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24-03-06, 05:42
U.N. official appeals to China for release of political prisoners
(Kyodo) _ The United Nations special rapporteur for torture recommends in a report released Tuesday that China set free eight prisoners serving time for political crimes.
On a 12-day China trip last year, the first ever by someone holding his position, Rapporteur Manfred Nowak met with four inmates in Beijing Prison No. 2, three in Lhasa Prison No. 1 and one in the Urumqi Prison No. 3 who indicated they had been incarcerated for political crimes, possibly based on information obtained under torture, Nowak's 30,900-word report says, calling for their immediate release.

The Urumqi inmate is Nur Mohammat Yasin, an ethnic Uyghur and author of the book Wild Pigeon. Nowak says he was beaten about the nose. He is serving a 10-year sentence for inciting separatism in the book.

Nowak also appealed for the release of activist and permanent U.S. resident Yang Jianli, who was beaten and handcuffed for two weeks before receiving a five-year sentence in Beijing for espionage and illegal border crossing.

Two former journalists, a Chinese Democratic Party member, and three ethnic Tibetans were also recommended for release.

"Since he has been convicted of a political crime, possibly on the basis of information extracted by torture, the special rapporteur appeals to the government that he be released," Nowak writes in each of the eight cases. ADVERTISEMENT

Nowak also suggests warm clothes, appointment of an English-speaking lawyer and family contact for Evance Orphan Minison, a Malawi citizen detained in Urumqi since June 2005 on drug charges.

However, 66 percent of the 314 torture cases he has tracked in China since 2000 involved practitioners of the banned Falun Gong spiritual movement, the report says.

Ethnic Uyghurs accounted for 11 percent of the cases, human rights activists for 5 percent and political dissidents for 2 percent.

Shortly before the end of his Nov. 20-Dec. 2 China visit, Nowak told reporters that torture had declined in the country, especially in urban areas, but that it remained "widespread."

He said Chinese authorities tried to block his contact with alleged torture victims and their supporters or family members, and the report details some of those encounters.

Officials from the Chinese Foreign Ministry and Ministry of Public Security have rejected Nowak's accusations.

On Tuesday, Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said Nowak's report contains "some outstanding problems" such as incomplete information, misunderstandings of Chinese law, "unfair" conclusions and comments that go beyond the rapporteur's authority.

"We have expressed regret and dissatisfaction that the rapporteur could not in all aspects objectively reflect China's real situation of opposing torture," Qin said at a scheduled press briefing.

24-03-06, 16:33
[prisoners from Tibet and one from Xinjiang (East Turkestan) in recent years, generally timed to coincide with specific periods of US-China engagement involving criticisms of Beijing's human rights record. Uyghur prisoner Rebiya Kadeer was released to the US in March 2005 after serving six years of an eight year sentence, soon before US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice traveled to the PRC. Ngawang Sangdrol's release to the US in March 2003 after serving 11 years of a 21-year sentence came before a significant visit of the then Chinese President Jiang Zemin to America.

Phuntsog Nyidrol, who was serving the longest sentence of female political prisoners after Ngawang Sangdrol's 21 years, was released soon after the US State Department released its annual human rights report that found China guilty of 'serious human rights abuses' in Tibet, including "execution without due process, torture, arbitrary arrest, detention without public trial, and lengthy detention of Tibetans for peacefully expressing their political or religious views." The report was thought to lay the path for the US to table a critical resolution on China at the UN Commission of Human Rights meeting in Geneva that year.

Ngawang Sangdrol, who shared a cell with Phuntsog Nyidrol for several years, said today: "It is overwhelming to see Phuntsog Nyidrol again. In prison, she was always so strong, we thought she could do anything, and she had great self-confidence and courage. We had no chance to study in prison, but she was so hard-working in the labor tasks assigned to her, and very devoted in her Buddhist practice."

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