Amnesty USA Urges Secretary Kerry Not to Compromise Human Rights During U.S. - China Security & Economic Dialogue

Press Release
July 8, 2014

Amnesty USA Urges Secretary Kerry Not to Compromise Human Rights During U.S. - China Security & Economic Dialogue

Organization Urging Secretary Kerry to Visit a Uighur Mosque

Contact: Natalie Butz, nbutz@aiusa.org, 202-675-8761, @AIUSAmedia

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) - Amnesty International USA is urging U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to ensure the human rights situation in China is addressed in a meaningful way during the sixth annual meeting of the U.S. - China Strategic and Economic Dialogue (S&ED) in Beijing to be held July 9 - 10.

Human Rights should be treated as an essential part of the dialogue, like economic and security issues, and should not be compromised to advance other goals.

While Secretary Kerry is in China, local authorities in the country have reportedly banned Muslim Uighur students and government employees from fasting during the month of Ramadan. Secretary Kerry should raise this restriction directly with the Chinese authorities and visit a Uighur Mosque during this visit. Failing to act will send a wrong message to Chinese leadership that U.S. authorities are not concerned about this restriction.

Amnesty International USA will be hosting Ms. Rebiya Kadeer, a Uighur and former Prisoner of Conscience, at its offices in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, July 9, to discuss the Chinese authorities' restrictions on observing Iftar, a meal served at the end of the day during Ramadan, to break the day's fast.

Chinese authorities continue to use unlawful, arbitrary and violent methods to intimidate and persecute individuals for the peaceful exercise of their rights, including the rights to freedom of thought, conscience and religion and freedom of expression, association and assembly. Several Tibetans have been sentenced to prison terms for communicating information overseas about self-immolations of Tibetans.

China continues to pursue a systematic, nationwide, often violent campaign to eradicate the Falun Gong spiritual movement, banned since 1999 as a "heretical" group.

Despite the abolition of the Re-education Through Labor system at the end of 2013, forced labor and other human rights violations continue in different forms of arbitrary detention in China.

Amnesty International USA also urged Secretary Kerry to raise the following issues:

  1. Liu Xia, a poet, artist and wife of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo, is serving an 11-year prison sentence. She has been under unlawful house arrest in Beijing since October 2010. She cannot leave her home and is not allowed visitors. Secretary Kerry should ask Chinese authorities to release her from detention and refrain from any harassment or curtailment of her rights.
  2. Chinese authorities detained, arrested, placed under house arrest and harassed dozens of activists in the weeks leading up to the 25th anniversary on of the June 4, 1989 crackdown. Human rights lawyer Pu Zhiqiang was formally arrested on June 13 for “picking quarrels” and “illegally obtaining personal information” because he attended a seminar in a private home in Beijing at which the crackdown was discussed. Secretary Kerry should press for Pu’s immediate release and urge the Chinese government to cease harassment and prosecution of those commemorating or speaking out about the 1989 Tiananmen protests.
  3. The mainly Muslim ethnic minority of Uighurs have been the target of systematic and extensive human rights violations, including arbitrary detention and imprisonment, incommunicado detention, and serious restriction of religious freedom as well as cultural and social rights. Ilham Tohti, economics professor at Minzu University, is in detention for expressing his views on human rights on his website, Uighur Online, and is being denied food that conforms to Islamic dietary restrictions. Secretary Kerry should seek his immediate and unconditional release. Amnesty International has adopted him as a prisoner of conscience.

Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 3 million members in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.