Petition Calls For Activist To Be Allowed to Meet or Call Ailing Mother

Huang Qi's mother Pu Wenqing says she hasn't long to live, and wants a last conversation with her son.

Petition Calls For Activist To Be Allowed to Meet or Call Ailing Mother

Around 100 Chinese nationals have signed a petition calling on the ruling Chinese Communist Party to release a jailed rights activist, or at least allow him a final meeting with his mother.

Both Huang Qi and his mother Pu Wenqing are in failing health, but Pu told RFA on Thursday that she doesn't have long left to live.

"I am seriously ill and have difficulty breathing," Pu said. "I only have one request. I am calling on the central leadership [in Beijing] to send a team to get to the bottom of Huang Qi’s case and deal with it in a just manner."

Pu, 87, was unable to speak for long, as she has terminal lung cancer, she said, but thanked people for their support.

"I have a dozen or so diseases that are all incurable," she said in an earlier interview on April 28. "I have a lung tumor that has metastasized and the original tumor has grown too."

"I won't be alive for much longer," she said. "I think I will probably die without seeing my son again."

Pu has repeatedly called for a last meeting with Huang, who suffers from kidney failure and coronary heart disease, among other things. But the authorities have refused to allow even a final phone call.

As well as the petition, activists have been calling prison bureau officials in the southwestern province of Sichuan, who referred inquiries to Bazhong Prison, where Huang is being held. Employees at the prison said the request would need to be "discussed with the family."

Repeated calls to Bazhong Prison resulted in a busy signal during office hours.

Wide public support

Sichuan resident Xie Junbiao, who signed the petition, said Huang has many supporters among ordinary people who were helped by his organization to fight for their rights, often in relation to land grabs by local governments, forced evictions and other abuses of official power.

"There is a task force assigned to Huang Qi's case, and anything to do with him, including whom he meets, communicates with, has to go through this group," Xie said. "They have to get their leaders' consent for things like phone calls."

He said Pu remains under close surveillance, even on her deathbed.

"They have a team on surveillance downstairs [from her apartment] right now," Xie said. "Medical staff from the hospital have been sent to stay at her home, which is also a stability maintenance measure."

Xie said Huang's supporters didn't really expect their petition to have any effect in the face of such measures by the authorities, but felt they needed to do something.

"We feel very helpless," he said. "We are telling the truth but it doesn't make any difference."

A court in the southwestern province of Sichuan handed down a 12-year jail term to Huang, a veteran rights activist and founder of the Tianwang rights website, on July 29, 2019.

Huang was sentenced by the Mianyang Intermediate People's Court to 12 years of imprisonment, after it found him guilty of "leaking state secrets overseas."

Miscarriage of justice

Huang's lawyers and Pu have said all along that the case against Huang was a miscarriage of justice, even allowing for the traditionally harsh treatment of dissidents in China.

Huang, 57, has been identified by Paris-based press freedom group Reporters Without Borders (RSF) as one of 10 citizen journalists in danger of dying in detention.

He has repeatedly denied the charges made against him and has refused to "confess."

Huang's Tianwang website had a strong track record of highlighting petitions and complaints against official wrongdoing, and injustices meted out to the most vulnerable in society, including forced evictees, parents of children who died in the devastating 2008 Sichuan earthquake, and other peaceful critics of the ruling Chinese Communist Party.

Until her illness progressed, Pu had been a vocal campaigner for Huang's release on urgent medical grounds, and says the charges against him are politically motivated, with no evidence to back them up.

Reported by Gao Feng for RFA's Mandarin Service, and by Wong Lok-to for the Cantonese Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.

Source : Radio Free Asia More   

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'Rethink China Ties,' Last Colonial Governor of Hong Kong Warns UK

Lord Patten says there are widespread concerns that China will disqualify pro-democracy candidates from September's general election in Hong Kong.

'Rethink China Ties,' Last Colonial Governor of Hong Kong Warns UK

Former colonial governor Chris Patten has called on the U.K. to rethink its ties with China's ruling Communist Party, warning of further escalation of political persecution by authorities in Hong Kong.

Lord Patten of Barnes said Beijing appears to be reneging on an international, legally binding treaty governing the status of Hong Kong, which was promised the continuation of its traditional freedoms after the 1997 handover to Chinese rule.

"Beijing officials have made statements about their role in Hong Kong which are a flagrant breach of the Joint Declaration and the Basic Law," Patten wrote to U.K. foreign secretary Dominic Raab, referring to the treaty and to Hong Kong's mini-constitution respectively.

"They claim the right to call all the shots in Hong Kong thus destroying once and for all the promises that Hong Kong would have a high degree of local autonomy," he wrote in the April 26 letter.

The letter said the arrest this month of 15 pro-democracy politicians for taking part in mass, peaceful rallies last year could just be the start of escalating political control by Beijing over Hong Kong.

Patten said there are widespread concerns in Hong Kong that Beijing is getting ready to make "mass disqualifications" of pro-democracy lawmakers and candidates in September's election to the city's Legislative Council (LegCo), "or worse still cancel those elections."

He said Beijing is preparing to enact "draconian" national security legislation outlawing subversion and sedition, and to "continue with the politicised strategy of prosecution" that has seen dozens of people prosecuted for taking part in peaceful assemblies.

"There is no 'golden age' in our relations with the Chinese Communist Party," Patten wrote. "We must work with China even while it suffers under a Communist dictatorship."

"But we should do so with our eyes open and while stripping away the mendacity and the cant," the letter said, referring in particular to attempts by Chinese officials to deny there had been any attempt to cover up human-to-human transmission at the start of the coronavirus epidemic in the central city of Wuhan.

Labor Day gatherings banned

Patten's warning came as police in Hong Kong refused to give permission for a Labor Day demonstration on Friday, warning that anyone who participates in a gathering of more than four people could face up to five years in jail.

"Police have grounds to believe that the activities do not only increase the risk of infecting COVID-19 by participants and other people, but also pose serious threat to the lives and health of all citizens, jeopardizing public safety and affecting the rights of others," the police said in a statement dated April 24.

Police on Thursday fined a group of League of Social Democrats activists after they protested the ban outside police headquarters.

The activists refused to disperse after being ordered to leave by police, saying they had spaced themselves 1.5 metres apart and were divided into groups of four.

Police also used coronavirus as a reason to break up gatherings in malls at the weekend, although the city hadn't seen any new cases for five days straight by Thursday.

Reported by RFA's Cantonese Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.

Source : Radio Free Asia More   

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