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"As long as human rights are violated, there can be no foundation for peace. How can peace grow where speaking the truth is itself a crime?"

US lawmakers, Chinese exiles press Obama on rights

November 26, 2009

November 25, 2009

WASHINGTON, Nov. 23 -- U.S. lawmakers and exiled
Chinese dissidents urged U.S. President Barack
Obama on Monday to intervene with China's
government on behalf of Jiang Tianyong, a rights
activist who tried to see Obama while he was in China last week.

The group said Obama should be more outspoken
about human rights with the Communist Chinese
government. During his visit the American
president spoke out for freedom on the Internet
and other rights, but avoided sharp jabs in his comments.

Jiang was detained by Chinese authorities after
he had gathered with other Chinese rights
activists near the U.S. embassy in Beijing last
Wednesday, hoping to meet Obama.

Jiang was released. But over the weekend, police
surveillance of Jiang's house intensified,
Republican Representatives Chris Smith and Frank
Wolf told a news conference on Monday in
Washington. They said they feared he would be
arrested if no appeal is made on his behalf.

"Today we call on you, Mr. President, to
personally intervene with your close friend and
strategic partner, (Chinese President) Hu Jintao
and ask him to cease persecuting Jiang Tianyong,"
Smith said at a news conference on Capitol Hill.

Wei Jingsheng, a well-known Chinese dissident who
was released from jail in 1997 and sent into
exile in the United States, said Obama should be
more outspoken about human rights by raising
cases publicly, not just privately with Chinese officials.

"In talking in private, I do not think that you
will have any result," Wei said at the news
conference with Smith, Wolf and Harry Wu, another
exiled Chinese dissident. "You must put this above the table," Wei said.

Wu appeared with Jiang earlier this month in
Washington at a hearing where Jiang testified to
U.S. lawmakers about compulsory abortions and
sterilizations under China's one-child policy. Jiang then returned to China.

In China, Jiang has defended other Chinese rights
activists and volunteered legal aid to Tibetans
arrested after demonstrations in 2008. He was one
of almost two dozen lawyers whose licenses to
practice law were not renewed in May 2009.

Another Chinese dissident who tried to help
victims of last year's Sichuan earthquake, Huang
Qi, was jailed for three years on Monday on
charges of illegally possessing state secrets, his wife said.
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