Aylsham teenager’s poignant human rights report: read it in full here

An Aylsham teenager's 'powerful' description of the plight of a Chinese activist (see below) has put her in line for a leading human rights reporting award.

Katherine Palmer, 16, has been shortlisted for Amnesty International's Young Human Rights Reporter of the Year award.

Nearly 600 children from across the UK entered the competition, with Katherine joining just 10 shortlisted youngsters.

She wrote about Chen Guangcheng, a blind civil rights activist who drew attention to human rights abuses in rural China.

Claire Brayne, Katherine's English teacher, said: 'Katherine is a mature, thoughtful and fluent writer who takes time to craft her ideas and communicate effectively with her audience. Her writing is always reflective and sensitive.'

Pete Henshaw, editor of SecEd, which is jointly running the contest with Amnesty International UK, said: 'With the economic attention of the UK fixed firmly on China, Katherine's piece is a timely reminder of the human rights abuses that still plague the country and the extent to which people are persecuted in China for voicing dissenting opinions.

'Chen Guangcheng's story is powerfully relayed by Katherine and the impact of his campaign to highlight the impact that the country's one-child policy has had on him and his family is poignantly described.'

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The top three in each category - upper secondary and sixth form - will be invited to attend the awards ceremony in London on May 19, with two classmates, a parent or guardian and a teacher.

The winner's work will be shown at Amnesty's annual media awards on May 24.


'Everyone should have a right to speak out without fearing for their life or that of their family. We should all be able to live in a democratic society where the views of its people are listened to.

Is it right that you should be told how many children you have? Can you imagine having to decide whether to put a baby daughter up for adoption, purely because you need a son to support you in your old age? Well, that is exactly what happens in China where the majority of married couples are allowed to have only one precious child. An imbalance in society is being created. There are now 20m boys who will never be able to marry because there are not enough women. This figure is increasing by a staggering 1.5m every year. What will this number become over the next 10 years? Will women become such a precious commodity that a new sort of crime wave hits China?

How would you feel if you were lying in dirty, squalid conditions with poor hygiene, being forced to have an abortion, as you were carrying your second child and then enduring a forced sterilisation to prevent you becoming pregnant again? It is awful to think these inhumane acts are going on in the 21st century, but what makes it worse is that the people committing these illegal acts are local government authorities. There is a man who cared so much that he drew attention to these illegal actions by trying to tell the outside world of these atrocities. This man, Chen Guangcheng, a blind father of one, was unjustly imprisoned for four years and three months for damaging property and disrupting traffic.

Upon being released in September 2010 he hasn't become a free man, but instead is under house arrest in his own home together with his wife and young daughter. It is not just their lives that are being destroyed. Other family members are also facing persecution – just for being related to Chen. Can this possibly be right?

Chen is ill and needs medical care but the authorities are denying him this. His wife cannot leave the house to go food shopping.

I urge the Chinese authorities to show compassion. Release Chen and let him have the urgent medical care he so badly needs. Allow his wife, Yuan, and their daughter to go to the shops. What harm can they possibly do? Surely a five year old girl should not be living this nightmare, wondering why she is unable to go beyond the door of her own house.

Chen did break the Chinese law by speaking out but everyone should have a right to free speech. Free speech needs to be a right for everyone rather than a privilege of the few. No one should be persecuted for speaking. We do not need more civil unrest whilst civilians try to oust their governments for not giving them this right.