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Obama administration slams China for ‘poor’ human rights record
Washington, Mar 12 (Agencies)
Published on 12 Mar. 2010 11:29 PM IST
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Slamming China for its “poor” human rights record, the Obama Administration has accused it of harassing activists and lawyers, repressing Tibetans and censoring e-mails. In China, the government’s human rights record “remains poor and is worsening” in some areas, including increased cultural and religious repression of ethnic minorities, Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights and Labour, Michael Posner, claimed. “In Xinjiang... (there has been) harassment of activists and public interest lawyers who are increasingly under surveillance and are being repressed. There’s continuing repression in the Tibetan areas, limits on free expression, and control of the Internet,” he said after release of the annual State Department Human Rights Report. Posner specifically highlighted two cases about China, which are also mentioned in the report. One is the case of Liu Xiaobo, who was found guilty in December of subverting state power and sentenced to 11 years in prison. “His crime is that he helped write a petition, called Charter 08, a petition calling for an expansion of human rights and democracy,” Posner said. The second case is of a human rights lawyer called Gao Zhisheng, who was picked up by police and is thought to be in detention though his family does not know where he is, he said. “In the last several years, more public interest, human rights, environmental lawyers have been taking cases. Law clinics and elsewhere are springing up. And there are also greater restrictions on NGOs,” Posner said. “We learnt today that there’s also a new press certification system in place which is going to give Chinese journalists training in Marxist news theories. So there is a sense that the space is actually closing for those, whether they’re journalists, lawyers, or NGO activists,” he said. The State Department report said the Chinese Government increased its efforts to monitor Internet use, control content, restrict information, block access to foreign and domestic websites, encourage self-censorship and punish those who violated regulations. Noting that the government employed thousands of persons at the national, provincial and local levels to monitor electronic communications, the report said in January it began an “anti-vulgarity” campaign that resulted same month in the closure of 1,250 websites and deletion of more than 3.2 million items of information. “The government at times blocked access to selected sites operated by major foreign news outlets, health organisations, foreign governments, educational institutions and social networking sites, as well as search engines, that allow rapid communication,” it said.

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