Arbitrary sentence against environmentalist Mr. Wu Lihong - CHN 002 / 0807 / OBS 094

20/08/2007
Urgent Appeal

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the arbitrary sentence against Mr. Wu Lihong, an environmentalist and a farmer from Zhoutie Township, Yixing city, Jiangsu province.

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in the People’s Republic of China (PRC).

Description of the situation:

According to the information received, on August 10, 2007, the Yixing City Court sentenced Mr. Wu to three years’ imprisonment and a 500 RMB (about 48 euros) fine for “money extortion”, following a 7-hour long trial. Mr. Wu said he would appeal this sentence.

Only four family members were allowed in the court room, which was packed by more than 60 people who appeared to be court staff, while supporters, friends, and reporters were kept out.

Mr. Wu had been arrested on April 13, 2007 on suspicion of “extortion” by the Yixing City police. He had then been placed in a detention centre in Yixing. During a visit, Mr Wu’s lawyer, Ms. Zhu Xiaoyan, had noticed that he had been injured. Mr. Wu confirmed that he had been subjected to acts of violence. The lawyer requested a physical examination by a doctor, but it is unclear whether the medical examination ever took place.

The Observatory expresses its deep concern about the sentence of Mr. Wu as it seems to merely aim at sanctioning his human rights activities. Indeed, Mr. Wu has regularly reported cases of industrial waste dumping into Tai Hu (Tai Lake) to government authorities since 1991, which was considered as offending local officials and polluting industries.

The Observatory recalls that the National People’s Congress amended the Chinese Constitution in 2004 to include that “the State respects and safeguards human rights” and that in April 2006, China submitted a document to the UN in order to support its candidacy to the Human Rights Council’s first election1, in which it affirmed that the amendment to the Constitution was aiming at “defining the position of human rights in the overall national development strategy”. The Observatory further wishes to point out that, as a member of the Human Rights Council, China “shall uphold the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights”2.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities in the People’s Republic of China, urging them to:

i.Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Wu Lihong;

ii.Release Mr. Wu Lihong since his detention is arbitrary as it merely aims at sanctioning his human rights activities;

iii.Conduct a fair and impartial investigation into the allegations of ill-treatment above-mentioned so that all those responsible be identified, brought to justice and sentenced according to sanctions provided by law;

iv.Put an end to the harassment against all human rights defenders in China;

v.Conform with the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 9, 1998, especially its Article 1, which states that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realisation of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels”, Article 11 which reads that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to the lawful exercise of his or her occupation or profession” and Article 12.2, which provides that “the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration”;

vi.Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments ratified by the People’s Republic of China.

Addresses:

President Hu Jintao, People’s Republic of China, c/o Embassy of the People’s Republic of China; 2300 Connecticut Ave., NW, Washington, D.C., 20008, USA, Fax: +01 202 588-0032;
Minister of Justice of the People’s Republic of China, Buzhang Sifabu, Wu Aiying, 10 Chaoyangmen Nandajie, Chaoyangqu, Beijingshi 100020, People’s Republic of China, Fax: +86 10 6529 2345;
Minister of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China, Buzhang Waijiaobu, Mr. Li Zhaoxing, 2 Chaoyangmen Nandajie, Beijingshi 100701, People’s Republic of China, Fax: +86 10 6588 2594, Email: ipc@fmprc.gov.cn;
Ambassador Sha Zukang, Permanent Mission of the People’s Republic of China, Chemin de Surville 11, P.O. Box 85, 1213 Petit-Lancy 2, Geneva, Switzerland, Fax: +41 22 7937014, E-mail: mission.china@ties.itu.int;
Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Brussels, Avenue de Tervuren, 463 1160 Auderghem, Belgium, Tel: + 32 2 663 30 10 / + 32 2 663 30 17 / +32 2 771 14 97 / +32 2 779 43 33; Fax: +32 2 762 99 66 / +32 2 779 28 95; Email: chinaemb_be@mfa.gov.cn.

Please also write to the diplomatic mission or embassy of the People’s Republic of China in your respective country.

***
Paris - Geneva, August 20, 2007

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

The Observatory, a FIDH and OMCT venture, is dedicated to the protection of Human Rights Defenders and aims to offer them concrete support in their time of need. The Observatory was the winner of the 1998 Human Rights Prize of the French Republic.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line: E-mail: Appeals@fidh-omct.org Tel and fax FIDH + 33 (0) 1 43 55 20 11 / +33 1 43 55 18 80 Tel and fax OMCT + 41 (0) 22 809 49 39 / + 41 22 809 49 29

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