Over 100 former political prisoners call for Suu Kyi’s release

Monday, 15 June 2009 15:31

New Delhi (mizzima) – More than 100 former political prisoners world wide, have put their signatures on a statement calling for the release of Burmese democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi and urged the UN Security Council to impose a global arms embargo on Burma.

The former political prisoners from over 20 countries across Asia, Africa, Latin America and Europe have signed a special “64 words to Aung San Suu Kyi”, a campaign that urges Aung San Suu Kyi’s supporters to tweet, write text messages, send videos and photographs to a Website – 64forsuu.org, launched by campaigners on May 27 to mark the Nobel Peace Laureate’s 64th birthday on June 19.

The former political prisoners in their 64 words for Aung San Suu Kyi said, “The continued denial of your freedom unacceptably attacks the human rights of all 2,156 political prisoners in Myanmar. As those also incarcerated for our political beliefs, we share the world’s outrage. We call on the United Nations Security Council to press the Myanmar Government to immediately release all political prisoners, and to restrict weapons that strengthen its hand through a global arms embargo.”

Kim Dae-jung, South Korea’s former President and Nobel Peace Laureate in his words said, “Aung San Suu Kyi’s continued detention shames Asia.”

Malaysia’s Anwar Ibrahim called on the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to scrap its policy of non-interference saying, “ASEAN cannot continue its policy of non-intervention. It’s time to work together for regional stability and prosperity.”

Several signatories are themselves under house arrest including Yuan Weijing and Zeng Jinyan of China. [continues…]


China : News Last Updated: Apr 25, 2009 – 2:32:31 AM My Visit With My Husband Jailed Rights Activist Hu Jia on Wednesday April 22

By chinafreepress.org (translation)
Apr 25, 2009 – 2:31:06 AM

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My Visit With My Husband Jailed Rights Activist Hu Jia on Wednesday April 22
by Zeng Jinyan

I rise early, wash and comb my hair, and get the baby ready to go. I tell her that today we are going to see Papa, and she points to the picture on the wall.

I get on the road to Beijing with Hu Jia’s mother, and we are chatting. I take the exit at Tuanhe. This used to be a playground for the Qing Dynasty emperors. Now it is the site of the Beijing Prison.

When we finish registering Hu Jia is already in the meeting room. Hu Jia has gotten much skinnier. In the course of a single month his face seems to have gotten much more gaunt. The speaker doesn’t work well and breaks down several times. The glass if filthy, we cannot see each other clearly. He says he has no appetite. I ask if he can eat eggs, he says at most once or twice a week. He doesn’t eat with the other prisoners, instead is fed a special vegetarian diet.

I am very worried. In 2006 when he was detained for 41 days, he came back with cirrhosis of the liver and had to be admitted to the hospital. Maybe he is sick again?

The prison has gotten much stricter on us. They will not approve the books I bring, and our letters are heavily censored.

We are not allowed to discuss any current affairs, and it inconvenient to discuss household affairs with so many guards listening.

Suddenly the telephone cuts off. Our half hour is up. We have said little. I regret that I did not just let our child play with her father instead.

When we get home my mother-in-law and I both call the police and the prison, trying to ensure that Hu gets proper medical treatment and that their rules regarding reading material, letters, and daily use items are enforced. But the responsible people are not at work.

Full Chinese report at: http://news.boxun.com/news/gb/china/2009/04/200904251044.shtml

Qi Zhiyong Prevent by Police from Visiting Hu Jia

By chinafreepress.org (translation)
Crippled Tiananmen Crackdown Victim Qi Zhiyong Physically Prevent by Police from Visiting Jailed Rights Activist Hu Jia

Boxun reports that on Friday April 3 crippled Tiananmen crackdown victim and rights activist was physically prevented by police from visiting his jailed friend, rights activist Hu Jia, in prison. April 3 marks one year since Hu Jia was imprisoned for his rights defense work. Qi was with two Agence France Press journalists when police blocked their car and prevented them from accompanying Hu Jia’s mother, his wife Zeng Yan, and their infant son to visit Hu in prison.

