Human Rights in China’s Incorporating Responsibility 2008 Take Action Campaign (http://www.ir2008.org) highlights individuals in detention and systemic human rights challenges. Each month, the Take Action Campaign will focus on a selected case, beginning in January with Shi Tao, and identify human rights actions that the Chinese government and the international community can take. In January, the campaign also includes resources and links for promoting media freedom.
On April 27, 2005, Chinese journalist Shi Tao was sentenced to ten years’ imprisonment by the Chinese government for “illegally providing state secrets overseas,” after using his personal Yahoo! account to e-mail notes from a meeting in April 2004 about security measures for the fifteenth anniversary of the June 4th crackdown to overseas websites. Human Rights in China’s advocacy on behalf of Shi Tao’s release includes the submission in September 2005 of Shi’s case to the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention. The Working Group decision issued on September 1, 2006, concluded that Shi Tao’s detention violates international due process standards and fundamental human rights, including the right to freedom of expression.
To demonstrate its respect and cooperation with international human rights decisions, China should release Shi Tao immediately.
Eight months before the opening of the Beijing Olympic Games, Human Rights in China urges the Chinese government to stand by the promises it made to its own people and to the international community. “By releasing Shi Tao, the Chinese government can demonstrate that it respects and complies with international human rights standards and decisions, including of independent international bodies like the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention,” said Human Rights in China Executive Director Sharon Hom. In 2001, China assured the International Olympic Committee that it would place no restrictions on media reporting and movement of journalists in the lead-up to and during the Olympic Games. Now is the time to stand by that assurance.
Background on Shi Tao:
Shi Tao was a journalist and head of the news division at the Dangdai Shangbao (Contemporary Business News) in Changsha, Hunan province, prior to his arrest. Shi, originally from Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, had also written essays for overseas Internet forums.
On April 20, 2004, Shi attended a staff meeting at the Contemporary Business News where the contents of a Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Propaganda Bureau document about security concerns and preparation for the upcoming 15th anniversary of the June 4th crackdown were discussed. That evening, from his office, Shi reportedly used his personal Yahoo! e-mail account to send his notes about this meeting to the New York-based website Democracy Forum.
Shi was detained on November 24, 2004 and tried for “illegally providing state secrets overseas” under Article 111 of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) Criminal Law on April 27, 2005. He was sentenced on the same day of his trial to 10 years’ imprisonment. His appeal was denied on June 2, 2005.
On June 4, 2007, Shi Tao was awarded the 2007 Golden Pen of Freedom, an annual press freedom prize from the World Association of Newspapers. Shi Tao’s mother, Gao Qinsheng, traveled to South Africa to receive the award on behalf of her imprisoned son.
Under pressure from the United States Congress and the international community, Yahoo! Inc. announced on November 13, 2007, that it had reached a settlement with the family members of Shi Tao and Wang Xiaoning, another detained Internet activist, who had sued the company over its role in the arrests. Yahoo! Inc. executives have apologized to the families of Shi Tao and Wang Xiaoning, and agreed to establish a human rights fund providing humanitarian and legal aid to those imprisoned for engaging in open discussion on the Internet.
For additional information about Shi Tao, see: