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Joint Letter: Civil Society Organisations Urge US President Biden to Prioritise Human Rights

Joint Letter: Civil Society Organisations Urge US President Biden to Prioritise Human Rights

Joseph R. Biden

President of the United States of America

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.

Washington, DC 20500

 

Re: Prioritize Human Rights When Speaking to Xi Jinping during the APEC Summit

Dear President Biden,

 On behalf of 59 organizations devoted to improving respect for human rights in China and communities the Chinese government impacts, we write to urge you to prioritize concerns about Beijing’s lack of concrete human rights improvements in your discussions with Chinese leader Xi Jinping during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in San Francisco.

We welcome your administration’s earlier statements that the US government will hold the Chinese government “accountable for its abuses of the international system,” and the promise that the US will impose consequences on the Chinese government for its ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity in the Uyghur region.

The Chinese government is punishing human rights defenders and rights lawyers with increasing cruelty. Most independent civil society groups have been disbanded and their members jailed, tortured, or forced to continue their work underground. Numerous UN bodies have similarly raised serious concerns about arbitrary detention, forced labor, cultural and language rights, and sexual and gender-based violence. 

Over the past year, your administration and multiple UN human rights bodies have raised alarm at the escalation of human rights abuses in Tibet, including the residential boarding school system that has seen at least one million Tibetan children separated from their families and communities. 

In East Turkistan (which the Chinese government refers to as the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region), the government continues to subject Uyghurs and other Turkic groups to widespread, systematic persecution on the basis of their ethnic and religious identity.

In Hong Kong, the promulgation of the National Security Law (NSL) by Beijing in 2020 has led to the dismantling of civil society and people’s fundamental rights and freedoms, and the targeting of academics, media outlets, and NGOs, affecting millions of Hong Kongers. 

The Chinese government has used its power and influence to attempt to silence the voice of civil society outside China’s borders, and has taken steps to actively undermine internationally recognized human rights norms. The government’s persecution of Falun Gong practitioners remains unrelenting. 

We therefore urge that you to deliver the following clear and strong messages to Xi Jinping:

– Demonstrate that human rights are a priority in the bilateral relationship by telling Xi that the US will pursue investigations into crimes against humanity and genocide in China, and the government’s transnational repression in the US and elsewhere. Ask him to release wrongfully detained individuals, including Gao Zhisheng, Peng Lifa, Yu Wensheng, Xu Yan, Huang Xueqin, Wang Jianbing, Xu Zhiyong, Ding Jiaxi, Jimmy Lai, Hang Tung Chow, Gwyneth Ho, Joshua Wong, Owen Chow, Gulshan Abas, Ekpar Asat, Rahile Dawut, the Panchen Lama (Gedhun Choekyi Nyima), Lhundrup Drakpa, Go Sherab Gyatso, and many others.

– Inform Xi that Beijing and Hong Kong authorities’ incessant violation of human rights in that territory will further harm ties and urge him to revoke the NSL.

– Tell Xi that your administration will continue to address the ongoing crimes against humanity in the Uyghur region until the Chinese government ceases its rights violations. Urge Xi to fully implement the recommendations in the August 2022 report on the region by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR.)

– Urge Xi to implement the recommendations of UN experts and treaty bodies with respect to Tibet, including immediately abolishing the coercive boarding school system imposed on Tibetan children.

– Tell Xi that your administration will continue to provide strong and steadfast support to human rights defenders and civil society activists across China and throughout the world. More broadly in your China policy, prioritize building strong ties to and among activists, independent writers, journalists, scholars, lawyers, and leaders of persecuted ethnic and religious minorities, and commit to assisting them when they are targeted for their activism. 

Xi Jinping and his government are assaulting human rights on a scale unprecedented in decades. President Biden, you have a unique opportunity to send strong messages to Xi Jinping about your position on human rights, which will likely have an impact in halting – and possibly reversing – this crisis. 

 

Sincerely,

  1. Adas Israel Congregation Uyghur Crisis Response Team
  2. Arizona for Hong Kong (AZ4HK)
  3. Article 19
  4. Asian Lawyers Network (ALN)
  5. Bay Area Friends of Tibet (BAFoTTibet)
  6. Bitter Winter: A Magazine on Religious Liberty and Human Rights 
  7. Boston Uyghur Association
  8. Campaign For Uyghurs
  9. China Action
  10. China Against the Death Penalty (CADP)
  11. China Aid Association
  12. Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD) 
  13. Christian Coalition 4 Uyghur Freedom
  14. Citizen Power Initiatives for China
  15. Coordination des Associations et des Particuliers pour la Liberté de Conscience
  16. Crane Center for Mass Atrocity Prevention 
  17. End the Uyghur Genocide 
  18. Filipino American Human Rights Alliance
  19. Freiheit für Hongkong e.V.
  20. Friends of Falun Gong: Supporting Falun Gong Practitioners’ Freedom of Belief 
  21. Frontlines Of Freedom
  22. Hong Kong Affairs Association of Berkeley (HKAAB)
  23. Hong Kong Democracy Council (HKDC)
  24. Hong Kong Forum, Los Angeles
  25. Hong Kong District Councillor Diaspora Network (HKDCDN)
  26. Hong Kong Watch
  27. Hong Kong Social Action Movements in Boston
  28. Hong Kongers in San Francisco Bay Area
  29. Hong Kongers in San Diego 
  30. Human Rights in China (HRIC)
  31. Humanitarian China
  32. Institute for China’s Democratic Transition (IFCDT)
  33. International Campaign for Tibet
  34. International Coalition to End Transplant Abuse in China (ETAC) 
  35. International Tibet Network
  36. Jewish Movement for Uyghur Freedom (JMUF)
  37. Lady Liberty Hong Kong
  38. Lamp of Liberty
  39. Minaret Foundation
  40. No Business With Genocide
  41. New Yorkers Supporting Hong Kong (NY4HK) 
  42. Northern California Hong Kong Club
  43. Peace Catalyst International
  44. PEN America
  45. PEN International
  46. Save the Persecuted Christians
  47. Scottish Hongkongers
  48. SEArious For HKG
  49. Silk Road Peace Project
  50. Students for a Free Tibet International (SFT) 
  51. Texans Supporting Hong Kong (TX4HK)
  52. The Hong Kong Scots
  53. Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD)
  54. Torontonian HongKongers Action Group 
  55. US HongKongers Club
  56. Uyghur American Association 
  57. Uyghur Human Rights Project (UHRP)
  58. Uyghur Rights Advocacy Project
  59. World Uyghur Congress