Kinesisk lovforslag farlig for frie ytrere i Hongkong

Photo by Lai Man Nung on Unsplash

Norsk PEN følger utviklingen i Hongkong med stigende uro og anmoder Kina og lokalregjeringen i Hongkong om å ta demonstrantenes krav på alvor.

Trine Angelskår, leder av Norsk PENs Kinautvalg

«Befolkningen i Hongkong har gjennom fredelige demonstrasjoner gjort det klart at de frykter å miste ytringsfriheten og rettssikkerheten som de har krav på i dag», sier Trine Angelskår, leder av Norsk PENs Kinautvalg.

Det som begynte som en protest mot et lovforslag som ville gjøre det mulig å utlevere mistenkte kriminelle til Fastlands-Kina, har i løpet av sommeren utviklet seg til en langt bredere bevegelse som handler om hongkongernes rett til selvbestemmelse under den såkalte «ett land, to systemer»-modellen. Søndag 18. august deltok 1,7 millioner mennesker – nesten en fjerdedel av befolkningen – i et fredelig demonstrasjonstog, ifølge arrangørene. 

«Kina må respektere Hongkongs minigrunnlov og avtalen som ble inngått med Storbritannia i 1997,» sier Trine Angelskår.

Hun minner om at Kina har forpliktet seg til å respektere Hongkongs særstatus i 50 år, fram til 2047. Innbyggerne skal ha organisasjonsfrihet samt presse- og ytringsfrihet, og ingen skal risikere å bli forfulgt på grunn av sin politiske overbevisning. Mange innbyggere i Hongkong opplever Beijing-myndighetene som stadig mer nærgående, og at de på ulike vis blander seg inn i territoriets indre forhold. 

«De siste årene har vi sett at flere forleggere i Hongkong enten er blitt tvunget til taushet eller bortført av Beijing-myndighetene. Lovforslaget om utlevering til Fastlands-Kina ville gjort tilværelsen enda farligere for hongkongere som skriver eller ytrer meninger som er på kant med det kinesiske kommunistpartiet,» sier hun.

Norsk PEN er særlig opptatt av å beskytte forfattere, journalister og andre som blir utsatt for trusler eller forfølgelse for å ha benyttet seg av sin grunnleggende rett til å ytre seg fritt.

Oslo, 22. august 2019.

Demonstrasjoner over hele verden mot Pussy Riot-dom

PEN International’s Writers in Prison Committee is shocked at the two year prison sentence handed down today to the three members of the Russian punk band, Pussy Riot, Maria Alyokhina, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Ekaterina Samusevich under Article 213 of the Russian Criminal Code. The sentence was read today at the Khamovnichesky Court in Moscow.

The three women had been held in custody since early March with their trial not beginning until July.

During the trial the women were locked in a bulletproof cage and according to their lawyers were not giving food or water for long periods of time. The prosecution and its witnesses argued that the bands act had betrayed a deep hatred of all Orthodox Christians and was not motivated not by their outrage at the Putin regime, as they woman had stated.

PEN International monitored the trial where the defence was repeatedly denied the right to make objections, to call their witnesses and at times even to speak. The repressive nature of this judicial process is of increasing concern for PEN International, further highlighting the ongoing repression of free speech in Russia.

The decision comes nearly 6 months after the three women were taken into custody and charged with “hooliganism” motivated by religious hatred, an offence carrying a maximum seven-year term. On 21 February the three women walked into the Christ the Saviour Cathedral in Moscow wearing colourful masks and performed a song with the aim of highlighting the close relationship between the Orthodox Church and Putin.

The women were arrested two weeks later.

According to reports and videos of the event, there was no violence or damage to the premises, and PEN International believes that the women have been treated particularly severely because of the lyrics of the song they performed and is composed in the form of a supplication or intercession prayer, in this case addressed to the Virgin Mary.

The heavy prison sentence announced today, which has caused widespread outrage, is huge blow for freedom of expression in Russia and highlight the growing trend of oppression in the country.

For more information on the case see our RAN alert’s:

http://www.pen-international.org/newsitems/russia-pussy-riot-trial-closes-%E2%80%93-verdict-due-17-august/

PEN International published a translation of their “punk prayer” Punk Moleben and its context:

http://www.pen-international.org/newsitems/russia-pussy-riot-punk-moleben-put-putin-away/

PEN Russia’s open letter to Vladimir Putin in support of Pussy Riot members:

http://www.pen-international.org/newsitems/pen-russia-protests-pussy-riot-detentions/

 

Appeals

Please send letters

– Expressing shock at the two year sentences served against Maria Alyokhina, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Ekaterina
Samusevich
– Adding that long term imprisonment for an action that did not cause physical damage to any person, building or property  would in other circumstances have resulted in a lesser punishment, caution or financial penalty ;
– Pointing out that the harsh sentence is clearly in retaliation for the lyrics of the song performed by Pussy Riot members, containing language that is strongly critical of the Church and of President Putin in particular, and is this in breach of  international conventions, specifically Article 19 of the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights, to which Russia is a signatory;

Therefore calling for the immediate and unconditional release of the three women.

Address:
You can send messages to President Putin on the Kremlin website
http://eng.letters.kremlin.ru/

Or by mail:
President Vladimir Putin
President of the Russian Federation
23, Ilyinka Street,
Moscow, 103132
Russia

You may find that the Russian ambassador in your own country is more likely to respond to your appeals, so we recommend that you either write to him or her directly or send a copy of your appeal.