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2008 Beijing Games 20 August 2008

As Olympic Games continue, so does mistreatment of prisoners of conscience

Reporters Without Borders condemns the conditions in which some Chinese prisoners of conscience are being held, especially their lack of access to treatment they urgently need. The organisation has received disturbing information about the health of cyber-dissidents Huang Qi and Hu Jia and journalist Sun Lin, and calls on the international community, including the leaders who will attend the Olympic Games closing ceremony, to intercede on their behalf.

“Journalists and cyber-dissidents are being held in unacceptable conditions that endanger their health,” Reporters Without Borders said. “We remind the International Olympic Committee that the Olympic Charter says sport must serve ‘the harmonious development of man, with a view to promoting a peaceful society concerned with the preservation of human dignity’.”

The press freedom organisation added: “Yet again, the IOC is acting with cowardice and is doing nothing to ensure that the Olympic values are respected in China. We condemn the behaviour of Chinese authorities who deny detainees access to the treatment they need and we call for their immediate release.

Huang Qi

Huang Qi, a cyber-dissident who has been held in the Sichuan capital of Chengdu since 10 June, is suffering violent stomach aches and headaches as a result of being mistreated while jailed for “subversion” from 2000 to 2005. Charged with “illegal possession of state secrets,” he has still not been able to see a lawyer. All of his requests for release on humanitarian grounds have been rejected.

The cyber-dissident Hu Jia, who has been held in Tianjin (200 km east of Beijing) since 8 May, could die because he is not getting the daily treatment he needs for a liver ailment that is the result of a hepatitis B infection. Arrested on 27 December on a charge of “inciting subversion of state authority” for posting comments about government policy online, he was sentenced to three and a half years in prison on 3 April. All attempts to locate his wife, Zeng Jinyan, and their 8-month-old daughter since the start of the Olympic Games have failed.

Sun Lin, a journalist better known by the pseudonym of Jie Mu, is jailed in the eastern city of Nanjing, where his sight has deteriorated and he has severe headaches as a result of being beaten in prison. His family has asked if he can see a doctor, but this has been refused.

A regular contributor to the overseas news website Boxun and founder of the now banned newspaper Da Du Shi, he was arrested on 30 May 2007 and was sentenced on 27 June of this year to four years in prison for “illegal possession for firearms.” His wife, He Fang, who also contributes to Boxun, was released after being given a suspended prison sentence.

Hu Jia

Reporters Without Borders added: “Huang, Hu and Sun are not the only ones to suffer from being held in such conditions. A total of 50 cyber-dissidents and 29 journalists are currently imprisoned in China in connection with their work. We call on the international community to press for their release.”

Human rights lawyer and cyber-dissident Yang Maodong (better known by the pseudonym of Guo Feixiong) often refuses to eat in protest against prison conditions. His wife, Zhang Qing, says he has been subjected to physical mistreatment, including electric shocks. Given a five-year sentence in November 2007 for “disturbing public order,” he has been held in Meizhou (in Guangdong province) since 13 December 2007.

Hada, the onetime publisher of the Voice of Southern Mongolia newspaper, is often mistreated in the prison in Chifeng (in Inner Mongolia) where he is serving a 15-year sentence. Held since 1995, he has not seen the light of day for nearly a year. He is not allowed to talk or read, and does not trust the medicine that the prison guards give him.

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