In a letter released today, nine leading human rights groups urged President Obama to take up the Chinese government’s crackdown on civil society as an obstacle to bilateral relations on his upcoming visit to China. Obama will meet with President Xi Jinping in Beijing on November 12, 2014.
The letter urges Obama to publicly call for the releases of 2010 Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo and his wife Liu Xia; Uighur economist and advocate of interethnic dialogue Ilham Tohti (left); human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng, who is not free despite having been released from prison; and Tenzin Delek Rinpoche, a Tibetan Buddhist leader whose health is reportedly deteriorating after a decade in prison.
“President Obama has recently called for the release of Ilham Tohti and Liu Xiaobo, and has spoken about the importance of civil society globally – but he has yet to do so in Beijing,” said Sophie Richardson, China director at Human Rights Watch. “As conditions for rights defenders in China continue to deteriorate, we urge him to deliver those messages forcefully and publicly in Beijing.”
The nine organizations include Amnesty International, Freedom House, Freedom Now, Human Rights First, Human Rights in China, Human Rights Watch, the International Campaign for Tibet, Project 2049, and the Uyghur American Association.