Full Chinese report at: http://news.boxun.com/news/gb/china/2009/04/200904032108.shtml

Quick Update

Jinyan’s MySpace contains a number of paintings of her done by a friend like the one  below.

Hu Jia currently has access to books and a state newspaper to read and his letters reach his family although they have to be carefully written to pass through censorship.

Jinyan’s passport application has been refused : lets hope that changes some how 🙂



Completes a third of his jail sentence

Network of Sakharov laureates does not forget one of its own.

Hu Jia, the winner of the European Parliament’s 2008 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, complete today a third of his sentence of three and a half years in prison for “inciting subversion of state authority.”

The members of the Sakharov Network, which groups past winners of the Sakharov Prize, reiterate their support for their colleague, who is being unjustly held by the Chinese authorities. “We express our concern and sympathy for our Chinese friend, his wife Zeng Jinyan and their young daughter,” the network said. “We also express our solidarity with all political prisoners in China and their families.” [continues…]

Zeng Jinyan: Short Family Reunion

From Just Recently

Zeng Jinyan met Hu Jia in prison yesterday, after more than three months. Her impression is that he looks much older than last time. “Maybe he sees me the same way!”, she notes. Hu Jia passed the work security tests and will start working soon, either welding or other heavy-industry kind of work. He had a medical examination on Febr. 4 (but still doesn’t know the result).

The supervision mode has been changed from tight (严管) to normal (普管). Ms Zeng explains that theoretically, this means that could make three phone calls or send text messages. On February 26, one third of Hu Jia’s prison term will be over.

Ms Zeng had brought their daughter Bao Bao with her, and the family had some happy moments together.

Sakharov Prize Award 08 – Hu Jia -The whole Message from Zeng Jinyan


Dear friends, Hello,

I am Hu Jia’s wife, Zeng Jinyan. Hu Jia is currently in prison and so is unable to come to the ceremony to receive his Sakharov Prize.

I don’t have a passport so I cannot come to Europe either to attend the ceremony for the Sakharov Prize’s 20th anniversary. We are deeply sorry about this.

The good news is that Hu Jia was transferred on 10 October 2008 from Chaobai prison in Tianjin to the Beijing municipal prison, and that the conditions in which he is being held have improved. As for his health, he is looking a little better. He seems to be in slightly better shape than he was in Chaobai prison.

However, he had two blood tests in the space of a month and we don’t know what the results were. Although we asked for them, the results of the tests have not been given to the family. This behaviour worries us. It makes us fear that his cirrhosis has got worse.

I visited Hu Jia in the Beijing municipal prison on 21 November 2008. Before our meeting, we were both warned separately by the prison authorities that we were forbidden to talk about the fact that he had been awarded the Sakharov Prize.

So, during my visit, neither of us was able to talk about the prize. We weren’t able to discuss it by letter either, as all our correspondence is inspected. Even if all we do is express a view about social phenomena or if Hu Jia talks about the prison, when the prison authorities are not happy with it, our letters are confiscated or Hu Jia’s letters are returned to him. We very much hope to be able to communicate more normally, but for the time being it is very hard.

At the end of October 2008 or beginning of November, I am not exactly sure which, State Security police officers told Hu Jia he had won the Sakharov Prize.

And when I saw him on 21 November, I could sense that he was very happy about it. I know that Hu Jia spoke to his mother and to the policemen about it. These are more or less his words:

“Perhaps the European Parliament was thinking of the work I did in the areas of AIDS and the environment, because what I did in terms of human rights was very far from sufficient and I will need to redouble my efforts.”

He also said this Sakharov Prize was very important for China and he was confident that the future would prove him right. Obviously, from my personal viewpoint, I hope he comes home as soon as possible. Hu Jia said one day that he hoped to be China’s last prisoner of conscience but the reality is very different. Since the day of his trial, on 3 April, there have been others such as Huang Qi, Zeng Honglin and Chen Daojun who have been arrested by the authorities because their expressed their views publicly. And some of them have been tried and given prison sentences.

