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China rights activist released after serving 4-year sentence

A Chinese prison on Thursday released Chen Guangcheng [HRW case timeline, JURIST news archive], a blind Chinese human rights legal activist who has finished serving a four-year sentence [JURIST report] for damaging property and "organizing a mob to disturb traffic." According to Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website], the Chinese authorities have since placed Chen under house arrest and increased surveillance of his home and family, bringing into question the authenticity of his release [press release]. Family members allege that Chen suffers from health problems caused by mistreatment he received while in prison, including beatings and repeated food poisonings [WP report]. Chen claims the charges were retribution for his documentation of forced sterilizations and abortions [TIME feature] performed by Chinese officials to enforce China's one-child policy.

China's questionable human rights record has recently received international attention. In July, HRW charged that Chinese authorities used excessive force [JURIST report] in responding to the 2008 Tibetan demonstrations [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive] and tortured those in custody following the demonstrations in violation of international law. A week earlier, New York-based human rights group Human Rights in China (HRIC) [advocacy website] released documents that suggested that Chinese Internet regulators have plans to drastically reduce internet anonymity [JURIST report] by requiring users to use their real names when posting on certain Chinese websites. In May, two Chinese human rights lawyers who have represented Falun Gong [group website; BBC backgrounder] defendants were permanently disbarred [JURIST report] after being accused of disrupting courtrooms. Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] criticized the disbarment hearing [press release], calling it "absurd" and claiming that "[g]overnment authorities in China continue to harass and disrupt the work of lawyers taking politically sensitive cases."

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About Paper Chase

Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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