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One Step Forward, Ten Steps Back for Human Rights

This past quarter has seen the continued repression of human rights in China. However, there was some welcome news on 9 July, when Liu Xia—widow of late Chinese Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo—was released from effective house arrest and moved to Germany. Sadly, 9 July also marked the third anniversary of the ‘709’ crackdown, which saw the arrest of over 300 human rights lawyers and activists. On the anniversary, the European Union urged the Chinese government to release almost 30 detained activists, including publisher Gui Minhai (a Swedish citizen) and lawyer Wang Quanzhang. At the same time, in Hong Kong a group of lawyers and activists held a silent protest outside the Hong Kong Court of Final Appeal. In response, the Party-state stepped up repression. On 11 July, Qin Yongmin, a veteran pro-democracy campaigner, was sentenced to 13 years in prison on charges of ‘subversion of a state power’. On the same day, Mongolian historian and author Lhamjab A. Borjigin was detained following charges of ethnic separatist activities. These charges are reportedly related to his book, documenting the life of ethnic Mongolians during the Cultural Revolution, wherein Borjigin claims that at least 27,900 Mongolians died, and 346,000 were imprisoned and tortured. A few days later independent liberal think tank Unirule Institute of Economics—which has often taken a critical stance toward government policies—was evicted from their Beijing office following an apparent tenancy dispute. Likewise, Jianjiao Bulao (roughly translated ‘Pepper Tribe’), an online platform where female factory workers ‘screamed’ about workplace issues, was also shut down in July. In a similar incident, 84-year-old physics professor, Sun Wenguang, a vocal critic of China’s human rights record, was forced offair while he was giving a live interview with Voice of America and his whereabouts has been unknown since then. TS

(Sources: Hong Kong Free Press; Quartz; Radio Free Asia 1; Radio Free Asia 2; Reuters 1; Reuters 2; South China Morning Post 1; South China Morning Post 2; Voice of America News)

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