China defends Chen Kegui conviction, Tibet policy
BEIJING (AFP): China defended its human rights record Monday after the United States slammed Beijing for the jailing of the nephew of blind lawyer Chen Guangcheng and voiced concerns over its policy in Tibet.
Chen, who was imprisoned after exposing abuses under China’s “one child” population control policy, caused a diplomatic row when he escaped house arrest in his village in Shandong province and reached the US mission in Beijing.
As he was freed to leave for the United States, government officials and police descended on his village home, prompting his nephew Chen Kegui to attack them with a kitchen knife, wounding three people.
Chen Kegui was sentenced to three years and three months on Friday in what the US State Department called a “deeply flawed legal process”.
“The legitimate rights and interests of relevant personnel have been duly protected,” China’s foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei said when asked to respond to the US reaction on Chen’s sentencing.
“We express strong dissatisfaction with relevant country’s gross interference in China’s internal affairs and absolutely cannot accept this.”
On Friday, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters the conviction was a violation to internationally accepted human rights norms.
“We are deeply disturbed about reports that Chen Kegui, the nephew of human rights advocate Chen Guangcheng, was tried and convicted (Friday) in a legal proceeding in China that lacked basic due process guarantees,” Nuland said.
“He was convicted in a summary trial in which he was not fully represented by legal counsel of his choosing. He didn’t have an opportunity to present his own defence. So this was a deeply flawed legal process.”
She further announced that the families of three of the over 80 Tibetans who have set themselves alight to protest China’s rule since 2009 met with Assistant Secretary of State Mike Posner on Thursday last week.
Posner voiced “deepest condolences and our grave concern for the spiralling violence and harsh crackdown in Tibetan areas as well as… grief with regard to the self-immolations,” Nuland said.
“We remain very concerned about rising tensions that result from counterproductive policies, including those that limit freedom of religion, freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and association in Tibet,” she said.
Hong said the meeting further marked “gross interference in China’s internal affairs” and insisted that people in Tibet were “leading happy and peaceful lives”.
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