View Full Version : Washington Braces Itself for Chinese Leader's Visit

24-04-06, 10:35
By Gary Feuerberg
Epoch Times Washington, D.C. Staff
Apr 23, 2006

(http://www.theepochtimes.com/news_images/highres/2006-4-23-kadeer-edit1.jpg)HUMAN RIGHTS SITUATION FOR UYGHURS NOT IMPROVING: Rabiye Kadeer, president of the Uyghur Human Rights and Democracy Foundation, testifies at a staff briefing on human rights situation in China at the Congressional Human Rights Caucus in Washington, D.C., on April 18. (Gary Feuerberg / The Epoch Times)

During the week of April 17-21, many press conferences, briefings, and forums took place in Washington, D.C. in anticipation of Chinese leader Hu Jintau's visit with President Bush on April 20. While the main focus by the news media and the Bush Administration was on trade, China's monetary policy, etc, some of these discussions focused on China's dismal human rights record.

Representative Chris Smith (R-NJ) introduced at a Congressional hearing (April 19), "This week's visit by Hu Jintao of China to the United States provides the U.S. Congress and people an opportunity to bring to the attention of U.S. policy makers and the world community the terrible human rights situation exists in China today."

The consensus among these China observers is that human rights have actually deteriorated since Hu took over the reigns of power. Making the situation especially disturbing are some new developments in the Chinese communist regime's use of surveillance, Western complicity in these methods, and more details of China's use of executed prisoners' and Falun Gong practitioners' organs for sale on the black market.

The aim of all these discussions around town was to advise and even plea for President Bush to tell the Chinese leader that we want to "press Beijing for serious, measurable and durable reform," to use the words of Rep. Smith. While the President talks often before Chinese officials about democracy and freedom, it was generally believed by those who participated in these discussions regarding Hu's visit, including the Congressional briefings, that the Chinese leadership doesn't believe the U.S. is truly serious about human rights and that business opportunities are taking precedent over human rights.

A Deteriorating Human Rights Record

The Congressional Human Rights Caucus (CHRC), Co-chaired by Congressmen Frank Wolf (R-VA) and Tom Lantos (D-CA), although only their staffs were present, held a staff briefing on the human rights situation in China on Tuesday, April 18. The tone was set by the invitation to the public and media:

"As in previous years, China's human rights situation remains abysmal... Necessary legal reforms have not been implemented to seriously bring an end to human rights violations, as tens of thousands of people continued to be detained or imprisoned in violation of their rights to freedom of expression and association, and were at serious risk of torture or ill-treatment. Thousands of people were also sentenced to death or executed, in often secret trials."

The "War on Terror" Used as a Pretext for Suppression and Strikes Against Minorities

Since 9/11 the Chinese Communist leadership has used the "war on terrorism" as an excuse to justify the severe repression of ethnic minorities, such as the Tibetans and the Uyghurs, as well as religious groups and spiritual movements, especially Falun Gong.

Rabiye Kadeer, president of the Uyghur Human Rights and Democracy Foundation, who spent 6 years in a Chinese prison, said, "After 9/11, the Chinese government coined the term "East Turkistan Terrorists" overnight to take advantage of the global war on terror. The peaceful independence activities that had been labeled 'separatist' and 'illegal religious' activities became terrorist activities…While they increased their suppression of this 'new terrorism' they have been working hard to legalize it internationally."

Kadeer testified that the Chinese Communist government even called for a war on terror to extend to education and culture, by a movement to burn books. "In Kashgar alone, more than 10,000 books were burned on May 24, 2003."

Kadeer express fear of retaliation by the Chinese communist regime, and spoke how her relatives and business friends are being harassed. She was especially worried about her son who was told by the Chinese authorities to get a lawyer, where "Chinese courts have a conviction rate of over 99%!" They intend to bring some charge like tax evasion against him because of his mother's activism. These threats by the Chinese Communists were noted by the chairman of the Caucus and said that the Caucus, and by implication the U.S. Congress, does not look favorably upon threats to its witnesses.

Promises Not Kept

Amnesty International called upon President Bush to remind Hu Jintao of his commitment to initiate human rights reform prior to the Olympics.

During their 2001 Olympic bid, Liu Qi, who was mayor of Beijing and is currently Beijing Chinese Communist party Secretary, promised that by hosting the games, there would be progress on human rights. Numerous other Chinese officials promised the same, including increased freedom of the press.

T Kumar, Amnesty International USA Advocacy Director for Asia and the Pacific, noted that "in spite of promises to improve human rights, China continues to account for upwards of 80% of all executions in the world," and on a large scale uses their organs for sale.

Forced Abortion and Sterilization Policy

"China also implements a ruthless coercive birth control policy, including forced abortion and sterilization, wrote the Caucus as an Intro for this briefing. Ms. Kadeer said that the Chinese government's so-called family planning policies in the Uyghur region constituted "ethnic cleansing." She said that many 8 and 9 month pregnancies are forcibly aborted.

In China, the one-child policy continues to be strictly enforced by means of peer pressure and the use of group punishments if one breaks the rule. "Workers in a given factory or department are denied bonuses, awards, …and other benefits if even one of their number has an unauthorized child. Women who get pregnant outside the plan are immediately ostracized by their fellow workers and put under tremendous pressure to abort," said Steven Mosher, who has studied China's one-child policy since 1979, and testified before the Congressional hearing on human rights in China.

Organ Harvesting Without Consent

Credible reports have also documented China's practice of "organ harvesting," or the removal of organs from terminally ill or death row prisoners for sale on the international market, without any consent. Rep. Chris Smith referred to the recent news of thousands of innocent Falun Gong prisoners targeted by China for organ harvesting and called for the U.S. State Department and the UN Special Rapporteur for Torture, Manfred Nowak, to investigate and "to do everything to stop this shameful practice."

China Bans All Media Independence

Lucy Morillon, Washington Director for Reporters Without Borders, testified regarding the severe crackdown on the media for the last three years. In 2003, a newspaper carried an article about a student who was tortured to death in a Guangdong police station. This newspaper also revealed a new case of the SARS epidemic without waiting for permission. The arrest and incarceration of the editor-in-chief and two other managers on false charges "reminded everyone in China that there is a line the media cannot cross."

"Everyday, Chinese editors receive a list of banned subjects from the propaganda department… These include demonstrations by peasants, the unemployed, and Tibetans—nothing escapes the censors, who have created a climate of fear within editorial offices."

When the army opened fire on villages last December, the press was banned, only official Xinhua news agency's reports could be found, foreign reporters were not welcome, and "every reference to the village was eliminated from the Internet." Television and radio are subjected to even greater control than the print media, according to Morillon. "The propaganda department imposed fines on Guangdong TV newscasters for exercising too much freedom. The Internet is seen by the Chinese authorities government as yet another tool to control its citizens. She sadly observed that China is getting increasingly efficient at blocking "objectionable" material, with the help of Western firms, such as Yahoo!, Google, Microsoft, Cisco Systems.