Australian PM Gillard pressured to address human rights crackdown in China

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Monday, April 25, 2011

File photo of Julia Gillard.
Image: MystifyMe Concert Photography.

The international organisation Human Rights Watch (HRW) has called on Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard to publicly address China’s recent crackdown on dissidents, during her visit to the country from April 25th to 28th.

In an open letter HRW called on Prime Minister Gillard to address the increasing use of repressive force in China. According to HRW at least 39 lawyers and activists have been arrested and between 100 and 200 others have been victims of repressive measures such as house arrest, since February 16th.

Prime Minister Gillard is currently on a tour of Asia which included a stop in the disaster hit regions of Japan. She told Australian media before departing that she would "of course be raising human rights (with China)." "Our view of course is that we raise human rights. We have a human rights dialogue with China. That dialogue was in session as recently as December last year."

HRW’s Asia advocacy director Sophie Richardson said that whilst Prime Minister Gillard has expressed concern in Canberra, "the test is whether she will do so publicly in Beijing"

The issue of human rights in China is of particular interest in Australia following the disappearance – and feared arrest – of Australian citizen and pro-democracy activist Yang Hengjun in China last month. The political blogger and writer disappeared in Guangzhou in March and although he has since resurfaced, he has not publicly stated exactly what happened during the two day period that he was missing.


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