For Immediate Release
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In Expert Testimony, Amnesty International's T. Kumar Urged Active US Role in UN Review of Human Rights in China
Organization Calls on President Obama Not to Follow Previous Administration's "Half-Hearted Approach" to Human Rights Concerns in China
WASHINGTON - In his testimony before a commission of the U.S. Congress today, Amnesty International USA's advocacy director for Asia and the Pacific T. Kumar urged a strong, active U.S. role in evaluating China under a periodic review conducted by the U.N. Human Rights Council.
T. Kumar called on President Obama to take the following steps to promote human rights in China and elsewhere:
*Prioritize human rights in all U.S. government dealings with the Chinese government;
*Urge Chinese authorities to abolish the "Re-Education through Labor" system, under which approximately 250,000 to 500,000 people are imprisoned without charge or trial;
* Announce the United States' intention to run for the U.N. Human Rights Council seat, and;
* Increase the U.S. presence at the U.N. Human Rights Council by appointing a full-time, Geneva-based ambassador for human rights.
Said Kumar in his testimony before the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, a body of the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee:
"Amnesty International would like to express its appreciation to President Obama for the positive steps he has taken to stop torture and close Guantanamo. We urge him to take similar steps in dealing with the Chinese authorities and set the tone from the outset that human rights must be respected.
"The Chinese government has already taken steps to show President Obama its intransigence. China has censored portions of President Obama's inauguration speech for its populace. We urge President Obama to immediately condemn this action and send a strong message to the Chinese authorities that human rights are a priority for this administration.
"Failure to do so would embolden the Chinese authorities to continue their abusive practices. We also urge the Obama administration not to follow the Bush administration's half-hearted approach to China's human rights."
The U.N. Universal Periodic Review discussed before the commission today is a unique system adopted to monitor human rights in all the U.N. member states every four years. Countries including China will be evaluated this year.
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