Tibetans, Uighurs, and Chinese Call on Obama to Confront Xi on Rights During US-China Summit

Contact:
Pema Yoko (646) 266-0382, pema@studentsforafreetibet.org
Lhadon Tethong (917) 418-4181, lhadon@tibetaction.net

Press Conference Held Outside White House Highlights Escalating Repression

Washington, D.C. – Tibetan, Uighur and Chinese activists today held a press conference and portrait action in front of the White House in anticipation of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s first official state visit to the U.S., expected to be September 24-25th. They called on President Obama to speak out publicly against Xi Jinping’s escalating campaign of repression in Tibet, China and East Turkestan (also known as Xinjiang). To illustrate the human cost of Chinese state repression, activists held portraits of dozens of individuals targeted, imprisoned or who have died in recent years as a result of Beijing’s hardline policies.

“President Obama is preparing to honor Xi Jinping with a state dinner and a 21-gun-salute at the very moment Xi is overseeing a vicious campaign of repression in Tibet, East Turkestan and China,” said Pema Yoko, Acting Director of Students for a Free Tibet. “What Tibetans, Uighurs and Chinese need him to do most at this time is call publicly for Xi Jinping to halt the crackdown.”

Geshe Nyima, cousin of Buddhist leader and revered social activist Tenzin Delek Rinpoche, who died in prison in China on July 12th while serving his 13th year of a life sentence for a crime he did not commit, spoke about pervasive repression in Tibet and urged President Obama to confront Xi Jinping during the upcoming state visit. “President Obama has the ability to make life better for Tibetans in Tibet, and people across China too, starting with a strong public statement demonstrating to Xi that he is seriously concerned about human rights in China, Tibet and East Turkestan,” he said. “If he uses a stronger voice now it will certainly get Xi’s attention and show that this issue matters to the United States’s relationship with China,” Geshe Nyima continued.

“We are here today to speak for countless people targeted, imprisoned and who have died in recent months and years at the hands of the Chinese Communist Party, including more than 300 Chinese lawyers and rights activists, 40 Uighur political prisoners, and 143 Tibetans who have self-immolated,” said Yang Jianli, President, Initiatives for China. “It is critical that President Obama speak up for them and the basic rights and freedom of all Chinese, Tibetans and Uighurs suffering under Beijing’s repressive rule when Xi Jinping is here next week.”

“The Uighur people are targeted every single day with heavy-handed repression that is branded as a fight against terrorism,” said Alim A. Seytoff, President of Uyghur American Association (UAA). “The faces you see in these portraits represent just a fraction of the real number of Uighurs who are being targeted.”

Organized by: Students for a Free Tibet, Tibet Action Institute & Initiatives for China

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