Hong Kong Catholics Ask for Detainees' Release

Plea on Behalf of 3 Human Rights Defenders

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HONG KONG, JAN. 27, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Catholic peace organizations in Hong Kong launched a letter campaign urging the Chinese government to release three human right defenders and to stop harassing their families.



The Justice and Peace Commission of the Hong Kong Catholic Diocese and the Asian Center for the Progress of Peoples (ACPP) initiated the campaign Jan. 25 to press for the release of three high-profile human rights defenders; Hu Jia, Guo Feixiong (aka Yang Maodong) and Chen Guangcheng. The organizers hope to secure the release of the detainees before the Chinese New Year in early February 2008.

Meanwhile, the ACCP voiced its concern over the treatment of the two prisoners: "Since his arrest Dec. 27, 2007, Hu Jia, a renowned HIV/AIDS activist, was denied access to family and lawyers. Medication from his wife was rejected and it is not clear if daily access to the medical treatment he needs for his liver disease is guaranteed and if he can count on a doctor's assistance during his detention."

"Guo Feixiong has been beaten in prison and has started hunger strike since Dec. 13,
2007. He was reportedly locked on a wooden bed for 42 days and given electric shocks […] during his 14 months detention from September 2006 to November 2007."
The ACPP added that the families and lawyers of the human right defenders also experienced various levels of harassment.

Campaign

The campaign invites others to write letters asking Beijing to guarantee the physical and psychological integrity of the three human rights defenders; put an end to any acts of harassment against human rights defenders and their families; provide adequate reparation to those who had been physically abused; and release the named detainees immediately.

According to the ACPP, Hu Jia, a Beijing-based HIV/AIDS activist, is the co-founder and former director of the Beijing Aizhixing Institute for Health Education, a grass-roots organization that aims at educating the public about HIV/AIDS. On Dec. 27 some 20 policemen came to Hu Jia's home and took him away on suspicion of "inciting subversion of state power."

Guo Feixiong was sentenced to five years imprisonment Nov. 14 for conducting illegal business activities after publishing "Shenyang Political Earthquake," a book exposing government corruption in Shenyang City, Liaoning Province.

Chen Guangcheng was sentenced to four years and three months for "damaging property and organizing a mob to disturb traffic" on Aug. 24, 2006. The ACPP report that this lawyer and wife contend that the charge was fabricated by local officials after Chen exposed of abuses by local family planning officials under China's one-child policy.