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China dissident brands nephew's conviction 'revenge'
by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) Dec 2, 2012

China court denies jailing government 'interceptors': report
Beijing (AFP) Dec 2, 2012 - A Chinese court has asked for an apology from a newspaper which said it jailed 10 "interceptors" who illegally held petitioners attempting to lodge complaints with the government, state media reported Sunday.

The state-run Beijing Youth Daily reported Sunday that 10 were imprisoned for illegally detaining people from the central province of Henan who had travelled to Beijing to complain about local government abuses.

The widely-circulated report struck a chord among many Chinese dissatisfied with the age-old "petitioning" system, which allows citizens to request the central government to investigate disputes such as land grabs and unpaid wages.

Officials, eager to protect their reputations, often employ "interceptors" to catch petitioners and detain them in secret facilities known as "black jails" to prevent them from lodging complaints.

The newspaper said a Beijing court handed down sentences ranging from several months to a year-and-a-half in prison for "illegal imprisonment", the first time such workers have been sentenced in the capital.

But a court spokeswoman branded the report, which was carried by most major Chinese news websites and widely spread on Chinese social networking websites, as "fake news", another state-run newspaper, the China Daily, reported.

The spokeswoman, who was not named, "confirmed a case involving city officials from Henan had been heard", but "denied judges had handed down any verdict", the paper said.

Beijing's Chaoyang District Court, which reportedly handed down the verdict, is "in negotiations with Beijing Youth Daily over the printing of an apology and explanation", the paper said.

The China Daily's website appeared to remove the report later on Sunday, but the official microblog account of the People's Daily, the mouthpiece of China's ruling communist party, also issued a denial of the Beijing Youth Daily story.

"A People's Daily reporter understood from the Beijing high court that there has not been a verdict on the case, and the news was inaccurate," a post on the microblog said.

Users of Sina Weibo, a microblogging website similar to Twitter, expressed disappointment that the interceptors, who are widely reviled figures in China, had not been jailed.

"This news made people so happy, how could it turn out to be fake?" one user wrote.

"I look forward to this news really coming true," wrote another.

Calls to the Chaoyang District Court went unanswered Sunday.

Petitioners said their interceptors wore badges showing their affiliation with the Henan government and detained them in a facility run by Henan officials in Beijing, where they were also beaten, according to the Beijing Youth Daily report.

Despite years of calls for China to shut down its "black jails", including from Chinese media, rights groups continue to report frequent cases of petitioners being illegally detained and physically assaulted.

Chinese blind activist Chen Guangcheng said in a video released Sunday that a three-year jail sentence handed to his nephew was "revenge" for his dramatic escape to the US embassy earlier this year.

Chen, who was imprisoned after exposing abuses under China's "one child" population control policy, caused a diplomatic row when he escaped house arrest in his village in Shandong province and reached the US mission in Beijing.

As he was freed to leave for the United States, government officials and police descended on his village home, prompting his nephew Chen Kegui to attack them with a kitchen knife, wounding three people.

A Chinese court on Friday sentenced him to more than three years in jail.

"Because I fled the country... the government officials have enacted revenge on my nephew Chen Kegui," Chen said in a video released by the US-based advocacy group China Aid.

"Chen Kegui tried to defend our family, but he was arrested and is still in jail today," Chen said, adding that "the corrupt officials who ordered his arrest... got promoted."

Chen Kegui's trial drew strong criticism from rights groups as his family members were informed about the trial just hours before it began and he was not allowed to choose his own defense lawyer.

The United States also blasted the Chinese authorities for his jailing, saying he was the victim of a "deeply flawed legal process."

Chen Guangcheng said Chinese officials had not kept their promise to investigate years of abuse suffered by his family at the hands of local officials.

"The Chinese government made a promise to me... to have a through investigation of those persecuting me and my family... and to make the decisions public, yet they have not kept their word," he said.

One of China's best-known activists, Chen plaudits for investigating rights abuses including forced sterilizations and late-term abortions under China's "one-child" family planning policy.

After being released from a four-year jail term in September 2010, Chen was put under house arrest in Shandong but fled to the US embassy in Beijing from under the noses of plain-clothes police on April 22.

Chinese and American diplomats scrambled to find a solution and defuse the row. After initially agreeing to stay in China, Chen decided he wanted to leave for the US and Beijing eventually agreed to allow him to apply to study abroad.

China defends Chen Kegui conviction, Tibet policy
Beijing (AFP) Dec 3, 2012 - China defended its human rights record Monday after the United States slammed Beijing for the jailing of the nephew of blind lawyer Chen Guangcheng and voiced concerns over its policy in Tibet.

Chen, who was imprisoned after exposing abuses under China's "one child" population control policy, caused a diplomatic row when he escaped house arrest in his village in Shandong province and reached the US mission in Beijing.

As he was freed to leave for the United States, government officials and police descended on his village home, prompting his nephew Chen Kegui to attack them with a kitchen knife, wounding three people.

Chen Kegui was sentenced to three years and three months on Friday in what the US State Department called a "deeply flawed legal process".

"The legitimate rights and interests of relevant personnel have been duly protected," China's foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei said when asked to respond to the US reaction on Chen's sentencing.

"We express strong dissatisfaction with relevant country's gross interference in China's internal affairs and absolutely cannot accept this."

On Friday, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters the conviction was a violation to internationally accepted human rights norms.

"We are deeply disturbed about reports that Chen Kegui, the nephew of human rights advocate Chen Guangcheng, was tried and convicted (Friday) in a legal proceeding in China that lacked basic due process guarantees," Nuland said.

"He was convicted in a summary trial in which he was not fully represented by legal counsel of his choosing. He didn't have an opportunity to present his own defence. So this was a deeply flawed legal process."

She further announced that the families of three of the over 80 Tibetans who have set themselves alight to protest China's rule since 2009 met with Assistant Secretary of State Mike Posner on Thursday last week.

Posner voiced "deepest condolences and our grave concern for the spiralling violence and harsh crackdown in Tibetan areas as well as... grief with regard to the self-immolations," Nuland said.

"We remain very concerned about rising tensions that result from counterproductive policies, including those that limit freedom of religion, freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and association in Tibet," she said.

Hong said the meeting further marked "gross interference in China's internal affairs" and insisted that people in Tibet were "leading happy and peaceful lives".


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