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UN experts urge China to respect human rights and release all persons detained for peacefully exercising their rights

GENEVA (11 October 2010) – Four UN experts* today added their voices to those welcoming the decision of the Nobel Committee, on Friday, to award the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize to Liu Xiaobo, and urged for his immediate release.

Liu Xiaobo participated in the Tiananmen Square demonstrations in Beijing in 1989, worked as a professor at Beijing Normal University, and co-authored the Charter 08 document which called for multiparty democracy and greater respect for human rights in the country.

“Liu Xiaobo is a courageous human rights defender who has continuously and peacefully advocated for greater respect for human rights in the People’s Republic of China. We welcome the recognition of his work,” stated the experts.

“For many years, we have expressed to the Government of the People’s Republic of China concerns regarding violations of Liu Xiaobo’s fundamental human rights,” noted the experts. “This includes his detention in October 1997 and the sentence of re-education through labour for speaking out about the country’s one-party political system, found to be arbitrary in a decision** adopted by the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention.”

Most recently, Liu Xiaobo was convicted by the Beijing No.1 Municipal Court for “inciting subversion of State power” and, on 25 December 2009, was sentenced to 11 years in prison and two years’ deprivation of political rights. “Such a harsh sentence for his peaceful activities in drafting and organizing the signing of Charter 08 is a clear violation of international human rights standards on the right to freedom of expression,” the experts stated. They also noted that there were many irregularities with the trial which did not conform to international standards regarding the right to a fair and public hearing.

“On this occasion, we appeal to the Government of the People’s Republic of China to release all persons detained for peacefully exercising their right to freedom of expression and to respect the spirit of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which the Government is a signatory,” said the experts. “We encourage the Government to take the final step and ratify this important international instrument.”

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

** Opinion 17/1999 of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (see E/CN.4/2000/4/Add1, available at: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/issues/detention/annual.htm).

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