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US slams China's human rights record to UN council

Urges government to dialogue with Dalai Lama
US slams China's human rights record to UN council

The United States and other countries slammed China's human rights record, as Washington urged Beijing to engage in dialogue with the Dalai Lama. (Photo by AFP)

Published: March 11, 2016 08:37 AM GMT
Updated: March 11, 2016 08:38 AM GMT

The United States has led unprecedented condemnation of China at the Human Rights Council, angering Beijing, as U.S. lawmakers separately urged the Chinese government to enter dialogue with the Dalai Lama.

In a statement by the United States, Japan, Australia, Germany, the United Kingdom and seven other European states, the U.S. ambassador to the UN rights body noted China's "deteriorating human rights record," listing forced confessions and mass detentions among major concerns.

"In many cases, these individuals have not been granted access to legal counsel or allowed visits by family members," Keith M. Harper said in the group statement read out in Geneva on March 10. "These actions are in contravention of China's own laws and international commitments."

At the end of last month, Christian lawyer Zhang Kai became the latest of a series of rights advocates to be paraded on television "confessing" to crimes against the state. He has remained in detention for more than six months after providing legal aid to churches in Zhejiang province trying to rebuff a cross-removal campaign by authorities.

Zhang is one of 250 lawyers detained in China since July last year.

The U.N. rights council statement marked the first time countries have come together to single out China's poor rights record since the council was established a decade ago, and came after similarly withering criticism by U.N. rights chief Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein.

"In recent weeks, I have made known my concerns over China's arrests of lawyers and other activists," said Zeid, referencing similar criticism of China he made last month. "In the past, I have also raised concerns about human rights in the Autonomous Regions of Tibet and Xinjiang, and these concerns remain."

In an angry response, Chinese diplomat Fu Cong accused Zeid of "making subjective comments not backed up by real facts," and attacked the United States on its own rights record.

"The United States conducts large-scale extraterritorial eavesdropping, uses drones to attack other countries' innocent civilians, its troops on foreign soil commit rape and murder local people. It conducts kidnapping overseas and uses black prisons," said Fu in an unusually strong rebuke.

Criticism of China in Geneva came the same day as Democrat Party leader Nancy Pelosi and Rep. James McGovern published a joint call urging Beijing to enter dialogue with Tibet's spiritual leader the Dalai Lama in another U.S. move likely to anger China's Communist rulers.

Marking the anniversary of the largest uprising against Chinese rule in Tibet in 1959, the joint statement published in USA Today newspaper again highlighted "mounting Chinese human rights violations."

Pelosi and McGovern became the first lawmakers to visit Tibet in eight years following the latest uprising in 2008 when they went to the Himalayan region in November.

With the Dalai Lama due to take part in a Nobel laureates meeting on the sidelines of Human Rights Council sessions in Geneva later on March 11, the Chinese embassy issued a letter to foreign missions urging them not to attend in the latest sign Beijing has no plans for dialogue.

"China resolutely opposes the 14th Dalai Lama's separatist activities in whatever capacity and in whatever name in any country, organization or event," the letter said.

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