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Chinese Christian activist wins human rights award. (Update: Never mind)

Hu Jia awarded Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought at the beginning of his three-year jail term in China.

Hu Jia, who was among those named in our map of pre-Olympic arrests in China, was awarded the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought.

The European Parliament gives out the prestigious annual award. Their press release says:

Hu Jia is a prominent human rights activist and dissident in the People's Republic of China. He has embraced a wide range of causes, including environmental issues, HIV/AIDS advocacy and a call for an official enquiry into the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre. He has also acted as a coordinator of the 'barefoot lawyers movement'.

Having already been arrested several times, he spoke to MEPs in November 2007 from house arrest via conference call during a public meeting of the EP Human Rights Subcommittee on human rights in China in the run-up to the Olympic Games. As a result he was charged by the authorities with "inciting subversion of state power" and sentenced on 3 April 2008 to three-and-a-half years in jail.

The prize puts China - which is reportedly pretty steamed - in the awkward position of having an internationally recognized lawyer in prison.

The U.S. State Department and other organizations are demanding Hu's release: "We are deeply concerned about the imprisonment of human rights activist Hu Jia and have pressed the Chinese authorities for his immediate release on many occasions and at the highest level," State Department spokesman Gordon Duguid told The Age.

Although the European Parliament statement, the Wikipedia page, and reports by The New York Times, BBC, and others don't mention it, Hu is a Christian and one of many Christian human rights activists fighting for human rights in China.

* * *

While one source listed Hu Jia as a Christian, he is a Buddhist, according to China Aid and others. My apologies.

Posted:October 24, 2008 at 10:05AM
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