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HRIC Bulletin

April 28, 2001


UN COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS



As in previous years, HRIC sent a delegation to lobby at the annual session of the UN Commission on Human Rights. HRIC contributed material on the human rights situation in China to various written interventions presented to the Commission, and actively lobbied in support of the resolution on China’s human rights situation proposed by the United States. On April 2, 2000, Executive Director Xiao Qiang read a statement to the Commission on behalf of HRIC and the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Center. Xiao presented information that shows that China’s growing engagement with the international human rights regime has not led to genuine reform of its human rights practices. He also addressed a need for the members of this Commission to recognize China’s failure to uphold international human rights law and urged them to vote in favor of a resolution on China’s human rights situation. Unfortunately the China resolution was blocked by a no-action motion introduced by China, as in previous years.





PREPARATION FOR RACISM CONFERENCE


  • Chine Chan, program officer in HRIC’s Hong Kong office, participated in the Asia-Pacific NGO Networking Meeting, held on April 27-29, in Kathmandu to prepare for the UN World Conference Against Racism (WCAR), to be held in Durban, South Africa, at the end of August. At the networking meeting, over 180 Asia-Pacific NGOs adopted a statement requesting a proper review of the applications for accreditation to the conference from HRIC, the International Campaign for Tibet (ICT) and Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD). Applications for accreditation from the three organizations had been blocked by the Chinese government.



  • On May 22 in Geneva, despite a recommendation from the Conference Secretariat that HRIC be accredited, UN member states voted by a narrow margin (50 to 45, with 17 abstentions) to exclude HRIC from the WCAR, after heavy lobbying by the Chinese government. HRIC was not given the chance to rebut the government’s claims. Both ICT and TCHRD were accredited, after a close vote in their favor.



  • From June 15-17, HRIC Research Director Sophia Woodman participated in an Asian NGO consultation on the WCAR in Dharamsala, India. The meeting, which was hosted by the TCHRD, discussed detailed strategies for lobbying governments to ensure that they map out concrete action to combat racism and racial discrimination around the world, and set new international standards to contribute to this effort.




TIANANMEN MOTHERS CAMPAIGN


  • On May 8, on the occasion of the visit of President Jiang Zemin to Hong Kong, the Tiananmen Mothers Campaign organized a demonstration to support the continuing struggle for accountability for the June Fourth massacre. They wore campaign T-shirts and black head scarves, and carried lanterns and placards on which were written the demands of the Mothers, and others with photos of massacre victims and the words, “Still No Accountability.”



  • On June 3, the Tiananmen Mothers Campaign in Hong Kong participated in two cultural events, “Echo from Tiananmen 2001,” held in Chater Gardens and organized by the Asian People’s Theatre Festival Society; and “Dissidenza,” a concert of music, poetry and performance at the Hong Kong Space Museum. Both performances included readings from the Tiananmen Mothers testimonies, mime and live music.



  • At the annual candle-light vigil in Victoria Park, a taped message from Ding Zilin, one of the leading voices of the Tiananmen Mothers, was played to the assembled crowd of around 48,000. A representative of the campaign gave a five-minute presentation explaining why international solidarity is so important to the Mothers in their struggle for accountability. At this and the June 3 events, 500 campaign T-shirts were sold, and thousands of campaign postcards were distributed to participants.



  • On June 3, HRIC co-sponsored a candle-light vigil together with Beijing Spring and other local groups in front of the Chinese consulate in New York.




PERSONNEL CHANGES



HRIC welcomes new staff in both New York and Hong Kong offices. Sharon K. Hom joins our New York office as senior advisor in residence. Sharon is a professor at City University of New York Law School and has taken leave to work on HRIC’s institutional development and program work. Two new additions to the communications team in New York staff are Julia Kao, who takes up the post of communications officer; and Joseph Chaney, who also assists the Executive Director. Virginia Lai has joined the team in Hong Kong as administration and campaigns officer.



HRIC is very grateful for the assistance during this quarter of interns and volunteers: Kevin Qu, Charles Koppleman, Ren□ Roman, Sarah Varet and Ingveig Tsveranger.




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