News / Asia

US Lawmakers, Activists Press China to Improve Human Rights

Protesters outside the White House during Chinese President Hu Jintao's visit, Jan 19 2011
Protesters outside the White House during Chinese President Hu Jintao's visit, Jan 19 2011

U.S. lawmakers and activists called on China Wednesday to dramatically improve its human rights record as Chinese President Hu Jintao had his first state visit with President Barack Obama.

Protesters rallied outside the White House Wednesday as President Obama met with Chinese leader Hu Jintao and prepared to treat him to China's first state dinner in more than a decade.

Some cried for more rights for minority groups such as Tibetans and China's Muslim Uighurs and freedom of religion, others denounced the country's human rights record and enforcement of its one child policy through the practice of forced abortions.

Tenzin Dolkar of the group Students for a Free Tibet says the abuses that China commits against its own  people show that it remains a repressive and authoritative state.

She says China's oppression of the Tibetan people in the wake of the 2008 protests continues.

"China has launched a full scale attack against Tibetan writers, intellectuals, musicians and even artists and even just regular Tibetan people who dare to challenge China's failed policy inside Tibet, so the situation has just been suffering, said Dolkar.

Elnigar Iltebir, is with the group Uighur Americans in the United States.

"If China wants to be a strong international power it cannot continue oppressing its own people, said Iltebir.

On Capitol Hill, lawmakers, activists and experts raised questions about China's behavior in a wide range of areas from security to trade and human rights.

China's behavior in international affairs and at home is also raising concerns.

Chairwoman of the House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs, Florida Republican Ileana Ros-Lehtinen:

"Would a responsible stakeholder refer to the Nobel committee as a bunch of clowns for awarding an honor to a distinguished Chinese human rights advocate? Would a responsible stakeholder arrest the wife of a Nobel Peace prize winner as further retaliation for speaking the truth about the gross human rights violations in China, asked Ros-Lehtinen.

Liu Xiaobo was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in December. He is currently serving an 11-year prison sentence for his advocacy of human rights and democracy in China. His wife has been detained since shortly after Liu was awarded the prize in October and her whereabouts remain unknown.

Dana Rohrabacher, a Republican Congressman from the state of California voiced his strong opposition to treating China to a state dinner. He thanked the committee for holding the hearing just as President Obama was meeting with Mr. Hu.

"We have to understand that as we speak our country is officially welcoming President Hu as if he had the same stature and acceptability here as a democratic leader, said Rohrabacher. “We welcome him the same as we do countries that are democratic that respect human rights. This is wrong!"

The exact number of individuals in China who are being held as prisoners of conscience is unknown.  

Former Tiananmen activist Yang Jianli, says that what is clear is that Chinese officials at the local and central level continue to use direct violence, house arrest and disappearances to silence dissent.

"I also urge you to pay attention to the disappearance of Chinese citizens as a result of the government's unwarranted actions,” said Yang Jianli. “The most notorious case is Gao Zhisheng. He has not been heard from ever since last April. After being repeatedly detained and severely tortured."

Geng He, the wife of Gao Zhisheng a human rights lawyer, attended the hearing Wednesday and spoke out about her husband at a separate press conference.

"So many times, we've had sleepless nights as we worry about his safety,” she said. “So many times, when we think about the torture that he is going through our hearts break. So many times, we have wept as we wonder where he is."

Geng He added her voice to a growing chorus of others who are calling on the U.S. to press China to improve human rights and urged President Obama to help her children get their father back.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants 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.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs