(Washington) -- T. Kumar, Amnesty International USA advocacy director for Asia and the Pacific, made the following statement in response to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's comments to reporters that human rights will not be at the top of her agenda in her first visit to China:
"Amnesty International is shocked and extremely disappointed by U.S. Secretary Clinton's comments that human rights will not be a priority in her diplomatic engagement with China.
"The United States is one of the only countries that can meaningfully stand up to China on human rights issues. But by commenting that human rights will not interfere with other priorities, Secretary Clinton damages future U.S. initiatives to protect those rights in China.
"The Chinese people face a dire situation. Crackdowns on Tibetans, Uighurs and religious groups such as the Falun Gong are widespread, resulting in thousands of political prisoners--some of whom have been executed. Half a million people are currently in labor camps. Women face forced abortion and sterilization as part of China's enforcement of its one-child policy.
"It's not too late for Secretary Clinton to do the right thing for the Chinese people. Amnesty International urges Secretary Clinton to repair the damage caused by her statement and publicly declare that human rights are central to U.S.-China relations before she leaves Beijing."
In a letter sent to Secretary Clinton before her trip to Asia, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, along and other organizations insisted that she raise important human rights concerns with Chinese officials on her visit.
Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 2.2 million supporters, activists and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.