This shows that the situation of freedom of opinion is still absolutely appalling and that there is no reason for optimism.

But even in these circumstances, there are now a great many exceptional people and people of goodwill in Chinese society who are going to great lengths to find ways to make the real situation in China known, and to express deeply-felt views, and the Internet is providing them with a very interesting platform. But unfortunately there is sometimes a very high price to be paid for this.

If the truth be told, sometimes one’s courage is not enough. Sometimes the price to be paid is very, very high. There have been cases in which, after human rights activists, writers and others have used their freedom of thought, their relatives have also been harassed by the police, have lost their jobs or have been put under house arrest. And more serious still, some have even been tried and convicted.

Hu Jia had himself been illegally kidnapped several times by the police since 2004, without any form of legal procedure. He was constantly followed and in the end he was given a prison sentence. And I, who am his wife, I am often harassed by the police. 05:49

Others are in the same situation, such as Chen Guangchen and his wife, Guo Feixiong and his wife, and even their child, who has been denied his right to education. Thanks to many appeals from different quarters, Guo Feixiong’s children were later able to go back to school although in circumstances that are not very satisfactory.

For all these reasons, I would like to respect the desire that Hu Jia has expressed on many occasions. He has often said he would like to set up a support network to help the families of human rights activists. To provide moral support for the families, to ease their mental and life pressure to which they are subjected. So that they can be strong enough to face the pressure of the authorities in a more active and optimistic manner, and to discourage cruel revenge-taking on families.

I cannot at the moment do very much but I would like to use the 50,000 euros of Hu Jia’s Sakharov Prize as start-up money, to establish a foundation to support the families of human rights activists and to finally realise what Hu Jia had always wanted.

Why is the human rights work done by Hu Jia so difficult?

I think this is mainly because China’s legal system is not satisfactory. There are laws, there are all sorts of articles and regulations, some are well written, but they are not applied.

In reality, the situation of the rule of law is disastrous. The judicial system has no independence. Until 2004, Hu Jia devoted most of his activity to the problems of AIDS and the environment. He spent a lot of the time in the field, on campaigns, where people needed him to take concrete action.

Then, from 2004 onwards, the police regularly denied him his freedom of movement and he had no other choice but to participate in human rights movements from his home, writing articles and publishing reports from the field.

I think that during all these years, the most important and most interesting thing he did was to have constantly persisted in saying the truth. He never stopped writing about the phenomena he observed. He never stopped describing, one by one, all the realities that the Chinese media cannot say. He never stopped publishing all this on websites so that the public could learn about the reality of China and understand it.

In my view, this has been his greatest contribution.

If you look at China now, you see everyone talking, but lying is very widespread. Nonetheless, there are people who continue their quest for the truth. Because the school textbooks our children study, our newspapers and broadcast media, our libraries and all these documents and files, they all resemble what you find in the novel 1984. They are written in another language to describe a fictitious reality.

What is the real situation, the real China? We do not know.

That is why there is a group of thinking people, like Hu Jia, in China who have never abandoned their quest for the truth. But Hu Jia has paid a very heavy price.

Our child is now just one year old. This is a key period in her life but Hu Jia is not able to be at her side. It is very difficult for me to talk about this, but I think…

And then Hu Jia has also always been very optimistic. He said he thought China was experiencing the most open period of its history, that you had to seize the opportunity to more effectively promote a fairer, freer and more democratic society in China.

We can indeed see this in our daily life, although the government still has very tight control over the media and over freedom of association, and perhaps even tighter control with the use of new technology. But on the other hand, civil society also uses the new technology and the platform that the Internet provides to actively promote a fairer judicial system and a more just society, and to investigate and expose the real China.

And to carry out citizen education, to educate citizens about human rights. It is a real hope: whether the government wants it or not, and whether leading figures inside or outside China recognise it or not, China is moving at great speed towards an open and democratic society.

I would finally like to say that, whatever happens, we must maintain an active and optimist attitude and pursue our efforts to promote the rule of law in China, to promote democracy and freedom in China.

