02/12/2009, 00.00
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China rejects all criticism on human rights, but accepts advice from Cuba and Iran

In the report on the review of violations in China, Beijing stresses the advice of countries calling for greater control of dissidents and the internet. But human rights activists are claiming success simply for being able to discuss China's abuses at a UN meeting.

Geneva (AsiaNews/Agencies) - China is rejecting almost all of the criticisms made at the UN Human Rights Council, but is welcoming the advice of Cuba and Iran for greater control over dissidents. Human rights groups are, in any case, satisfied that for the first time, the serious violations of the Chinese government have been discussed.

The final report, written yesterday by India, Canada, and Nigeria, limits itself to calling upon China to continue its efforts to promote and protect human rights, and encouraging it to continue its economic development and take on an increasingly active international role.

Germany, Great Britain, and Mexico asked Beijing to permit religious freedom; abolish the reeducation-through-work camps; stop using physical and psychological torture against detainees; abolish the "phantom" prisons for dissidents and its persecution against those who defend human rights; respect minorities like the Tibetans and the Uyghurs of Xinjiang; permit freedom of expression, and eliminate censorship.

Beijing simply responded that these accusations are untrue, or that they are being made for political purposes, without even addressing the numerous specific examples cited. Instead, it said it agrees with the countries, especially the developing ones or those with authoritarian regimes, like Sudan and Sri Lanka, that have urged it to increase its economic development, create more jobs in rural areas, and do more to integrate the disabled.

China agreed to the request to reconsider which cases should be punished with the death penalty, while specifying that "in [the] current circumstances" it has no intention of dropping this.

The concluding statement reports fewer of the criticisms against China and more proposals like that of Cuba, to crack down on the "self-styled human rights defenders working against the Chinese state and people," or Pakistan's complaint against the people with "disturbing links to external perpetrators" who took to the streets during the anti-Chinese protests in Tibet in March of 2008, which Beijing repressed through violence and arrests. Or again, Iran's encouragement to increase censorship of the internet against "defamation of religion."

But experts observe that for the first time, the UN council has at least been able to talk about human rights violations in China. Before this, since 1989, Beijing had always been able to prevent its actions in Tiananmen Square, or other abuses, from being discussed.

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