Apr 28, 2011

East Turkestan: Halting the Wave of Persecution

Uyghur American Association urged the US delegation to question Chinese authorities on constant human rights abuses against the Uyghur people and to press them to stop the discrimination.

Below is an article published by Channel News Asia

US and Chinese officials were set to meet in Beijing on Wednesday [27 April 2011] for human rights talks against the tense backdrop of a severe crackdown by China's ruling Communist Party on government critics.

Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights and Labour Michael Posner is heading an inter-agency US delegation for the two-day US-China Human Rights Dialogue.

In unusually direct language, the US State Department last week made clear it planned to zero in on China's ongoing clampdown and the "negative trend of forced disappearances, extralegal detentions, and arrests and convictions."

Chinese authorities launched their toughest campaign against dissent in years after anonymous online appeals emerged in February calling for weekly protests to emulate those that have rocked the Arab world.

Scores of Chinese activists and rights lawyers have been rounded up in the past few months since the emergence of the "Jasmine" campaign, which has not resulted in any reports of demonstrations.

Chinese foreign ministry official Chen Xu will head his country's delegation to the dialogue, which is held intermittently, depending on the state of bilateral relations.

It is unclear why Beijing agreed to go ahead with the talks at such a sensitive time. They were held last year, in 2008, and in 2002.

The State Department said the US delegation would also bring up issues such as "rule of law, freedom of religion, freedom of expression, labour rights, minority rights and other human rights issues of concern."

On the religious front, China has drawn fire for detaining scores of members of an unregistered Protestant church in Beijing and for a security crackdown on a Tibetan monastery in the southwestern province of Sichuan.

China faces seething dissent among its ethnic Tibetans, as well as its Muslim Uighur minority in the northwestern region of Xinjiang. Beijing has tightened security across both regions following violent unrest in Tibetan areas in 2008 and in Xinjiang in 2009.

The Washington-based Uyghur American Association urged the US delegation to press China to halt what it called a wave of persecution in Xinjiang following the 2009 unrest, which set Uighurs against members of China's dominant Han ethnic group.

The US must "seek answers from the Chinese government on egregious human rights abuses against the Uyghur people," the association quoted exiled Uighur activist Rebiya Kadeer as saying.

Visiting Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard said she raised a range of human rights concerns in talks Tuesday with Premier Wen Jiabao. She said Wen denied China had taken a "backward step" on rights.

The sensitive dialogue will be held behind closed doors but Posner was scheduled to brief the media on Thursday.