News / Asia

Obama, Hu Urged to Hold Substantive Human Rights Talks

Geng He, the wife of Gao Zhisheng, a political prisoner and China's leading human rights lawyer, speaks in front of her husband's portrait during a news conference, Washington, 18 Jan 2011
Geng He, the wife of Gao Zhisheng, a political prisoner and China's leading human rights lawyer, speaks in front of her husband's portrait during a news conference, Washington, 18 Jan 2011

Veteran Chinese dissident Bao Tong’s phone was cut off last October, shortly after the Nobel Peace Prize committee named jailed Chinese writer Liu Xiaobo its 2010 laureate. Bao’s phone service was only recently restored.

Bao is the highest ranking person to have been jailed for supporting protesting students in Beijing in 1989.

He, along with other activists are hoping Presidents Barack Obama and Hu Jintao will hold substantive talks about Beijing's human rights record during Mr. Hu's state visit to Washington, which began on Tuesday. The Chinese leader is scheduled to hold extensive talks with Mr. Obama, meetings with congressional leaders and take a trip to Chicago.

Bao says human rights is too important of an issue for the two leaders not to talk about. The discussions should not just be superficial, Bao adds, but should be in depth and have results.

Another activist, Ding Zilin, is one of the main organizers of a group called "Tiananmen Mothers," made up of people whose family members were killed when Chinese troops crushed the demonstrations in 1989. Her son was killed.

She says she thinks Sino-American differences in human rights have been overshadowed by economic disputes and security issues. Therefore, she says she would like to see how Mr. Obama and Mr. Hu discuss human rights. Ding says she does not want their talks to be like before, when, in her opinion, talk about human rights was just a show.

She is especially angered by the Chinese government’s response to Liu Xiaobo’s Nobel Prize. The reaction included putting Liu’s wife, Liu Xia, under house arrest, and cutting off her communication with the outside world, even though she has committed no crime.

Ding is one of scores of activists in China who were put under house arrest after Liu won the prize. Like Bao Tong, her phone was only recently restored.

Authorities also harassed Chinese lawyers who were active in defending civil society cases.

Martin Flaherty is a law professor at Fordham University. He works with the Committee to Support Chinese Lawyers, made up of lawyers from outside China who seek to promote the independence of Chinese lawyers.

"You know the larger story, as I am sure you know, is that in the last two years or so, maybe two and a half years, there has been what appears to be a concerted crackdown on the small number of civil rights and human rights lawyers in China," Flahery said. "You know, we've had some fairly high profile ones."

One example of this crackdown is Gao Zhisheng, a human rights lawyer who disappeared into police detention in 2009. He briefly resurfaced last April, but then disappeared again.

Gao was jailed on subversion charges in 2006, but his sentence was suspended and he was released early. He has been described as a galvanizing force for China’s rights movement, and has argued cases to defend property rights, as well as political and religious dissenters.

Gao’s wife Geng He, who fled to the United States, has appealed to President Obama to raise her husband’s case with President Hu.

Critics of China’s human rights record on Capitol Hill urged President Obama to call on the Chinese government to also release Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo.

China denies abusing human rights and says Liu Xiaobo is a convicted criminal. China also points to its economic growth, which has lifted hundreds of millions of people out of extreme poverty, as proof of its concern for human rights.

Although China still makes clear it does not tolerate much dissent, Chinese citizens in the past 30 years have gotten increased freedom to travel domestically and aboard, while people also have access to a greater range of publications and television programming than they did a few decades ago.

You May Like

Photogallery Pistorius Sentenced, Taken to Prison

Pistorius, convicted of culpable homicide in shooting death of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, will likely serve about 10 months of five-year sentence, before completing it under house arrest More

UN to Aid Central Africa in Polio Vaccinations

Synchronized vaccinations will be conducted after Cameroon reports a fifth case of the wild polio virus in its territory More

WHO: Ebola Vaccine Could Be in Use by January

WHO assistant director Dr. Marie Paule Kieny says clinical trials of Ebola vaccines are underway or planned in Europe, US and Africa More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid