(New York, February 12, 2009) - US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton should make human rights a prominent topic of discussion in her visit to Beijing next week, seven prominent organizations said today in a letter to Clinton.
Amnesty International USA, Freedom House, Human Rights First, Human Rights in China, Human Rights Watch, the International Campaign for Tibet, and Reporters Without Borders urged Secretary Clinton to speak publicly about Tibet and Xinjiang, torture in police custody, domestic press censorship, extrajudicial detention, and abuses of human rights defenders.
The letter notes that, "the US's agenda with China is a broad one, but we believe that the desired economic, security, and diplomatic progress can be reinforced through more vigorous and public defense of human rights." It also recalls the secretary's own past comments on human rights in China, in which she stressed: "not taking citizens away from their loved ones and jailing them, mistreating them, or denying them their freedom or dignity because of the peaceful expression of their ideas and opinions."
"If Secretary Clinton remains silent on these issues - as the US did earlier this week during China's review at the Human Rights Council in Geneva - the Chinese government is likely to get the wrong message," said Sophie Richardson, Asia advocacy director at Human Rights Watch. "We ask the secretary to stress human rights, the rule of law, and protections for civil society as a centerpiece of US policy going forward."