Victims of ‘forced confessions’ urge Western powers to ban Chinese TV channels

Erkin Tursun, a former TV producer whom officials said is serving a 20-year sentence in Xinjiang province, is seen speaking in a video shown at a news conference in Beijing, China on April 9, 2021.
Erkin Tursun, a former TV producer whom officials said is serving a 20-year sentence in Xinjiang province, is seen speaking in a video shown at a news conference in Beijing, China on April 9, 2021. © Reuters TV via Reuters

Thirteen people who describe themselves as “victims of forced confessions broadcast on Chinese television” are urging European satellite operator Eutelsat to reconsider carrying Chinese channels CGTN and CCTV4.

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The letter published by human rights watchdog Safeguard Defenders details a list of violations that the signatories say China is guilty of using to extort confessions from them and "refuse the right to a fair trial".

"We are asking you... to determine whether television providers in democratic societies ought to continue to be morally complicit in the broadcast of information that is intentionally twisted and obtained through torture," the group said. 

"We are only a dozen victims able to speak out.... Many other victims are in prison. A few have been executed.

"The victims have no way of demanding reparations. The only way to stop this is for television regulators to investigate and take measures," the group added. 

The letter notes Australian public broadcaster SBS stopped using content from Chinese state-run television in March pending a review of human rights concerns.

The UK also fined CGTN for partiality and violation of privacy and removed it from the airwaves, a ban that pushed the channel to set up shop in France. 

French audiovisual regulator CSA determined in March that CGTN met the technical criteria necessary for broadcasting but just this week Safeguard Defenders submitted two complaints against the channel. 

One cited an allegedly coerced interview with a Uighur child and the other was a defamation complaint from German researcher Adrian Zenz, whose reports on the treatment of Uighurs in China's western Xinjiang region have drawn rebukes from Beijing.

>> China is pursuing 'demographic genocide' against Uighurs, leading scholar says

The signatories are from China and other countries, including Chinese human rights lawyers Bao Longjun and Jiang Tianyong who have been targeted by authorities in their country. 

Simon Cheng, a former British consulate staffer in Hong Kong, who was granted asylum in the UK after allegedly being tortured by Chinese secret police also signed the letter. 

Also giving support is Swedish activist and Safeguard Defenders co-founder Peter Dahlin, who spent three weeks in jail in 2016 before being expelled from the country as a national security threat.

Angela Gui, daughter of Gui Minhai who published in Hong Kong until he was sentenced to 10 years in prison in 2020, signed on behalf of her father.

(AFP)

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