The co-chairs of the Congressional and Executive Committee on China (CECC) sent a joint letter Thursday (July 1) to U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres calling on the United Nations to take immediate action to closely monitor and assess the serious human rights violations in the People’s Republic of China.
Senator Jeff Merkley (D-CA), Chairman of the Congressional and Executive Committee on China, called on the United Nations to take immediate action to closely monitor and assess the serious human rights violations in the People’s Republic of China. In their joint letter, Senator Jeff Merkley (D-MA), Chairman of the Congressional and Executive Committee on China, and Representative James P. McGovern (D-MA), Co-Chairman of the Committee, noted that on June 26 of last year, 50 independent UN human rights experts issued a statement calling for renewed attention to the human rights situation in China, particularly with regard to the people of Hong Kong, Xinjiang, Tibet and the entire Chinese territory. and Tibetan minorities, as well as human rights defenders throughout China. Now, one year later, the co-chairs asked the UN Secretary-General to report on whether there has been any progress in implementing the recommendations made by the experts and, if so, to provide a description of the current situation; and, if no action has been taken in this regard, to provide reasons for the lack of action.
The joint letter stated that 50 experts, including the UN Special Investigator on Human Rights, had called on the UN Commission on Human Rights to act urgently to take all appropriate measures to monitor human rights practices in China. Among the measures proposed by the experts were the convening of a special session to assess human rights violations in China, the establishment of an impartial and independent mechanism to monitor, analyze and report on the human rights situation in China, and dialogue with China to hold it to its human rights commitments.
The joint letter points out that the date of the letter is the first anniversary of the implementation of the Hong Kong version of the National Security Law, and that the fundamental freedoms of the Hong Kong public have deteriorated rapidly, with more than 100 people arrested on charges of violating the National Security Law, many for simply participating peacefully in marches, speaking out for democratic reform, or engaging in civic activities. In addition independent journalism has been suppressed, and educators have been disciplined for preparing materials that do not match the government’s caliber.
The joint letter also calls Gutierrez’s attention to the upcoming anniversary of the “709 arrests. The Chinese government began a nationwide, coordinated campaign of arrests of human rights defenders and lawyers around July 9, 2015, affecting more than 300 human rights defenders and lawyers. Some were convicted on charges of “endangering national security” when they were clearly defending the rights of others. Four individuals remain in prison today, and the lawyers who defended those arrested in the mass arrests have themselves become criminals, the joint letter said.
The letter from the two co-chairs of the U.S. Congressional and Executive Committee on China also highlights the fact that the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has determined that the situation of lawyers Li Yuxun and Yu Wensheng is arbitrary and that the persecution of human rights defenders and lawyers is a complete departure from the rule of law advocated by the Chinese government.
The letter also strongly criticizes the Chinese government’s persecution of minority and religious groups, particularly the concentration camps and forced labor in Xinjiang for Uighurs and other ethnic minorities.
The co-chairs of the U.S. Congressional and Executive Committee on China specifically noted that they echoed the call of U.N. experts for the U.N. Secretary General to take immediate steps to closely monitor and assess China’s behavior in light of its serious abuses. The Co-Chairs also encouraged the United Nations to use the U.S. Congress and Administration’s China Committee’s “Political Prisoner Database (https://www.ppdcecc.gov/ppd)” as a resource tool for understanding the situation of persecuted persons.