Last Updated: Tuesday - 01/04/2011
June 11, 2001
Amnesty criticizes China's lack of freedom
CANADIAN CATHOLIC NEWS
OTTAWA — Thousands of people were arbitrarily detained in China last year for exercising their rights to freedom of religion, expression or association, says Amnesty International.
Roman Catholics and evangelical Christians who worshipped outside the official "patriotic" churches were the victims of a continuing pattern of arrests, fines and harassment, the human rights organization said in its annual report.
"Scores arrested in recent years remained in prison or labour camps."
Singled out by AI was the detention in Fujian province last September of 24 Catholics, including a priest and 20 nuns, after police found them holding Church services in a factory.
It said "Father Liu Shaozhang was so severely beaten by police during the arrest that he vomited blood."
Two of the nuns were allegedly released the following day after parishioners paid a large sum of money to police. However, AI added, the whereabouts of the other 22 detainees remained unknown at the end of the year.
Followers of Falun Gong, a spiritual movement banned in China, also faced detention, unfair trials, torture and imprisonment as part of the government's continuing crackdown on groups considered to be "heretical organizations," said the report.
Since the movement was banned in July 1999, at least 93 adherents were believed to have died in police custody.
The report, released May 30, outlines rights violations in 149 countries including Canada and also takes aim at globalization.
"The spread of the free market and technological change that has been accompanied by debt, poverty and widening inequalities have to be tempered by firm action by governments to protect human rights," said Alex Neve, secretary general of the English branch of Amnesty International.
In its examination of Canada's human rights record in 1999, AI said there were sporadic reports of the use of excessive force by police officers and that two people faced possible extradition to the U.S. where they faced a possible death sentence.
It also noted that the federal and Ontario government had not held a public inquiry into the death in 1995 of native activist, Dudley George, at Ipperwash Provincial Park, despite calls to do so from the Ombudsman of Ontario, churches, trade unions, the UN Human Rights Committee and others.
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