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Hu's Sakharov Prize prompts Chinese ire

Hu's Sakharov Prize prompts Chinese ire
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Human rights matters threaten to heighten EU-China diplomatic friction. Beijing has called the matter “trivial” yet “deeply dissatisfying” that Hu Jia has been awarded the European Parliament’s top human rights prize. The assembly’s president said this was a signal of support to all those standing up for human rights in China.

The dissident Hu is in prison on a subversion charge because he testified to the assembly about conditions in his country.

Hans-Gert Pöttering said: “Last April, he was sentenced to three and a half years. Today in the solitude of his cell he is fighting his illness – cirrhosis of the liver – alone. The authorities are refusing him proper medical care.”

On the eve of an Asia-Europe Meeting in Beijing that starts today, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman said the parliament was meddling in China’s domestic affairs, but it
would not overshadow the summit. The spokesman said Hu was a criminal.

Beijing had lobbied hard to prevent the prize going to him. Hu spoke up for rural AIDS sufferers first, then for democratic rights, religious freedom and for self-determination for Tibet. He spent many months under house arrest with his wife and child.

The formal ceremony to award the Sakharov honour will take place in Strasbourg on December 17.

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