For Immediate Release
China: Obama must press China to uphold human rights
LONDON - President Obama must use his first official visit to China to urge
the authorities to reverse the sharp rise in human rights violations in
the country, Amnesty International has said.
The organisation reminded President Obama in an open letter that he
has a responsibility to publicly push for an improvement in China’s
poor human rights record during his scheduled visit to China next week.
Thousands of Chinese activists and human rights lawyers continue to
face arbitrary detention, harassment and imprisonment following unfair
trials while the authorities continue to execute more people than the
rest of the world combined.
“The Chinese government has stepped up efforts to silence any
internal criticism or challenge, despite the country’s massive economic
growth. President Obama must take this opportunity to show that the US
views human rights as a central plank of its relationship with China,”
said Sam Zarifi,Amnesty International’s Asia Pacific Director.
Amnesty International continues to monitor the cases of many
individuals who are being held in administrative detention, including
the “re-education through labour” detention system, where detainees can
be locked up for up to four years without trial.
Torture by law enforcement personnel is endemic, resulting in many prisoners’ deaths while in custody.
Human rights lawyers are harassed, intimidated, assaulted, abducted,
forcibly disappeared, placed under surveillance and house arrest and
faced criminal charges for protecting the rights of others.
In the first half of 2009 alone, Amnesty International documented
the cases of at least four human rights lawyers who were threatened
with violence; at least 10 who were prevented from meeting with or
representing their clients in courts, and at least five who were
briefly detained, one for one month, because of their human rights
The announcement this week that authorities had executed eight
Uighurs and one Han Chinese for their alleged role in the July riots
are further proof of the urgent need for the US administration to push
China for an independent, impartial, and transparent investigation of
the events surrounding the July riots.
Uighurs and other ethnic minority and religious groups such as
Tibetans and Falun Gong practitioners continue to be ill treated and
face persecution for their beliefs.
“Despite China adopting a human rights action plan after hosting the
Olympic Games last year its government needs to show the world that it
is serious about meetings its obligations under international human
rights law,” said Sam Zarifi.
Amnesty International calls on China to show its commitment to human rights by immediately meeting the following benchmarks:
• Abolition of the “Re-Education through Labour” detention system.
There is a strong domestic call in China for the reform of the system.
In the run-up to the Beijing Olympics, an open letter calling for its
abolition solicited 15,000 signatures.
• A public and independent investigation of the 1989 Tiananmen Square
crackdown against pro-democracy demonstrators. Human rights defenders
and activists face police harassment and surveillance when they press
the authorities to take responsibility for the crackdown in 1989.
• A lifting of all restrictions and obstacles to freedom of worship. Thousands are detained for their religious activities.
• Cessation of the repression of Tibetans and Uighurs and respect for
their ethnic, cultural and religious identity. Tibetans and Uighurs has
been the target of systematic and extensive human rights violations.
These include arbitrary detention, torture, severe restrictions on
freedom of religion and employment discrimination.
It also calls on President Obama to urge China to:
• Release Shi Tao, a journalist who was sentenced to ten years
imprisonment on charges of “illegally providing state secrets to
foreign entities” due to an email he sent to a US-based website. Court
records show that one of the evidence was Shi Tao’s account holder
information provided to the police by Internet company Yahoo! Inc.
• Release immediately and unconditionally those detained solely for
engaging in peaceful protest, including support for the Dalai Lama, the
independence of Tibet, or greater autonomy for Tibet.
• Release prisoner of conscience Ablikim Abdiriyim, son of Uighur
activist Reibya Kadeer. He is serving a nine-year sentence in the
Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region (XUAR) on charges of “instigating and
engaging in secessionist activities.” There are serious concerns that
he may have confessed under torture. Ablikim Abdiriyim was detained
with his siblings and several family members in May 2006. Their
detention prevented them from meeting with a United States
Congressional delegation on a scheduled visit. His brother Alim
Abdiriyim is also in prison on charges of tax evasion, which may be
• Ensure lawyers’ rights to carry out their legal work without
harassment, intimidation, violence or fear of criminal prosecution.
Amnesty International is a worldwide movement of people who campaign for internationally recognized human rights for all. Our supporters are outraged by human rights abuses but inspired by hope for a better world - so we work to improve human rights through campaigning and international solidarity. We have more than 2.2 million members and subscribers in more than 150 countries and regions and we coordinate this support to act for justice on a wide range of issues.