Press Release by Congresswoman Pelosi

Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi

Bi-Partisan Foreign Policy Leadership Urges President Clinton to Renew Fight for Human Rights in China

December 10, 1998

In observance of the 50th anniversary of the U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Democratic Leader Rep. Richard Gephardt (D-MO), International Relations Chair Rep. Benjamin Gilman (R-NY) and Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) and many of their colleagues today sent a letter to President Clinton urging him to make a renewed and vigorous effort to urge China to comply with its international human rights obligations. "Despite signing the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Chinese government marks this anniversary by cracking down on dissent," Pelosi said.

Rep. Pelosi, the ranking Democrat on the House Foreign Operations Appropriations subcommittee, is also urging the Administration to press the Chinese government to open the trials of recently arrested dissidents to the public, international observers, including diplomats and the foreign media. "Mr. Wang Youcai is scheduled to go on trial next week for subversion. Xu Wenli and Qin Yongmin have recently been detained and may also be put on trial. These brave individuals have been rounded up in a dragnet because they dared to register a new political party. The terms of the dissidents' detention, charges and possible trials raise more questions about the rule of law in China," Pelosi said.

A copy of the letter is attached. The letter was signed by the following Members of Congress:

Gephardt		Gilman		Wolf		Pelosi
Abercrombie		Andrews		Berman		Bonior
Brown, Sherrod		Cox		Davis, Danny	DeGette
DeLauro			Delahunt	Dixon		Doolittle
Duncan			Ehlers		Engel		Eshoo
Forbes			Fowler		Gejdenson	Goodling
Hall, Tony		Hinchey		Holden		Hooley
Horn			Hoyer		Hunter		Jackson, Jesse
King			Lantos		Levin		Lowey
Maloney, C.		Markey		McGovern	McKinney
McNulty			Menendez	Moakley		Myrick
Norton			Pitts		Porter		Rohrabacher
Scarborough		Schaffer, Bob	Slaughter	Smith, Chris
Taylor, Charles		Tierney		Vento		Watt


December 10, 1998

The Honorable William Jefferson Clinton
President of the United States
The White House
Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear Mr. President:

On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights, we are writing to urge you to make a renewed, vigorous effort to urge China to comply with its international human rights obligations.

Earlier this year, the Administration decided not to push for a resolution at the U.N. Human Rights Commission in Geneva and instead to focus on "engagement." During your visit to China, you called for the release of political and religious prisoners, including Tibetans, and also urged a review of the sentences of so-called "counter-revolutionary" offenders. But there has been no progress on these or other key human rights issues raised during the visit.

On October 5, China signed the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) -- though it has yet to ratify it -- pledging to respect basic freedoms including the rights of free association, free expression, free assembly and religion. This was a positive step. But in the weeks since the signing, the Chinese government has not honored its commitment. On October 25, the government issued new, strict regulations on the "registration and management of social groups," aimed at controlling NGOs. These repressive regulations will further curb the right of free association in the name of building the "rule of law."

In addition, Beijing has recently rounded up 140 house church leaders in Henan province and cracked down on unofficial religious groups; expelled foreign journalists; charged a computer executive, Lin Hai, with subversion for giving e-mail addresses to a pro-democracy group; and denied the U.N. High Commissioner on Human Rights access to the Panchen Lama, Gendun Choekyi Nyima, when she visited Tibet.

We are deeply concerned about the wave of detentions that began during your China trip as the authorities try to suppress an effort to organize a peaceful opposition group, the China Democratic Party. Several pro-democracy advocates have been detained, and though some have been released, veteran activists Wang Youcai, Xu Wenli, and Qin Yongmin are still being held and may be charged with subversion. Wang Youcai has already been formally arrested and will be put on trial December 17th.

We urge you to send Mr. Harold Koh, the new Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, to China soon to press for the immediate, unconditional release of all political, religious and labor activists and for other concrete human rights improvements. He should inform Chinese officials that the U.S. will press for reintroduction and adoption of a resolution on China at next spring's U.N. Commission meeting if the current pattern of abuses continues.

Fundamental principles of basic human rights are intrinsic to the values of our nation. We urge you on this, the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to exercise the full force of U.S. leadership in promoting human rights in China and around the world. Thank you for your consideration of this request.

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