Scandinavian citizens. For instance, in January 2016, Mr. Peter Dahlin, a Swedish citizen and co-founder of the human rights organization Chinese Urgent Action Working Group (China Action), was detained by Chinese authorities until the end of the month, where he was released and expelled from the country. At that point, the EU also adressed China in a statement, demanding Mr. Dahlin’s release.  

“The EU expects a swift resolution of this case in accordance with international human rights standards,” a spokesperson from the EU said in January 2016.

Peter-Dahlin-China

Mr. Peter Dahlin

Now, the EU has made a similar statement that calls for the release of the sentenced and for China to live up to international human rights.

“The lack of adherence in the trials to China’s own Criminal Procedure Law, the many infringements of the defendants’ rights to a proper defence, including the lack of access to lawyers of their own choice, as well as preventing detainees’ family members from attending the trials, are contrary to Chinese and international law,” a spokesperson from the EU said.

“The EU calls for the immediate release of those who have just been sentenced and the reinstatement of their right to practise their profession. All charges still pending against the other lawyers and human rights defenders detained since July 2015 should be dropped. China should allow trial observation by foreign diplomats,” the spokesperson added.

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