Ahead of the EU-China summit 23 human rights organizations appealed to the President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, and the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, for a stronger response to the deteriorating human rights situation in China. Just weeks after the last EU-China summit in 2017, Chinese authorities ignored international calls, including by the EU and several of its members states, and refused to allow 2010 Nobel Peace Prize winner and journalist Liu Xiaobo to leave the country to seek treatment for liver cancer, such that he died under state guard in July. The forthcoming EU-China summit will take place one year on from Liu Xiaobo’s death. Since then, the authorities have refused to release from illegal house arrest in her apartment his widow, poet Liu Xia, who has expressed her wish to leave the country.
In January 2018, Chinese authorities forcibly disappeared Swedish citizen Gui Minhai while he was traveling with Swedish diplomats. Their inability to visit him in detention violates China’s obligations under the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations. In April, Chinese officials tried to block German citizen Dolkun Isa, an ethnic Uyghur activist, from participating in a United Nations forum in New York. However, at the EU-China Strategic Dialogue on June 1, 2018, in Brussels, the EU once again did not publicly challenge China over any human rights violations, including those committed against member state citizens, publicly mention a single human rights defender, or insist on immediate and unconditional releases of those wrongly imprisoned.
Our organizations continue to document China’s abusive campaign against independent civil society, ethnic and religious minorities, and the rule of law. The Chinese government has created a comprehensive national security legal architecture that is misused by the authorities to silence dissent, censor information and harass and prosecute human rights defenders. Authorities have subjected lawyers and human rights defenders to show trials, airing excerpted forced “confessions” on state television and social media. Police coerce detainees’ into complying through torture and other ill-treatment, denying access to lawyers, and holding them incommunicado for months.
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