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

Video VOA EXCLUSIVE: Iraq President Vows to Fight IS 'Until They Are Killed or We Die'

In wide-ranging interview with VOA Persian service reporter, Fuad Masum describes conflict as new type of fight that will take time to win More

Video Russian Anti-Corruption Campaigner Slams Putin’s Crackdown on Dissent

In interview with VOA Alexei Navalny says he believes new law against 'undesirable NGOs' part of move to keep Russian president in power More

Video On The Scene: In Ethiopia, 'Are You a Journalist?' Is a Loaded Question

VOA's Anita Powell describes the difficulties faced by reporters in fully conveying the story in a country where people are reticent to share their true opinions 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.
Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardshipi
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
May 28, 2015 6:48 PM
Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Floodwaters Recede in Houston, but Rain Continues

Many parts of Texas are recovering from one of the worst natural disasters to hit the southwestern state. Heavy rains on Monday and early Tuesday caused rivers to swell in eastern and central Texas, washing away homes and killing at least 13 people. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, floodwaters are receding slowly in the country's fourth-largest city, and there likely is to be more rain in the coming days.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.

VOA Blogs