China - Europe - Award of European Parliament's Sakharov Prize to Hu Jia hailed as "great victory for Chinese prisoners of conscience"



    MONTREAL, Oct. 23 /CNW Telbec/ - Today's decision by the European
Parliament to award the 2008 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought to Hu Jia,
a Chinese human rights activist held since December 2007 for posting articles
online and giving interviews to foreign journalists, is welcomed with
enthusiasm by Reporters Without Borders.
    "Europe is sending a very strong message of solidarity and hope to
Chinese prisoners of conscience, of whom Hu Jia is one of the best known,"
Reporters Without Borders said. "The Chinese government should heed Europe's
appeal for the release of Hu and other political prisoners. The Chinese
authorities are making a big mistake by treating him as a criminal and by
threatening both the Nobel Peace Prize jury and the European Parliament's
members.
    "The time has come to release Hu and those he defended peacefully,
including Chen Guangcheng, Shi Tao and Xu Zerong. This prize is also being
awarded for Hu's tireless work on behalf of the environment, AIDS suffers and
prisoners of conscience. China needs men and women like Hu.
    "Our thoughts go out above all to Hu's wife, Zeng Jinyan, and their
daughter, who is about to celebrate her first birthday. Watched and harassed
by police officers stationed permanently outside her Beijing apartment
building, Zeng Jinyan will receive the news of this award with great emotion
and dignity, as she has always supported her husband's fight for human rights.
    "We also hail the active support that Hu has received from the European
Parliament's members, especially those in the Greens and Alliance for Liberals
and Democrats groups that nominated him, and the courage of the parliament's
president, Hans Gert Pvttering."
    It was Pvttering who announced to a full session of the parliament at
noon today that Hu Jia was this year's winner of the Sakharov Prize, which
will be awarded at a ceremony in Strasbourg in December.
    The Chinese ambassador to Brussels warned that giving the Sakharov Prize
to Hu would have negative consequences for the European Union's relations with
China. "If the European Parliament should award this prize to Hu Jia, that
would inevitably hurt the Chinese people once again and bring serious damage
to China-EU relations," the ambassador wrote in a letter to Pvttering.
    Aged 35, Hu was recently transferred to Beijing municipal detention
centre after spending five months in Hubai prison in Tianjin, 200 km east of
Beijing. He has not been getting the medicine he needs for a liver ailment and
has been punished several times for defending the rights of fellow inmates.
    Arrested on 27 December 2007 on a charge of "inciting subversion of state
authority," Hu was tried on 18 March before a Beijing intermediate court for
posting information about matters of state on websites based abroad. The court
sentenced him on 3 April 2008 to three and a half years in prison.
    A humanitarian activist since the start of the 1990s, Hu was involved not
only in HIV prevention and helping HIV/AIDS sufferers, but also in protecting
the environment and defending prisoners of conscience. He used the Internet,
especially his blog and videos, to expose the regime's repression of those who
defend human rights.
    He was arrested and held incommunicado for 40 days in the spring of 2006
and, on his release, he was placed under house arrest. Police stationed around
the couple's apartment building prevented him from going out while his wife,
Zeng, was followed whenever she left the apartment.

    Hu and Zeng were awarded the Reporters Without Borders - Fondation de
France special "China" prize in December 2007. Time magazine named Zeng as one
of the world's 100 most influential people in 2007.




For further information:

For further information: Katherine Borlongan, secretary general,
Reporters Without Borders, (514) 521-4111, Cell: (514) 258-4188, Fax: (514)
521-7771, rsfcanada@rsf.org

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