Diritti umani in Cina: Harry Wu si congratula con Hillary Clinton

Il direttore della Laogai Research Foundation in Washington, Harry Wu, ha scritto una lettera aperta al segretario di Stato Usa Hillary Clinton, congratulandosi per aver dato importanza, nel dialogo con la Cina, alla questione dei diritti umani nel paese asiatico. Segue il testo della lettera
February 9, 2009

The Honorable Hillary Rodham Clinton
United States Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20520

Dear Secretary Clinton:

I would like to congratulate you on your successful appointment as the 67th Secretary of State of the United States. Your experience, intelligence, and vision will be instrumental in repairing the standing of the United States within the international community and shaping a foreign policy that is grounded in the principles of freedom and democracy.

I was deeply encouraged by your recent remarks calling for a “comprehensive dialogue” with China. Such an approach would mark a clear departure from the foreign policy of the Bush administration, which you rightly described as having diminished our dialogue with China into a solely economic one, to the detriment of many other pressing issues, especially human rights. Indeed, the human rights situation in China has suffered greatly under President Bush’s watch.

After 30 years of engagement with the rest of the world, China has reformed little else than its economy. It remains a nation of one “ism”, one Party, one leader, one system. To suggest that there is any form of democracy in China, as Chinese officials so often like to do, completely belies the reality of life in China: the Communist Party still controls everything–the military, the police, the courts, the schools, the media, the major industries, all religious and professional associations and, through all these, the Chinese people. There is no democracy in China.

The Chinese government may have invited foreign investment into the country and encouraged its people to do business and enjoy their newfound wealth, but it still prohibits workers in China from organizing independent labor unions, an irony not lost on the Chinese people, who were once told that the Communist Party was the party of the proletariat. The government has also rebuilt many of the churches, mosques and temples that were destroyed under Mao Zedong, yet the Chinese people still do not enjoy the freedom of religion. It is still illegal for Chinese citizens to join the world’s largest religious body, the Roman Catholic Church. Likewise, Tibetan Buddhists and Uyghur Muslims face severe restrictions on and interference in their most sacred religious observances, and many of them are languishing in Chinese prisons today, branded as “splittists.”

Women in China, as you are well aware, continue to suffer some of the most intrusive and egregious abuses at the hands of the Chinese government. Despite its widespread unpopularity, China’s “one-child” population control policy continues to be coercively enforced by local officials across the nation. In addition to exorbitant fines, detention, and destruction of property, couples who violate the policy are routinely subjected to forced abortions and/or forced sterilizations. I know of no other country in the world that engages in this brutal form of family planning.

The prospects for change to these and other repressive policies in China are bleak. Those courageous Chinese individuals who dare to challenge the Chinese government, even through something as innocuous as a petition or a critical article, are often charged with “inciting subversion of State power” or similar crimes and sentenced to several years of labor in the prison camps of China’s Laogai system. Several thousands of the Laogai’s prisoners are estimated to be executed each year, more than all other countries in the world combined. Even then, though, the exploitation of these prisoners does not stop; my Foundation and many other organizations have extensively documented the ongoing practice of organ harvesting in China’s prisons. As with the executions in China, government officials go to great lengths to cover up this disturbing practice. In 2006, however, the Chinese Vice-Minister of Health acknowledged that more than 95% of organs used for medical transplants in Chinese hospitals came from executed prisoners.

Some 50 million people have been incarcerated in China’s Laogai since the Communists came to power in 1949. Unlike me, however, most of them have remained nameless and faceless–they just disappeared. Like the Soviet Gulag, the Laogai represents a gross assault on the human rights and dignity of a proud people, yet it continues to operate, largely unchallenged, today. I hope you will consider visiting the Laogai Museum, which I just opened several months ago in Washington, DC, to hear the stories of some of the Laogai’s many prisoners and the abuses that they endured. Additionally, I urge you to keep these victims in mind during your upcoming trip to China, and I encourage you to set the tone of our relationship with China early, removing any doubts about the U.S.’s commitment to human rights in China.

I wish you well in the tremendous endeavor you are undertaking and offer you my heartfelt support.


Harry Wu
Executive Director
The Laogai Research Foundation


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