By Tenzin Dharpo
DHARAMSHALA, Sept. 8: The Global human rights group ‘Human Rights Watch’ has accused Beijing of repeatedly pressurizing and blocking access to activists and experts who raise human rights concerns in China at the United Nations.
"China engages with the UN on human rights but often with the goal of aggressively silencing criticism and eroding access for activists who work on China," HRW chief Kenneth Roth said in a statement on Tuesday.
Roth also said that China has employed every means at their disposal in trying to silence domestic critics. He said China has used "its Security Council membership, global influence, and fierce crackdown on civil society at home to make it a model of bad faith that challenges the integrity of the UN rights system."
HRW’s report on the same issue stated that Beijing has “blacklisted” activists, experts as well as NGO’s and accused Chinese officials of routinely photographing and filming activists on UN premises, in violation of UN rules, and barring Chinese activists from travelling to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.
China’s action, the report accused, “amount to what appears to be a systematic attempt to subvert the ability of the UN human rights system to confront abuses in China and beyond". The detention of Chinese activist Cao Shunli as she attempted to travel to Geneva ahead of a UN review of China's rights record and her subsequent death in custody in 2013 was cited by HRW in the report.
HRW Chief Roth also slammed the United Nations for often capitulating to Chinese pressure and often “soft-pedalling” to avoid confrontation with China.
"Unless the UN and concerned governments put a stop to China's efforts to manipulate or weaken UN human rights mechanisms, the UN's credibility and indeed its ability to defend rights in China and around the globe are at risk," Roth said in the statement.
Besides crackdown on activists and experts, China’s press freedom has also been under heightened scrutiny. China has maintained its poor record when it comes to the freedom of press in the country, according to the annual ‘World Press Freedom Index’ by the international press freedom watchdog Reporters sans frontières (Reporters Without Border). The Communist nation has been ranked 176th amongst 180 countries and territories, just four places above the last country.