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Copyright 1998 Associated Press  
AP Worldstream

October 01, 1998; Thursday 10:54 Eastern Time

SECTION: International news

LENGTH: 343 words

HEADLINE: Dissidents call on China to respect international rights treaties


    With China planning to sign a key U.N. rights treaty next week, dissidents in China and in exile issued a statement Thursday calling on Beijing to abolish laws that deprive Chinese of basic rights in violation of international conventions.

Laws that must go include those that require government approval before any organizations can be formed and allow for labor camp sentences of up to three years without trial, the statement said.

It was issued by a group of Beijing dissidents trying to form a China Democracy Party and overseas members of the U.S.-based Free China Movement. The groups said in a statement faxed to The Associated Press that they were disseminating the document in China via the Internet.

''We have seen the threat and harm caused by the lack of a fair and independent legal system to freedom of association and other freedoms,'' the statement said.

Chinese Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan said in Washington that China will sign the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights in New York on Monday.

The covenant, one of two key U.N. rights treaties, calls on signatories to allow freedom of expression, the press, religion and association.

China already has signed the other main treaty, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, but has not ratified it.

Unless China stops violating human rights and changes its laws to comply with the treaties, its promise to abide by them will be ''simply a joke,'' Wang Xizhe, a longtime activist now in exile, said in a news release.

Chinese authorities continue to hold labor and democracy activists in detention centers, prisons and labor camps.

Authorities in the past two weeks have rejected attempts by activists around the country to register the China Democracy Party. Police have detained at least a dozen democracy campaigners, often for short periods of time. Most have connections to the would-be opposition party.

The Communist Party has not allowed any opposition parties to

orm since it came to power 49 years ago.


LOAD-DATE: October 01, 1998

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