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Wednesday, August 04, 2010

China increasingly using prison sentences to silence dissent

Voice of America: U.S. Senator Byron Dorgan, a Democrat from North Dakota used the mysterious disappearance of Chinese activist lawyer Gao Zhisheng to highlight the growing problem at a congressional hearing Tuesday on political prisoners in China.
"Last year he [Gao] was abducted from his home by security agents after his wife and two children had left China to seek asylum in this country [the United States], "said Senator Dorgan. "He was known at that point just to have disappeared. And now we know that for more than a year security agents shuffled him from one location to another and subjected him to both physical and psychological abuse."
Sophie Richardson, a China expert with Human Rights Watch in Washington, DC, said political imprisonment has reached new lows of arbitrariness and that recent cases highlight how anyone can face prosecution.
"All behavior may be subject to some kind of reprisal from the government," said Sophie Richardson. "Your business success today, might be a liability tomorrow. Your call to end unrest last year, may land you in hot water today. Your approval from the government at any point is no guarantee of a life free of persecution."
Richardson said the development of civil society, rule of law, a predictable and fair trade regime are at risk as long as those who share those views in China are considered potential threats by their government. She calls on the U.S. government to take a closer look at the situation.

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