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China Escapes UN Human Rights Rebuke - 2002-04-11

China has escaped censure by the U.N. Human Rights Commission, despite the efforts of human rights groups critical of Beijing's treatment of the Falun Gong, Tibetans, and the Muslim Uighur minority.

The deadline passed Wednesday for countries on the U.N. Human Rights Commission to sponsor a resolution criticizing China's human rights record.

In previous years, China received criticism, usually by the United States, for its policies toward Tibet and religious minorities. But with the failure of the United States to secure a seat on the Commission this year, no other country took up the role to sponsor a motion critical of Beijing.

Observers say China has often used procedural tactics to prevent voting on the resolution.

International rights groups, like Human Rights Watch, say even though the United States is not a member of the Commission, it could have done more to aid a resolution being made. They also accuse the European Union of lacking the political will to make China's censure possible.

Human Rights Watch Advocacy Director Reed Brody has said it is very unfortunate that China will not have to defend its human rights record before the Commission. "It is very disappointing that no country, not the United States, not the European Union, has the political will to even propose a resolution to criticize the violations in China," he said. "I think it sends absolutely the wrong signal. If this is a serious commission on human rights, it can not just avoid the question of the daily violations of human rights in China."

An Amnesty International report issued this week says China executed more people than all other countries put together in 2001, a charge Beijing denies.

Mr. Brody of Human Rights Watch said the international war on terrorism has contributed to the lack of a resolution China's alleged abuses.

"I think we are seeing again in the post-September 11 atmosphere, countries are subordinating human rights to other priorities," he said. "China is a partner in global fight against terrorism or is said to be. And countries, particularly the United States but also the European Union apparently are prepared to look the other way and advance other interests when really at a human rights commission it should be the human rights of the people of China whose human rights come to the fore.,"

Mr. Brody said he fears that the failure to censure China will encourage its behavior. He said that rights groups will continue to pressure China on its record.