Gretchen Birkle is U.S. Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor. In recent testimony before the U.S. Congress, she said that the Chinese government’s repression of citizens seeking to exercise their fundamental rights remains a systemic problem.
Ms. Birkle said the Chinese authorities have committed numerous and serious human rights abuses, including torture, mistreatment of prisoners, detention without notification and communication, and denial of due process of law. Freedom of assembly and association is severely restricted, and repression of unregistered religious groups has increased. Internationally recognized worker rights are denied to Chinese workers. Forced labor in prisons remains widespread. And violence against women is a serious problem, including forced abortion and sterilization resulting from a Chinese government-imposed coercive birth control policy.
Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Birkle pointed out that the Chinese government at times appears to use the global war on terror as a pretext to crack down on Uighur Muslims in northwestern China who seek to practice their faith and express dissent peacefully. The level of repression in Tibet remains high, especially of activities perceived by the Chinese government to be advocating Tibetan independence. The practitioners of Falun Gong, a spiritual movement banned in China since 1999, have been targeted for harsh crackdowns and imprisonment.
Many Chinese citizens who openly express dissent are harassed, detained, or imprisoned. Ms. Birkle said the Chinese leadership launched a campaign in late 2004 that targeted writers, religious activists, political dissidents, and petitioners to the Chinese central government. Chinese authorities have meted out especially harsh punishment to those who sought to publish information or express their political views in the media or on the internet.
Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Birkle said that the U. S. believe that international pressure can encourage China to take steps to bring its human rights practices into compliance with international standards, and support those within China who see structural reform to be in China’s best interest.
The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.