Human Rights Groups Urge Obama to Pressure Beijing

Human Rights Groups Urge Obama to Pressure Beijing

A joint letter from nine organizations urges President Barack Obama to publicly emphasize human rights during his impending visit Beijing. The groups call specifically for the release of Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo and his wife Liu Xia, rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng, Uyghur scholar Ilham Tohti, and Tibetan Buddhist leader Tenzin Delek Rinpoche.

The deteriorating human rights environment and the extraordinary damage done to China’s civil society should be given greater prominence in the bilateral relationship generally and your upcoming trip in particular. We appreciate the U.S. government’s efforts to raise individual cases and discuss broader human rights issues with Chinese counterparts. While it may be tempting to conclude from Beijing’s increasing intransigence that such efforts are ineffective, we believe that by publicly raising the cases of particular activists during your visit to Beijing, you may afford them protection from ill-treatment or torture in detention, and increase the prospects of parole or humanitarian release. Even if these results are not achieved, your speaking about these activists now would bring them and their family members a degree of hope, and would serve as one of the only means of demanding accountability from Chinese authorities. [Source]

The letter is signed by representatives of Amnesty International, Freedom House, Freedom Now, Human Rights First, Human Rights in China, Human Rights Watch, the International Campaign for Tibet, Project 2049, and the Uyghur American Association. As China grows increasingly resistant to foreign criticism on human rights, many foreign leaders prefer to raise such issues in private, if at all.

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