China: Hu Jia’s Fate a Test of Beijing’s Human Rights Stance

Beijing Should Release Hu Jia and Drop Charges of Subversion(New York, February 26, 2008) – The Chinese authorities should release leading human rights activist Hu Jia and drop charges of subversion against him, Human Rights Watch said today. The case of Hu Jia, who will as of February 27 have been detained for two months, has become emblematic of Beijing’s broad attempt to suppress dissent ahead of the Olympic Games.

“The longer Hu Jia is in detention, the worse China’s image will be,” said Sophie Richardson, Asia advocacy director at Human Rights Watch. “With fewer than six months to go before the Olympics, the Chinese government has everything to gain and nothing to lose by releasing him.”

A leading activist who has called for greater attention to human rights issues around the Olympics, Hu was formally arrested for “incitement to subvert state power” on January 30, 2008, but has not yet been formally indicted. He is currently detained at Beijing’s Municipal Detention Center.

Human Rights Watch is concerned that Hu is being prosecuted simply for exercising his rights to freedom of opinion and expression as guaranteed by the Chinese constitution and international human rights law. The crime of “incitement to subvert state power” as defined under Chinese law criminalizes criticism of the government and the Communist Party of China in violation of human rights law. [continues…]

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