We are full of hope of soon being able to hail the arrival of an open China. We are full of energy for China to become a country at peace.

I would like to thank our European Parliament friends from the bottom of my heart. The European Parliament has from the outset taken an interest in Hu Jia’s case and has deployed considerable efforts on behalf of freedom for Hu Jia and other Chinese human rights activists, efforts that demand respect.

It has also never stopped drawing attention to the need for freedom to become a reality for the people of China. Thank you, thank you very much.

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank all those friends who I have never seen. If you had not supported us for so long, if you had not taken an interest in our fate, if you had not constantly encouraged us, I think we would never have found the courage to confront such a difficult social reality.

It helps us to keep hope and to continue our efforts.

I thank you. Thank you for all the efforts you have undertaken for Hu Jia, for me and for our family. Thank you for your efforts on behalf of human rights activists and you contribution to the progress of Chinese society.

Thank you.

Thank you, thank you. And goodbye.

Posted: 17 Dec 2008 05:24 AM PST

Sakharov Prize Award 08 – Hu Jia – Message from Zeng Jinyan
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Visits to jailed China activist curbed after award

By AUDRA ANG – 2 days ago

BEIJING (AP) — Chinese authorities have curbed visits to an imprisoned dissident who was awarded the European Parliament’s top human rights award, his wife said.

Zeng Jinyan said she was told of the restriction during a telephone call Thursday from the Beijing Municipal Prison, where her husband, Hu Jia, is being held on a sedition charge.

“State security police told the prison to cancel my visit that had been scheduled for next Monday,” Zeng said in an online posting. “No one is allowed to see him.”

No reason was given for the change of plans, she said.

A man who answered the telephone at the prison said he was “unclear” about Hu’s case and his visiting hours. Like many Chinese officials, he refused to give his name.

The move comes a day after Hu was honored in Strasbourg, France, as the winner of this year’s 50,000 euro ($72,000) Sakharov Prize.

Because Hu, 35, is in prison, his name was placed in front of an empty seat. He received a minute-long standing ovation from the parliament.

Initially an advocate for the rights of HIV/AIDS patients, Hu expanded his focus to cover other human rights issues, using the Internet and telephone to publicize the harassment and arrests of other dissidents.

Hu’s charge of sedition stems from police accusations that he had planned to work with foreigners to disturb the Olympic Games in August.

The award signals the EU assembly’s dismay with what it sees as the authoritarian and repressive nature of the Chinese government. Beijing, however, sees the prize as interference and support for someone it considers a criminal.

Zeng said she hopes to use the prize money to start a foundation to support the families of other activists.

She said the idea had been a longtime wish of Hu, who meticulously chronicled the harassment of activists and their loved ones by authorities in China before being sentenced in April to a 3 1/2-year prison term.

“He has often said he would like to set up a support network … to provide moral support for the families, to ease their mental and life pressures so that they can be strong enough to face the pressure from authorities,” Zeng said in a video message played during Wednesday’s award ceremony.

It was one of the rare occasions she has been publicly seen since Hu’s arrest.

It’s not immediately clear how Zeng will go about setting up the support group. She has been under strict surveillance since Hu was whisked away by security agents who swarmed the couple’s apartment in the “Freedom City” complex on Dec. 27, 2007.

Her phone is monitored and often disconnected. Plainclothes security agents dog her movements.

Zeng, a waiflike 25-year-old with a heart condition, has herself become a fierce human rights advocate, using her blog to bring attention to abuses. In 2007, she was named by Time magazine as one of the world’s 100 most influential people.
On the Net:

* European Parliament’s news page: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/public/default_en.htm

China’s Human-Rights Activists Need Support



In January 1977, a group of Czechoslovak citizens, of which I was privileged to be one, released Charter 77. That document was our call for the better protection of basic civil and political rights by the state. It was also the articulation of our belief that, as citizens, we had a certain responsibility to work with the Czechoslovak government to ensure through our vigilance that basic rights would be protected.

