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March 20, 2006

Comments

Rebecca MacKinnon

Dobel,
Actually I lived in China for a total of 11 years, and I speak fluent Chinese. As a journalist I did a lot of stories about religion in China. I interviewed people who had been persecuted and family members of people who are in jail because of their activities in underground Christian churches.

Of course, it is ture that there are many Christian churches that are sanctioned by the government and agree not to contradict the authority of the Communist Party. People who are members of these churches are free to attend church and practice their religion.

So yes, there is relative freedom of religion in China as long as your religius practice stays within certain government-sanctioned boundaries. But freedom ends if you cross those boundaries.

It's also true that some of the undergound churches are very cultish and manipulative, while others are quite similar in their practices to relatively mainstream and respectable groups in other countries. However I think that if these groups were not driven underground, if filmakers were allowed to do documentaries about them and if the Chinese media could interview those religious leaders, people would actually get a chance to judge who are the tricksters and cultists, and who are honorable.

gerry nucifora

I worked on a film, American/ Chinese co prodution in China last year , on which Hao Wu was our Translator/assistant...
He is a fine sensitive person who I believe could do no harm to anyone ....
During the filming Hao was constantly helping with anything he could even out of work hours..
The crew was made up of 90% Chinese and a very small amount of Foreigners so Hao's help for both crews was immeasureable ...
I think there must be some mistake, maybe wrong place at the wrong time ...
I hope he is released soon and reunited back to his family soon ....
my thoughts are with you and your family ...

fiddlesticks

hao's detention is not comparable with branzburg v hayes.

hao has been held for over a month without having been charged with a crime.

branzburg v hayes compels testimony before grand jury investigations, and says such compulsion does not infringe upon journalists' first amendment rights.

(setting aside for now the lack of such rights under the chinese constitution...)

it doesn't say the government can hold a journalist in secret without right to an attorney, right to regular communication with family, or that they can detain someone indefinitely without charging them.

(for that expansion of powers you have to look to the patriot act...)

mahathir_fan

"(setting aside for now the lack of such rights under the chinese constitution...)"

What do you mean that there is no freedom of press in chinese constitution? Chinese constituion guarantees in it rights that are accorded by the US first amendment in Article 35. In fact, it is more clear about this than the first amendment. The first amendment stated that 'Congress shall pass no law' and it is only the Supreme Court that interpreted it to mean that it is a right, while the Chinese constitution explictly state that it is a right.

It is because of the same rights enjoyed by both Americans and Chinese in both countries by the constitutions that I suggest that precedence from the US Supreme Court is applicable to the People's Court.

"Article 35. Freedom of speech, press, assembly

Citizens of the People's Republic of China enjoy freedom of speech, of the press, of assembly, of association, of procession and of demonstration."

You said: "it doesn't say the government can hold a journalist in secret without right to an attorney, right to regular communication with family, or that they can detain someone indefinitely without charging them."

Based on my reading from Rebecca's posting, Hao is not held in secret. Hao has an attorney and is allowed to speak with his family:

"Hao had also been in phone contact with Gao Zhisheng, a lawyer specializing in human rights cases. "

"Hao has been in touch his family since Feb. 22,"

The only accusation from your statement that I agree with based on my reading of the matter is that he is held without charge. I do not know why this is the case, but I suspect that the reason is because the authorities do not wish to formally press charges because this could result in longer detention time for Hao as the case winds its way through the bureaucracy. My speculation is that the authorities hope that Hao will quickly decide to cooperate and hand over evidence so that he can be released promptly.

Afterall, what could be the motive of the authorities for holding Hao aside from that he has evidence and can provide testimony against the underground Christian cults?

bobby fletcher

Rebecca, your comment about "relative freedom of religion" comment applies to US as well. I needn't remind you what happened to the Davidian's "absolute freedom of religion".

fiddlesticks

branzburg v hayes has nothing to do with anything. you are talking about using the principle of precedence to argue before the people's court in china which does not recognize precedence as legally binding -- the concept of stare decisis is core to the common law system of the US and England, and China is a civil law system (like the French and the Germans). aside from the issue of sovereignty, it makes no more sense to use a US supreme court case to argue the principle of precedence before a court in China than it would in Germany.

i repeat: as far as is known right now, hao is being held without knowing the charges against him, he is not able to communicate freely and regularly without duress to his family, it is not known where he is and what condition he is in, and there is a big difference between his family members having retained a lawyer and he himself having direct access to representation.

this sweet, bright, and maybe a touch naieve young man has found himself being held by state security police. to argue simply in a circular fashion that 'the police must have a reason' and to conclude therefore that hao must have done something wrong and therefore does not deserve to have access to a lawyer, to have visitation with his family, and does deserve to know the charges against him is fraudulent and fallacious reasoning at best.

bobby fletcher

fiddlesticks, if you want to take the line of sovereignty, then it's not possible to ignore the fact administrative detention is part of China's law enforcement regime, is it?

And IMHO is not unresonable to use other cases, legally effective or not, to demonstrate certain legal principles, either.

Many Americans are willing to conceed on the issue of our government's detention of innocent people in Guantanamo Bay, in contradiction of international laws and even our own laws; I don't see where the consistency is.

If we really believe in these values, then we had better practice it ourselves. If in actuality we can't even do it ourselves, because some silly political reason, then in reality such rights and values are merely "theoritical" which may not exist at all.

mahathir_fan

"aside from the issue of sovereignty, it makes no more sense to use a US supreme court case to argue the principle of precedence before a court in China than it would in Germany."

True, however, judges from both common and civil laws still relies on precedence to achieve consistency. The difference is whether precedence becomes law. The results of branzburg v. hayes is not legally binding for the people's court, but it is still a VERY valid argument point for the prosecutors.

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