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William Stark
Appeal to Obama and Xi for 16 Chinese Prisoners
ICC Note:
As President Obama hosts President Xi Jinping of China for a bilateral, multi-issue summit between the two superpowers in California, human rights activists and religious freedom advocates have joined with Congressional leaders, a coalition of 30 prominent NGOs, and the families of prisoners of conscience to demand Obama condition expanded ties between the two nations (including U.S. advocacy of China’s inclusion in the Trans-Pacfic Partnership TPP) on the immediate and unconditional release of what has become known as the “China 16.” Comprised of a range of prisoners of conscience from human rights and pro-democracy activists to Protestant Pastor Yang Rongli, the “China 16” represent diverse minority groups in China that continue to be persecuted and denied full expression of their rights, as established by international law. These minority groups included the highly persecuted underground church movement, which continue to face police brutality, arbitrary detention, unlawful imprisonment, and torture at the hands of China’s ruling communist party.
06/08/2013 China (AsiaNews) – The relatives of a group of prisoners in China are asking President Barack Obama to press Xi Jinping to release 16 prisoners. They demand that human rights take priority in the dialogue between the two presidents.
Xi Jinping arrived yesterday evening in California where he will meet with Obama in a secluded ranch, away from the crowds, to speak “in his shirt sleeves,” in short, informally, of collaboration between China and the United States and build a relationship of trust between the two.
“This summit is not only about personal friendship building. It’s a summit between the presidents of two countries and they should have a purpose to build a more just society,” says Chen Guangcheng, a blind activist who fled last year to the United States after years of persecution by the regime. “Obama – he added – should stop the trade-centred diplomacy and instead make it a human rights-centred diplomacy.”
On the occasion of the coming of Xi Jinping’s visit to the U.S., the first as president of China, activists and human rights organizations have drawn up a list of 16 prisoners and launched a number of initiatives titled “China 16” to demand their release.
Among the 16 are Chen Guangcheng’s nephew, Chen Gekui, jailed and beaten by the authorities of Shandong for revenge against the escape of his uncle, the Christian lawyer Gao Zhisheng, disbarred and in solitary confinement for defending Christians, Uighurs and members of Falun Gong, the Nobel Prize for Peace Laureate Liu Xiaobo, who was sentenced to 11 years for writing the democracy document Charter 08: Peng Ming, a reformist abducted by Chinese police while he was in Thailand to prepare a place of refuge for dissidents fugitives.
The list also includes other dissidents (Guo Quan, Liu Xianbin, Wang Bingzhang, Yang Tianshui, Zhu Yufu and Li Chang), two Tibetans (the monks Tenzin Delek and Lobsang Tsering), two Uighurs (Gulmira Imin and Alimujiang Yimiti), the underground Protestant pastor Yang Rongli.

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