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Tibet Post International: Protest rally for Xi's visit, as U.S.-China clash on rights, islands

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The Tibet Post International
Monday, 28 September 2015 14:04 │Yeshe Choesang, Tibet Post International

Washington, DC — Hundreds of people, including Tibetans, Chinese, Uighurs, Taiwanese and supporters protesting against human rights abuses in China greeted President Xi Jinping in Seattle on September 22, in demonstrations against China's leader during his week-long U.S. visit.

In downtown Seattle, a crowd supporting Falun Gong, a religious group that says it is repressed in China, waved signs against what it called China's treatment of prisoners', calling for "Stop force live organ harvesting in China."

With passionate shouts and handcrafted signs, the three-pronged afternoon demonstration gathered at Westlake Park and walked toward Westlake Center after about 30 minutes of chants that included, "Xi, you're not welcome here."

"Falun Gong practitioners have been put into forced labor camps, prisons, and mental hospitals, and they have been killed for their organs," said Michael Green, 38, of Seattle.
In Washington and in Seattle on September 22-25, protesters
shout freedom and human rights as Chinese President Xi

(Photo: Media file)
A group of pro-Chinese protesters, some of them wearing hats emblazoned with "USA," waved Chinese and U.S. flags and large red cloth signs that read "Hello President Xi" in Chinese characters.

At one point, Xi's supporters attempted to drape a giant flag over a Falun Gong banner that read: "Forced organ harvesting of Falun Gong practitioners is not tolerated by heavenly principles."

There were no arrests by late Tuesday during what police said were peaceful demonstrations. China's official atheist Communist Party does not tolerate challenges to its rule and religious activities must be state sanctioned.

In Seattle, Tibetans and supporters joined the protests against China's Human Rights violations in Tibet and called for freedom in the Himalayan region, as did activists calling for China to curb militarization of the South China Sea.

In Seattle, the Northwest Tibetan Cultural Association also asked members to attend the protest downtown "to highlight the repressive policy of Xi in Tibet", while unaffiliated activists planned to gather at a nearby park to call on China to curb militarisation of the South China Sea.

In Washington DC, As Xi and Obama gave a joint press conference in the Rose Garden, roars from hundreds of people gathered outside in protest of Mr Xi could be heard over the television broadcast.

This comes at a time when more than 140 Tibetans inside Tibet have self immolated as a means of protest against Chinese government, calling for freedom and the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

The protesters represented many groups; Chinese activists calling for democracy and religious freedom in China, Tibetans shouted for freedom and Human Rights in Tibet and and Uighurs speaking out against the Chinese state's treatment of the Uighurs in Xinjiang and chants of "shame on you Xi Jinping" and "stop lying to the world" could be heard over loudspeakers.

"We had a frank discussion about human rights, as we have in the past," Obama said, branding China's authoritarian treatment of political dissidents and religious or regional minorities "problematic."

Mr Xi firmly pushed back on human rights criticism, warning that reform would come on China's own timetable and without undermining its stability.

There was also a sensitive exchange over China's strike hard campaign to extend its sovereignty over the South China Sea by building bases on reclaimed islands in areas disputed by Washington's southeast Asian allies.

"Islands in the South China Sea, since ancient times, are China's territory," Xi declared. "We have the right to uphold our own territorial sovereignty and lawful and legitimate maritime rights and interests."

Obama said the disputes must be settled in accordance with international statutes, stressing that the United States wants to "make sure that the rules of the road are upheld."

US activists and lawmakers slammed China's recent rights record on September 18 as controversy mounts ahead of a visit to Washington by President Xi.

The Congressional-Executive Committee on China, which is a panel invited several US-based dissidents, journalists and rights activists to bear witness to what they said was a systematic abuse of civic and human rights under China's one party state.

"If President Obama had lived his life not in the United States but in China, as a Christian, a community organiser, a civil rights lawyer, a constitutional law professor, he would not be enjoying a grand fete with Xi Jinping," a Republican from Arkansas, Senator Tom Cotton said, adding: "President Obama most likely would be in prison or much, much worse."

Critics say Since Xi became the top leader of China, Christians, writers, human rights lawyers, Tibetans, Uyghurs, Mongols and many other communities have suffered increased persecution and an unrelenting assault on their basic human rights.

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"Bob Fu has dedicated his life to bringing freedom of religion to the Chinese people. His story is a testimony to the power of faith and an inspiration to people struggling to break free from oppression."
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