Re: Mr. Tan Kai: harassment and wrongful conviction and imprisonment
To: President Hu Jintao, People’s Republic of China
From: Coller Levine, LRWC
Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada (“LRWC”) is a committee of Canadian lawyers providing support internationally to advocates whose rights, safety, or independence are threatened as a result of their human rights advocacy.
LRWC is gravely concerned for the safety and well-being of Mr. Tan Kai because of acts of intimidation perpetrated against him by the Chinese Public Security Bureau. These acts are calculated to prevent Mr. Tan Kai from organizing an association to improve the environmental rights in Huashui Twon, Hongyang City, Zhejiang province, and they deprive him of the most fundamental freedoms enjoyed by all citizens of civilized nations in the modern era.
I am writing, as a China Country Monitor for LRWC, in response to information obtained from a variety of sources indicating that Mr. Tan Kai has been intimidated, harassed, detained, and ultimately imprisoned since he, along with others, founded an association named Green Watch in response to severe water and chemical pollution in Huashui Twon, Hongyang City, Zhejiang province. Local citizens were suffering crop losses and birth defects, and Mr. Tan Kai’s real “crime” was to organize a group in support of their concerns. But he was convicted of “illegally obtaining state secrets”, a baseless conviction meant to obfuscate the genuine reason for Mr. Tan Kai’s detention, i.e. to punish for helping people exercise their basic freedoms.
China has a responsibility to adopt such measures as are necessary to guarantee the life and physical safety of Mr. Tan Kai. This duty arises from China’s membership in the United Nations (UN). This same responsibility also arises from many UN conventions and covenants to which China is a signatory including: the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights, and the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, especially Article 1 of that document, which states:
“every person has the right, individually or collectively, to promote the protection and fulfilment of human rights and fundamental liberties at the national and international levels”.
The Declaration on Human Rights Defenders further requires (see Articles 9(5) and 11) your government to conduct a prompt, impartial and effective investigation of the coercive measures taken against Mr. Tan Kai.
Further, China has a responsibility to comply with Article 12.2, which stipulates that:
“the State shall take any necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually or in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure, adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration”,
As well as article 13, which states that:
“everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to solicit, receive and utilise resources for the express purpose of promoting and protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms through peaceful means, in accordance with article 3 of the present Declaration;
China’s failure to protect Mr. Tan Kai’s rights presents a threat to China’s credibility as a signatory to international conventions such as the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights, and the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders.
China’s historical and current persecution of Mr. Tan Kai undermines the efforts China claims to be making to implement the Rule of Law. Clearly there can be no rule of law, and no legitimate legal system deserving of international respect can exist, in an environment where people are routinely deprived of their basic human rights, and even incarcerated, solely for organizing with others to defend the rights of citizens to exercise their human and environmental rights. We’re sure you understand this.
LRWC respectfully urges your government to act in accordance with the provisions of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the other relevant international and regional pacts and covenants ratified by China. The Chinese legal system will never achieve the respect of the international community so long as the Chinese government, courts, police, and Justice Ministry continue to violate many international conventions to which China is a signatory.
LRWC calls upon the government of China to take swift and effective action to ensure the security of all human rights defenders in China so they can continue to carry out their legitimate and important work assisting all people and governments in their efforts to promote human rights.
We further call upon you to release immediately all Chinese human rights defenders who remain arbitrarily detained for the sole reason of their human rights activities, and put an end to any kind of retaliation against them. According to our records, the number of illegal acts of persecution against human rights defenders by authorities in China is higher than the number of such persecutions in all other countries which are notorious for such violations.
Finally, we again call upon you to ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments ratified by the People’s Republic of China.
Please advise LRWC by mail, e-mail or fax of the actions that the government of China is taking to:
1. ensure the present and future safety of Mr. Tan Kai;
2. investigate the intimidation and illegal sanctions against this human rights defender with the goal of identifying the person(s) responsible and bringing them to trial.
LRWC awaits your response. Thank you for your attention to our concerns.