Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Are My Hands Clean?

Voice of America News:

The estimates of the number of Chinese people still in prison for their activities in 1989 range from 50 to 200.

John Kamm, whose San Francisco-based Dui Hua Foundation tracks political prisoners in China, says the list of so-called June 4 prisoners includes people all over the country.

"There's a fellow called Liu Zhihua, in Hunan," said . He's the last of a group of workers that organized one of the largest worker strikes in 1989, at the Xiangtan Electrical Machinery Factory. Leader Chen Gang, everyone else, has been released. He's still in. There's a peasant in Guizhou, by the name of Hu Xinghua, Miao nationality, set up something called the Chinese People's Solidarity Party. He's still in."

Kamm's organization and other human rights groups are calling on the Chinese government to release people put in jail for their 1989 activities, as a goodwill gesture before the Beijing Olympics in August.

"China, if you want to do something to improve your image, how about setting free the remaining June 4 prisoners, putting June 4 behind you?" he said.

The Guardian:

The United States is operating "floating prisons" to house those arrested in its war on terror, according to human rights lawyers, who claim there has been an attempt to conceal the numbers and whereabouts of detainees.

Details of ships where detainees have been held and sites allegedly being used in countries across the world have been compiled as the debate over detention without trial intensifies on both sides of the Atlantic. The US government was yesterday urged to list the names and whereabouts of all those detained.

Information about the operation of prison ships has emerged through a number of sources, including statements from the US military, the Council of Europe and related parliamentary bodies, and the testimonies of prisoners.

- snip! -

According to research carried out by Reprieve, the US may have used as many as 17 ships as "floating prisons" since 2001. Detainees are interrogated aboard the vessels and then rendered to other, often undisclosed, locations, it is claimed.

- snip! -

The Reprieve study includes the account of a prisoner released from Guantánamo Bay, who described a fellow inmate's story of detention on an amphibious assault ship. "One of my fellow prisoners in Guantánamo was at sea on an American ship with about 50 others before coming to Guantánamo ... he was in the cage next to me. He told me that there were about 50 other people on the ship. They were all closed off in the bottom of the ship. The prisoner commented to me that it was like something you see on TV. The people held on the ship were beaten even more severely than in Guantánamo."

Clive Stafford Smith, Reprieve's legal director, said: "They choose ships to try to keep their misconduct as far as possible from the prying eyes of the media and lawyers. We will eventually reunite these ghost prisoners with their legal rights.

"By its own admission, the US government is currently detaining at least 26,000 people without trial in secret prisons, and information suggests up to 80,000 have been 'through the system' since 2001. The US government must show a commitment to rights and basic humanity by immediately revealing who these people are, where they are, and what has been done to them."

Twenty-six thousand.

Crossposted at Blanton's and Ashton's.



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