Beijing Sponsors Human Rights Exhibition

–BEIJING SPONSORS HUMAN RIGHTS EXHIBITION

China kicked off a 10-day human rights exhibition last Friday, November 17 in Beijing. The display of more than 700 pictures, 250 legal documents, 330 books and 24 diagrams on human rights was meant to exhibit “China’s efforts to promote and safeguard the people’s right to life and right to develop and, more broadly, their political, economic, social and cultural rights” (Xinhua, November 17). The exhibition was jointly sponsored by the Information Office of the State Council, the China Society for Human Rights Studies and the China Foundation for Human Rights Development. The exhibition coincided with the 40th anniversary of the UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

The exhibition was possibly also staged in reaction to the recent condemnations by the United States as well as NGOs of China’s continued human rights violations. Amnesty International’s September 21 report, People’s Republic of China: The Olympic Countdown—Failing to Keep Human Rights Promises, points out China’s continued implementation of abusive forms of administrative detention, the arbitrary detention, imprisonment, torture and harassment of human rights defenders, including journalists and lawyers, and the censorship of the Internet (Amnesty International, September 21). In response to the U.S. Department of State’s International Religious Freedom Report of 2006 released on September 15, spokeswoman Jiang Yu declared on the Foreign Ministry’s website: “We demand the United States respect the truth, and stop interfering in China’s internal affairs under the pretext of religion.” She claimed that under Chinese law, the right of religious freedom is guaranteed and that various ethnic and regional groups “enjoy broad and adequate freedom of religious belief.”