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Human Rights must be a Top Priority on Hu Jintao's Visit

Jan 18, 2011
New York


Southern Mongolians demonstrated in front of the White House to urge China to free all Mongolian political prisoners. (01/19/2011, SMRHIC photo)


President Hu Jintao's state visit this week is the right time for the United States to make clear its expectations - that China must live up to her own constitutional guarantees,  and accept international conventions to which she herself has been a signatory. China should do more than pay lip service to these formal commitments, and the US must make clear to President Hu that China must move towards a free and open society that respects the rule of law. We urge President Obama to speak frankly to President Hu about this important question, and to recognize the widespread international criticism of China’s human rights record, particularly regarding the treatment of the Mongols, the Tibetans and the Uyghurs.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) has documented the Chinese failure to meet key tenets of the National Human Rights Action Plan for 2009 and 2010. Chinese authorities continue to suppress the rights of Mongolians to maintain their own culture, live according to their nomadic traditions and educate in their own language. Chinese economic interests further industrialize the grasslands of Southern Mongolia, eliminating nomadic communities, upsetting the balance of nature and disregarding the rights of the indigenous people. The well known dissident Hada completed his 15 year sentence in December only to be placed under arrest, along with his entire family. More than a month later, nothing is known about their whereabouts, despite their serious medical conditions. Other family members have been harassed, and dissidents remain under house arrest.  The case of Hada and others show the extent to which arbitrary detention, torture and judicial malfeasance are malignancies in Chinese society. There is no freedom of speech or expression for the Mongols of China, and each passing year brings additional restrictions on their right to live according to their cultural traditions.

The Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. believed that an injustice anywhere against anyone is an injustice against everyone everywhere. We urge President Obama to remind President Hu of this basic truth, and to urge China to commit to allow a fair and open hearing of the legitimate grievances of minority peoples. This is consistent with American values, and such an act of leadership by President Obama will sow the seeds of future democratic values in the largest nation of the world, a country whose sole interest at present seems to be economic growth at any cost.

Southern Mongolian Human Rights Center (



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