Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Blog #8 Rights groups welcome release of Chinese women activists

Rights groups welcome release of Chinese women activists
Human Rights groups have welcomed China's release of five activists who were held for more than a month, saying it was driven by an international outcry. The women, who were detained right before International Women's Day (March 8), planned many priests against sexual harassment. The US, UK, and European Union all called for their release. 
There have not been charges against the five activists, but the bail conditions mean there will be charges given at a later date. Liang Xaiojun, their lawyer, said they would need to let their whereabouts be known to authorities. Maya Want from Human Rights Watch stated that their release "shows international pressure works on China, when it is strong enough", and authorities should "cease harassment". William Nee, from Amnesty International said the release was "an encouraging breakthrough", but that "the authorities must now follow through and drop all charges and restrictions against the women". The co-founder of Yirenping, a Chinese campaign group that some of the women were involved with, said their detention was "a glaring injustice", but advocacy for their release has "actually furthered legal protection of women's rights and strengthened the rule of law in China".

The women, who are part of China's Women's Rights Action Group, are free on bail, but will remain under surveillance by authorities. Many see the arrests as a warning for civil rights groups in China to decrease their activities. This year's International Women's Day coincided with China's annual parliamentary session, which usually has tight security and is often preceded by the detention of activistsThe women planned activities including gatherings in Beijing and Guangzhou calling for awareness of sexual harassment on buses and a march in a Beijing park where participants would wear stickers advocating safe sex. China said on Monday it had lodged a formal complaint to the US over a statement by Secretary of State John Kerry at the weekend in which he called for their unconditional release.

It is welcomed news to hear that these women have been released from detainment. I believe that China is using these women as examples of what could happen if activists continue to voice their opinion of what needs to be changed in China. From the article, it seems as though the activists had very peaceful plans such as a march while wearing stickers and gatherings. These are very non-violent types of protest, and usually are not means for detainment. I definitely think that China is using these women as a scare tactic to keep other protesters and activists under wraps. This is the issue that I have with governmental authority. China is supposedly a democratic nation. They are democratic in the sense that you vote for your leaders, but any time you wish to voice your opinion (and it's different from the norm) you run the risk of being detained. The same goes hear in the United States. There have been multiple times that peaceful protesters have been detained, beaten, sprayed with mace, or even killed. Stories like this make me never want to attend a protest, even if it is peaceful, out of simple fear for my life and my freedom. 

Andrika Payne

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