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Thursday, August 14, 2008      

Amnesty International: Quarter million Chinese
in 're-education' camps

China continues to hold in detention thousands of political prisoners, a senior Amnesty International official said recently.

“There are over 250,000 people detained in labor camps called reeducation through labor,” said T. Kumar, Amnesty’s USA rights specialist on China.

Under the political prison system, “anyone can be imprisoned, without any charge or trial, by a local police officer.”

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“That system is extremely abusive. And a local police officer can, without any judicial authority, imprison anyone at their whim for up to four years,” he said.

Religious freedom doesn't exist in China, he said. “People don't have independence of judiciary or press freedom there. Political prisoners have been executed in the province of Xinjiang. And people have been tortured, imprisoned. And hundreds have died as a result of that. China executes more people than the rest of the world combined,” Kumar said.

Kumar spoke to reporters in Washington on Aug. 7.

In 2001, China promised to respect human rights and basic freedoms when it won the bid to hold the 2008 Summer Olympics. However, Kumar said China’s record of rights abuses has worsened. “More people have been arrested. More people have been imprisoned. More abuses have been committed.”

Kumar had called on President Bush to meet with families of imprisoned dissidents and political activists during his visit to Beijing. The president did not do so.


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