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HRIC Bulletin

July 28, 2000


DELEGATION TO UNITED NATIONS



Human Rights in China sent a delegation to Geneva to attend the annual session of the Commission on Human Rights in March. HRIC went to lobby for the passage of a resolution urging China to improve its human rights practices. Although the United States sponsored the resolution, other countries did not give their endorsement to the measure. In the end, the Commission failed even to debate the China resolution, as China introduced a no action motion to prevent discussion. The no action motion, which pre-empted voting on the resolution itself, was supported by 22 states, while 18 states voted against it, 12 abstained and one was absent. However, HRIC’s efforts were successful in drawing international media attention to the current human rights situation within China.





SHADOW REPORT ON TORTURE



In May, the United Nations held hearings on a report submitted by China on implementation of the Convention Against Torture (CAT). In response to the government report, HRIC issued a shadow report, “Impunity for Torturers Continues Despite Changes in the Law,” which showed that China has failed in its obligations under the Convention by refusing to address the legal and institutional problems that are the root causes of torture. HRIC also sent a delegation to Geneva to meet with various members of the the UN Committee which monitors the treaty and with the media. Many of HRIC’s suggestions and observations were reflected in the recommendations made to the Chinese government by the Committee Against Torture.





TIANANMEN MOTHERS CAMPAIGN



HRIC launched a major campaign to support the victims of the 1989 massacre and their families. The campaign is aimed at publicizing and supporting the work of Ding Zilin and other mothers who lost their children during the 1989 crackdown, and who have mobilized to seek truth and justice from the Chinese government. It entails a variety of activities to raise public awareness of the mothers’ struggle, and to increase pressure on the Chinese government for full accountability for the atrocities committed in 1989.



On June 4, 2000, a Web site was launched on the initiative of HRIC to promote this campaign and gather signatures on a petition supporting the Tiananmen Mothers’ campaign against impunity. At www.FillTheSquare.org, netizens can place a bouquet commemorating victims of the massacre at a virtual Tiananmen Square. This site is bilingual and has received strong global support in its initial phase of existence. Over 2,000 individuals signed in support in just the first few weeks.



In late May, HRIC published a Chinese-language book entitled The Living and the Dead which honors those who died or who have been persecuted as a result of the June Fourth Massacre. The book is a collection of writings by Ding Zilin, the primary organizer of the Tiananmen Mothers network, and her husband, Jiang Peikun. It includes essays, letters, interviews and other writings, and documents the development of the families’ struggle for accountability.





RECEPTIONS



On May 23, HRIC hosted an event at the Century Club in New York which featured a presentation by Lu Wenhe, who was recently prevented by Chinese authorities from distributing humanitarian aid to the families of June Fourth Massacre victims, and by Song Yongyi, who was recently imprisoned in China for his academic research on the Cultural Revolution. The event was well attended and introduced HRIC to new supporters.



At a separate luncheon event in May, Lois Snow described her experiences during her April trip to Beijing, when she was prevented from visiting Ding Zilin.





CONFERENCE



HRIC President Liu Qing attended a conference in Copenhagen in May entitled “Discrimination and Toleration,” sponsored by the Danish Centre for Human Rights. Two hundred human rights activists and scholars attended, including the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson. At the conference, Liu Qing presented a paper on the current human rights situation in China.





INPUT TO WORLD COMMISSION ON DAMS



In May, HRIC submitted two comments on papers written for the global review of dam building being undertaken by the World Commission on Dams (WCD). One (published in the last issue of China Rights Forum) was a critique of the WCD’s resettlement study, and the other addressed the body’s China country study. HRIC criticized both studies for relying too heavily on the World Bank’s claims that China is a model of resettlement for developing countries. Both these comments were widely circulated by e-mail and made available on HRIC’s Web site.






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