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<-Back to WTN Archives France's Chirac urged to raise rights in China (Reuter)
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World Tibet Network News

Thursday, May 15, 1997



3. France's Chirac urged to raise rights in China (Reuter)


PARIS, May 14 (Reuter) - French human rights groups urged President Jacques
Chirac on Wednesday to raise the fate of pro-democracy dissidents during a
coming state visit to China.

The French League of Human Rights (LDH) urged Chirac to make a significant
gesture during the visit, starting on Thursday, to erase what it called
France's disastrous image with Chinese democrats after it refused to back a
United Nations resolution condemning human rights violations in China.

The LDH asked Chirac to meet or pay tribute to dissidents, including Wei
Jingsheng, who is serving a 14-year sentence, and Ding Zilin, who has been
compiling the names of those who died in the repression of pro-democracy
supporters since her son was killed near Tiananmen square in 1989.

Wei, regarded as the father of China's modern democracy movement, was
sentenced in December 1995 on charges of plotting to overthrow the
government.

Nominated several times in recent years for the Nobel Peace Prize, Wei was
arrested in April 1994, just six months after being freed on parole after
serving all but six months of a 15-year term for subversion.

The press freedom watchdog Reporters without Borders (RSF) also pleaded for
Wei and urged Chirac to intervene with Chinese leaders in favour of 12
journalists "imprisoned only because they practised their profession."

"They are being held in most cases in disastrous conditions ignoring
respect for human dignity," RSF said.

RSF, the LDH and the group Human Rights in China said they had written to
candidates in France's forthcoming parliamentary election, asking them to
take a public stand on China.

They asked candidates to commit themselves to press the French government
to raise human rights violations in China in a new U.N. resolution.

The groups also urged politicians to condemn forced and child labour in
China and to pressure the French government to officially receive the
exiled Tibetan religious leader, the Dalai Lama, when he next visits
France.

Main aim of Chirac's state visit is to boost France's share of trade with
China. It missed out on China's economic boom in the early 1990s after the
late Socialist president Francois Mitterrand criticised the 1989 crackdown
on a student-led democracy movement in Beijing and sold fighter planes and
warships to Taiwan.

A visit to Beijing by then conservative prime minister Edouard Balladur in
1994 was marred by the detention of prominent human rights activists
apparently timed to show that the Communist rulers were immune to foreign
pressure.

French officials insist China is making progress in enacting laws
enshrining civil rights, despite fierce criticism by human rights
organisations.

Chirac spokeswoman Catherine Colonna, asked if the president would raise
human rights issues in Beijing, said he would stress dialogue rather than
confrontation during this "important, delicate phase" of reforms in China.

But he might take up individual cases discreetly and would also make a
speech on "the rule of law" at Beijing's civil service college on Friday.

Chirac's diplomatic adviser Jean-David Levitte was reported to have told
representatives of several human rights groups last week that the president
would raise human rights issues and try to convince Chinese leaders that
the Dalai Lama's demands for talks on Tibet were quite moderate.

"Human rights cannot be a subject for quiet discussions behind closed
doors. They must be proclaimed loud and clear," RSF President Noel Copin
said in a column in the influential newspaper Le Monde.


Articles in this Issue:
  1. Scorsese raps China for Cannes directors' ban (Reuter)
  2. Finland prison chief impressed by China jails (Reuter)
  3. France's Chirac urged to raise rights in China (Reuter)
  4. Voice of Tibets 1st Anniversary (VOT)
  5. A visit to the Argentine set of 'Seven Years in Tibet



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