The United Nations has asked China to set free three human rights activists. The UN further demands that the individuals be paid compensation for wrongful imprisonment among other damages. According to the report which was released to the guardian, the rights of the three activists were violated.
Hu Shigen, a Christian church leader, and lawyers Xie Yang and Zhou Shifeng were incarcerated and tried in a nationwide crackdown on human rights activists and attorneys that started in July 2015. The covert operation saw the detention and questioning of 250 people.
The Findings of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention
According to the UN report, China has six months to release the activists and compensate them. The UN rejected claims by the Chinese government that the three men had voluntarily confessed their crimes and affirmed that their detentions were not subject to the international standards of the right to fair trials.
The group that reviewed the case, the UN working group on arbitrary detention, is a panel consisting of five experts who fall under UN’s human rights council. China joined the council after running for the seat on August 2016. During this time, it pledged to cooperate with the working group on arbitrary detention and to make unremitting efforts in favor of individual human rights.
The findings of the group was that the trio were denied a host of rights including denying them access to legal counsel, failing to notify their families about their whereabouts, and holding them incommunicado detention.
The Release of Xie
Xie was released on bail in May but his wife confessed that he never lived like a free man. Security agents were stationed blocks from his hall and 12 guards stood guard outside his building. Police would follow him when he was on the move and despite undergoing this surveillance; Xie was required to prepare reports on what he had done and who he had talked to every four hours.
Response of the Chinese Government
The Chinese government has defended its move to incarcerate the trio stating that they were involved in criminal activities. Critics say that Hu was taken into custody for spear heading an underground church that was working against the government. Hu had been previously incarcerated during the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests.
Zhou, a well known human rights lawyer, is the founder of the Fengrui law firm that came to the limelight for the 2015 government “war on law”.
The UN previously demanded the release of Liu Xia, the wife of Lui Xiaobo, Nobel peace prize laureate, who died while in detention. Liu Xia has been subjected to house arrest for almost 7 years.