Ambassador Locke’s Comments Spark Criticism from Chinese Officials
Washington, D.C. – Human Rights First commends U.S. Ambassador to China Gary Locke’s appeal for the release of Ni Yulan, former lawyer and housing rights activist, and her husband, Dong Jiqin. His appeal stirred up controversy among Chinese officials, who dismissed it as interference by the United States and in opposition to Chinese judicial sovereignty. “Ambassador Locke’s comments represent an encouraging step toward greater U.S. government support of Chinese human rights defenders,” states Human Rights First’s Brian Dooley. “The U.S. cannot remain silent in the face of China’s ongoing and brutal crackdown on dissent.” In a statement on April 16th, Ambassador Locke noted his concern after the recent conviction of Ni and her husband, highlighting her poor state of health after previous abuse. He also asked that China lift “restrictions on the freedoms of her family members,” including the “extrajudicial house arrest” of her daughter. Ni Yulan’s case is one of many examples of human rights defenders targeted by the Chinese government for exercising their fundamental right to freedom of expression. Human Rights First has previously highlighted her case and urges Ambassador Locke to continue to draw attention to these individual cases in order to leverage U.S. influence in China for greater protection of human rights.