With the release of Charter 77, we wanted to create not a membership organization, but instead, as I wrote then, “a free, informal open community of people of different convictions, different faiths, and different professions united by the will to strive, individually and collectively, for the respect of civic and human rights in our own country and throughout the world.”

More than three decades later, in December 2008, a group of Chinese citizens has taken our modest effort as their model. They have made a similar call — for human rights, good governance and respect for the responsibility of citizens to keep watch over their government — to ensure that their state plays by the rules of a modern open society.

The document they have issued is an impressive one. In it, the authors of Charter 08 call for protection of basic rights, increased judicial independence, and legislative democracy. But they do not stop there. With the passage of time, we have come to realize that a free and open society means more than the protection of basic rights. To that end, the signatories of Charter 08 also wisely call for better environmental protection, a bridging of the rural-urban divide, better provision of social security, and a serious effort to reconcile with human-rights abuses committed in decades past.

The original signatories, who number more than 300, come from all walks of life, and from across China — a testament to the broad appeal of the ideas put forward in Charter 08. Among the signatories are China’s top minds from law, political science, economics, the arts and culture. Their decision to sign onto such a document was surely not taken lightly, and their words should not be so brusquely brushed aside. Since the Charter was released, more than 5,000 men and women have added their names to it.

China in 2008 is not Czechoslovakia in 1977. In many ways, China today is freer and more open than my own country of 30 years ago. And yet, the response of the Chinese authorities to Charter 08 in many ways parallels the Czechoslovak government’s response to Charter 77.

more: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122964944665820499.html?mod=googlenews_wsj

Chinese dissident’s wife welcomes international support

Asia-Pacific News

Dec 17, 2008, 9:52 GMT

Beijing – The wife of jailed Chinese dissident Hu Jia welcomed international support for the couple on Wednesday, as the European Parliament prepared to award its top human rights prize to him in absentia.

‘It is not only for us, it is also for all Chinese human rights defenders,’ Zeng Jinyan told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa.

‘It is important, it makes us feel warm and encouraged,’ she said of the international support, in a written interview via internet, which is normally the only way she can communicate with foreign journalists without police interference.

Zeng, 25, said Chinese police had talked to her about Wednesday’s award of the European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought to Hu.

She said police warned her that European officials would not be allowed to visit her suburban Beijing apartment, where she has been under virtual house arrest since Hu’s arrest a year ago.

They also questioned her about putting her name to ‘Charter ’08,’ an appeal for democratic reform issued last week by more than 300 dissidents, activists and intellectuals.

Beijing police have formally arrested Liu Xiaobo, a veteran dissident writer who is believed to be accused of organizing the charter, and have questioned or detained many other signatories, according to lawyers and rights groups.

Police asked Zeng if she had considered the consequences of signing the charter for her and Hu, she said.

Hu, 35, began his activism in the late 1990s when the economics graduate volunteered to work on environmental projects.

In 2001, he began helping villagers infected with HIV/AIDS through blood-selling schemes in the central province of Henan, and gained international recognition and several awards.

He spent most of the two years prior to his arrest under some form of detention, but international attention increased as he acted as an information conduit for petitioners and rights activists while confined to his apartment.

Zeng on Wednesday said she thought the international focus on the couple was ‘partly because we use blogs and the internet more often than the other (rights) defenders.’

‘The other reason is that, I think, because AIDS, environmental protection and human rights in China are urgent issues,’ she said.

Despite the jailing of Hu, her own house arrest and the crackdown on the signatories of ‘Charter ’08,’ Zeng said she remained optimistic about the future direction of the rights movement in China.

‘There are some difficulties, but ultimately I’m still optimistic,’ she said.

Hu and Zeng testified by telephone to a European Parliamentary hearing on China’s human rights record in November 2007.

China ignored appeals from the European Union, the United States and rights groups for Hu’s release, sentencing him to three and a half years in prison in March for ‘inciting subversion of state power.’

The couple are both practicing Tibetan Buddhists and Zeng had a personal audience with the Dalai Lama during a trip to India in 2006.