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"We Tibetans are looking for a legitimate and meaningful autonomy, an arrangement that would enable Tibetans to live within the framework of the People’s Republic of China."

Pressure China on Human Rights Post-Olympics: Amnesty

May 30, 2008

AFP
May 28, 2008

LONDON (AFP) - The world needs to maintain pressure on China for
huuman rights reform after the Beijing Olympics, the head of Amnesty
International said, as the group published its annual report Wednesday.

Irene Khan said China's growing weight as a world power means it can
no longer ignore human rights both at home and abroad, after Western
criticism of its involvement in hotspots like Sudan, Zimbabwe,
Myanmar and North Korea.

Abuses, including the torture and ill-treatment of prisoners, use of
the death penalty, censorship, restrictions on assembly and
repression of minorities are still commonplace in China, the report said.

Severe restrictions remain on freedom of religion, freedom, and
association in Tibet while peaceful expressions of support for the
Tibetan spiritual and political leader the Dalai Lama were "harshly
punished", it added.

"I think it will be important to maintain the pressure on and
engagement with China post-Olympics. That will be a real challenge as
it slips off the (news) agenda," Khan said in an interview to mark
the report's publication.

Amnesty's secretary-general said the group had detected "some
improvement" in 2007 in Chinese civil society and on the death
penalty -- where there are moves to hold trials and appeals in public
-- and for access by foreign media.

Chinese moves to support African Union and United Nations
peacekeepers in Darfur and its help in Myanmar, after a military
crackdown on pro-democracy campaigners last year, were "glimmers of
hope", she added.

But she said Beijing still had a way to go and should realise that,
even on a business level, promoting stability in places like
Zimbabwe, North Korea, Myanmar and Darfur could be in their own interests.

"In the longer term, we hope China will begin to realise the value of
human rights," she added.

Amnesty gave a bleak assessment of the state of the world's human
rights in 2007, 60 years since the Universal Declaration of Human
Rights was signed.

Unrest in Pakistan, post-election violence in Kenya and a crackdown
against pro-democracy campaigners in Myanmar showed the West's
"impotence" and the "ambivalence or reluctance" of emerging powers to
tackle human rights head on.

"Injustice, inequality and impunity are the hallmarks of our world
today. Governments must act now to close the yawning gap between
promise and performance," Khan said in the report's foreword.

Pressing issues for 2008 were Darfur, Zimbabwe, Gaza, Iraq and
Myanmar, she added, calling on governments to recommit to the
founding principles of the UN treaty forged in the aftermath of
bitter conflict in World War II.

"The powerful must lead by example," she added.

The United States, where a new president will be elected this year,
should close the Guantanamo Bay camp for suspected Islamist
extremists, charge or release detainees and unequivocally reject
torture like "waterboarding".

The European Union came in for criticism for "complicity" with the
US-led rendition programme of "secret and unlawful detentions", while
Russia was attacked for being "increasingly intolerant of dissent or
criticism".

And emerging economic powers like India, Mexico, South Africa and
Brazil, need to become role models, it added.

Amnesty said the last 60 years had seen positive developments,
including the widespread abolition of the death penalty, the passing
of human rights legislation and war crimes prosecutions.

"People power", like the recent Myanmar protests, suggested a shift,
as did new alliances between the UN and regional blocs like the AU or
Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in addressing crises.

"2008 could be a watershed," Khan told AFP. "For the past few years
we have been going down a particular track -- 'the West and the rest'
-- which has been very damaging.

"That configuration is going, new bridges are being built, new
opportunities are being created. When you combine that with pressure
from people, it makes for a pretty hopeful future."
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