'Human Rights Has Always Been a Core Part of Our Thinking'

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china-xu-zhiyong-court-police-jan-2014.jpg Police stand guard outside the Beijing No. 1 Intermediate People's Court during anti-graft activist Xu Zhiyong's trial on Jan. 22, 2014.

As China tries three activists who called on ruling Chinese Communist Party leaders to reveal details of their wealth, three women in very different situations have their say on the politics of human rights in the country.

Wu Mei-hung, spokeswoman for Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council, the executive body charged with managing an often difficult relationship with rival and neighbor Beijing:

The human rights situation in China has elicited the concern of the international community. Our government has been expressing its concern for a long time.

We have repeatedly called on the mainland authorities to pay attention to ensuring social equity and justice, as well as the protection for human rights, at a time of rapid economic development, and to resolve related and leftover problems in a peaceful manner.

Human rights has always been a core part of our thinking during the cross-straits dialogue in the past, and we hope to continue to use a deepening cross-straits dialogue to promote the development of civil society in mainland China.

We also hope to close the gap between us on the outlook for relevant reforms, so as to create a better environment for happiness for people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait.

Re-education through labor

Henan petitioner Shi Yuhong, who has suffered detentions and official harassment because she complained against the government, says the recent abolition of "re-education through labor" may not be all it appears:

I have heard that now they have just changed the method they use. When I was in the homeless center [in Beijing], officials from my hometown told me that I shouldn't believe they were really doing away with the labor camps. They would just find another way of doing it, calling it restraint, which can go on indefinitely.

There are actually places like that in our area, which used to be re-education through labor camps. Back when I was under house arrest in July, they told me they were busy building "educational centers."
Now they are done building them.

[When I was under house arrest] they would watch us the whole time and prevent us from sleeping.... A lot of those watching us told me about this at the time.

Occupy Hong Kong

Chan Fai, a Hong Kong activist and former "leftist" during British colonial times, said she supports the idea of an "Occupy" movement in the territory's central business district to campaign for full democracy:

Life is politics. Even deciding where to live and where to shop involves politics. Politics is the common sense of citizens. Extreme communist nations like North Korea give people no choice at all, so life isn't the same as politics, because there is no such thing as choice.

But in Hong Kong, we can choose our lives, and Hong Kong people should be proud of the fact that we have that choice.

Caring about politics is the act of a citizen, because social policies affect our lives. How could we not care about politics?

Our current electoral and political system means I haven't ever known this core [right] ... because we don't have universal suffrage.

Reported by Lee Tung and Qiao Long for RFA's Mandarin Service and by Hai Nan for the Cantonese Service. Translated by Luisetta Mudie.


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