Washington (AsiaNews) - First Lady Michelle Obama is now concluding a week-long tour of China with her mother and two daughters, a "real treat" for three generations of Obama women, according to Mrs. Obama's Chief of Staff, Tina Tchen. While Mrs. Obama and her family were treating themselves to the best China has to offer, hundreds of millions of women are suffering at the hands of a brutal, totalitarian regime. The White House had stated from the outset that Mrs. Obama would not be addressing human rights issues "at all."
Reggie Littlejohn, president of Women's Rights Without Frontiers, stated: "I am extremely disappointed that Mrs. Obama has deliberately ignored egregious women's rights abuses while in China. Mrs. Obama has positioned herself as an international women's leader. She could have done so much good if she had been willing to use her position to advance women's rights in a nation that tramples them. Previous first ladies have used their positions of influence to speak out for human rights in this totalitarian regime."
In 1995, then First Lady Hillary Clinton publicly condemned forced abortion, forced sterilization and gendercide at the Fourth Women's Conference in Beijing, China. In 2008, then First Lady Laura Bush implicitly criticized China by visiting a camp for Burmese refugees en route to Beijing. She then urged the Chinese government to sanction the Burmese generals for human rights violations.
Littlejohn continued: "As the mother of two children, Mrs. Obama could have spoken out against forced abortion under the One Child Policy. As the mother of two daughters, she could have taken aim also against gendercide - the sex-selective abortion of baby girls. She could have given condolences to the grieving family of Ms. Cao Shunli, a respected human rights activist who died just a couple of weeks ago after having been denied medical treatment. As the wife of a Nobel Peace Prize winner, she could have visited Liu Xia, wife of jailed 2010 Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo."
Liu Xia has been languishing under illegal house arrest since her husband Liu Xiaobo's illegal arrest in 2009. She was recently hospitalized after suffering a heart attack, but then returned to house arrest. According to an Amnesty International report of March 25, 2014, Liu Xia has finally received medical evaluation. Doctors have warned that her condition will not improve unless her current living situation changes.
Littlejohn concluded: "It is disheartening to see Mrs. Obama leave China without conveying any message on behalf of women's rights. Instead, Mrs. Obama has chosen to ignore the intense suffering of hundreds of millions of women who have been victims of forced abortion, involuntary sterilization, gendercide and sexual slavery; and she has chosen to ignore the plight of Liu Xia and the family of Cao Shunli. These choices seriously undermine any claim that she is a champion of women's rights."