Open Letter to the Vice President of China, Hu Jintao

Help support religious freedom and end use of torture in China! Sign this letter to the Chinese Consulate General to immediately and unconditionally release religious practitioners, and to fully respect the Chinese peoples' rights to religious and other freedoms. Your signature can make a difference, so act now!
Presented to: Chinese Consulate General
1450 Laguna St, San Francisco, CA 94115

Your Excellency,

During your recent visit to the US, according to reports in the press,
President Bush raised some of his concerns about human rights in China with
you. Apparently, you responded that religious freedom is China's policy.
We welcome your commitment to religious freedom. However, recent actions
of the Chinese government have not been consistent with this commitment.
In particular, Chinese Roman Catholics have continued to encounter
repression and persecution. Numerous Protestants have been placed under
arrest simply for attending church services. Followers of the Dalai Lama
are harshly treated in Tibet and often tortured for simply possessing his
photograph. Members of the Falun Gong and Zhonggong movements continue to
be imprisoned and thrown in reeducation labor camps where they are severely
mistreated. Muslims in Xinjiang and elsewhere are not being allowed to
freely practice their religion. And there are other examples. In numerous
cases, people have been imprisoned and tortured for trying to exercise the
freedom to which you say the Chinese government is committed. Amnesty
International has documented some of these cases in reports, which are
enclosed herewith.

Your forthcoming selection as leader of the Party and Government gives you
an unexampled opportunity, as well as responsibility, to correct these
abuses. The world community looks to you for leadership as China advances
into the twenty-first century, with the Olympics scheduled to take place in
Beijing in a few years. The right to religious freedom is a fundamental
human right. The Chinese government is committed to the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights as well as to numerous other treaties it has
ratified. However, hundreds of Tibetan Buddhist monks and nuns continue to
remain in prison, many of which are forced to work long hours under harsh
conditions and are subject to torture from prison guards. These torture
methods are brutal and sometimes include the use of electric shock batons,
particularly on sensitive areas such as the mouth or genitals. Nuns are
particularly vulnerable in prison and are often raped.

Meanwhile, religious persecution is carried on in the Xinjiang Province
under the guise of the Chinese Government's "war against terrorists".
Methods of torture by police authorities are particularly cruel in
Xinjiang, such as the insertion into the penis of horsehair or of a special
wire with small spikes which fold flat when it is inserted but extend when
pulled out. Followers of the Falun Gong and Zhonggong spiritual groups
face detention, unfair trials, torture and imprisonment as part of the
Chinese Government's continuing crackdown on what it considers "heretical
organizations." The death penalty and long prison sentences are imposed on
alleged leaders of such groups. Since the Falun Gong was banned in July
1999, Amnesty International has documented the deaths of more than 100
adherents in police custody.

Amnesty International USA appeals to you to lead China towards no tolerance
of torture. We call on you to immediately and unconditionally release
religious practitioners, and to fully respect the Chinese peoples' rights
to religious and other freedoms. We ask that you appoint an independent
body to investigate all allegations of torture of detained prisoners.
Furthermore, we ask that you institute:

-- Independent investigation into reports of the use of torture,
ill-treatment and deaths in custody of prisoners in China.

-- An immediate end to the high level of impunity that appears to exist in
the prisons in China by insisting that anybody found obstructing the
investigation of allegations of torture, concealing or destroying evidence,
or suppressing evidence provided by an autopsy, will be severely punished.

-- Immediate implementation of the obligation for the detaining authorities
to inform the family of a detainee's whereabouts within 24 hours.

-- An end to the practice of keeping detainees for prolonged periods in
incommunicado detention, and to seeking confession from suspects, both of
which foster the use of torture.

-- Giving effect to the detainees' right to have immediate access to a
lawyer, particularly during interrogation.

-- A program of widespread training on human and religious rights to be
carried out amongst all police and other law enforcement officials.

The world applauds China's economic reforms, and the rapid progress, which
has been made in raising the standard of living of its people. But without
an equal commitment to human rights, China will not fulfill its potential,
or indeed its obligation, to be a leader of the world in accord with its
great population and resources.


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