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Deep concerns over crackdown on human rights defenders since Liu Xiaobo was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize

GENEVA(13 December 2010) – Three UN independent experts* expressed concerns today over the crackdown on human rights defenders since Liu Xiaobo was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize two months ago.

“Since 8 October 2010, we have received reports of over 20 arrests or detentions of human rights defenders, and over 120 other cases of house arrests, including Liu Xiaobo’s wife, Liu Xia, travel restrictions, forced relocations, acts of intimidation, and blocking of means of communication, including removal of content on the Internet regarding the Nobel Peace Prize,” stated the experts.

The UN experts stressed that “this recent and alarming trend to increasingly restrict the space to exercise the right to freedom of expression and the ability of Chinese human rights defenders to carry out their peaceful and legitimate activities calls into question China's commitments to promote and protect universal human rights.”

They also expressed regret that Liu Xiaobo could not attend the ceremony in person as he remains in detention serving an eleven-year sentence for peacefully advocating for better respect for human rights in China.

“We call upon the Government of the People’s Republic of China to take all the necessary steps to put an end to these restrictions and reiterate our appeal to release all persons detained for peacefully exercising their fundamental rights, including Liu Xiaobo,” said the experts, who also urged the State to ratify the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

(*) Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, Margaret Sekaggya; Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, Frank La Rue; and Chair-Rapporteur of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, El Hadji Malick Sow.

International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/law/ccpr.htm

OHCHR Country Page – China: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/AsiaRegion/Pages/CNIndex.aspx

For media requests, please contact Momoko Nomura (Tel: +41 22 917 9304 / e-mail: freedex@ohchr.org).