Wed, Dec 13, 2006 - Page 2 News List

China's rights situation decried

GROWING PROBLEM The Taiwan Foundation for Democracy's `2006 China Human Rights Report' said that Beijing has intensified its efforts to suppress peaceful protests

By Jewel Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

China's human rights record has not kept pace with its economic rise and recent fine-tuning of laws and systems is designed to enhance control over the population, a report released yesterday said.

The Taiwan Foundation for Democracy's (TFD) 2006 China Human Rights Report details the human rights situation in China in the 12 months to June 30. The report includes observations on social, political, legal, economic, environmental, educational and cultural aspects. The foundation has released the report annually since 2003.

Regarding social aspects, Tung Li-wen (董立文), deputy executive director of the TFD, said that although Chinese leaders claim that the government has paid much attention to improving labor rights, last year saw a record in the number of crackdowns on labor protests.

Suppression

"Over the past year, the Chinese government has intensified its suppression of labor protests calling for wage increases. Currently 26 labor activists are in prison without proper charges," Tung said. "We urge the Chinese government to release them immediately."

Tung also said that the safety and hygiene conditions that Chinese workers face are declining. Information released by China's Department of Health shows that the number of companies producing poisoned material stands at 16,000,000 and the condition is "critical." About 5,986 miners died in mine accidents last year, which accounted for 80 percent of all mine casualties in the world.

"China has to allow [its] workers to organize unions that are independent from the government, otherwise it is impossible to talk about the protection of human rights," Tung said.

Tung also urged China not to sacrifice human rights for the sake of hosting the 2008 Olympics, pointing out that more than 1 million people had been forced to move their homes for the government to construct stadiums and facilities.

Regarding political aspects of China's human rights problems, Chen Chun-ju (陳純如), assistant research fellow at the Institute of International Relations at National Chengchi University, said that China has actually tightened political participation in the most recent period.

Clampdown

"China has reinforced its clampdown on human rights activists, strengthened its censorship of the press and has implemented stricter surveillance on Internet users and cell phone users over the past year," Chen said. "The conflicts between officials and ordinary people have become more bloody and frequent."

Yen Jiann-fa (顏建發), chairman of the Research and Planning Committee of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said that China's rapid economic growth comes with deteriorating environmental conditions, increasing inequality and corruption. All these problems send out warning signals that the Chinese government has no intention of matching political development with economic progress," Yen said.

Fort Liao (廖福特), an associate research fellow in the Institute of Law at Academia Sinica, said that use of the death penalty and torture last year became more prevalent, taking the country further away from international human rights standards. Last year, Amnesty International statistics showed that of the 2,148 condemned criminals worldwide, 1,770 were in China, Liao said.

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