China Human Rights Activist Harry Wu Says State Dep’t Ignores Religious Freedom Issues in China

By Patrick Burke | June 12, 2012 | 6:08pm EDT

Chinese human rights activist Harry Wu, along with Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) at a Capitol Hill news conference. (AP photo)

( – Chinese human-rights activist Harry Wu said he was “very disappointed in Obama,” and he also said the U.S. State Department, by excluding chapters on religious freedom for the first time in its human rights reports on various countries this year was ignoring the problem of religious repression in Communist China.

The State Department “never take[s] action,” he said.

Wu, a 19-year prisoner in the Laogai, a system of Chinese Communist labor camps, is the executive director of the Laogai Research Foundation in Washington, D.C.

The State Department’s Human Rights Reports for 2011, which Secretary of State Hillary Clinton released on May 24 of this year, three months late, did not include – for the first time – chapters outlining abuses of religious freedom in the country reports for China and other nations.

At a conference held at the Laogai Museum on Monday about human rights violations in Tibet, asked Wu: “The State Department, upon releasing its Human Rights Reports this year for each country like they do, including the one for China, for the first time they’ve omitted the section on religious freedom. They refer you elsewhere for that information, and I’m wondering what you thought of that?”

Wu, for whom English is a second language, said: “It’s simple. In the first 35 years in (Communist) China, all kinds of religions including Christian, including Catholic, including Buddhism, including Muslim-- entirely abolished. No religion at all.” followed up, “So you do think it’s just their way of ignoring the problem?”

“Yes, they (the State Department) ignore it,” Wu replied.

When asked what he sees as the proper role of the United States and the Obama administration in addressing this issue, Wu replied: “I am very disappointed in Obama. Because until today, I did not see anybody active on human rights, particularly in China and in Tibet.”

He added: “So we just want to [tell] Americans that you have to care about it. China is a huge country for the forced abortions, for sterilizations. China is the country [that forbids] Roman Catholics until this moment. China is the country that has taken thousands of prisoners every year.  And following that policy, they remove organs for transplants. And China is the country that violates and [censors] the Internet.”

(Image courtesy of Laogai Research Foundation)

This week, seven Tibetans who have survived human rights violations at the hands of the Chinese Communist regime and many of whom served sentences in LaoGai prisons, met for a three day conference to discuss the human rights violations that take place in the region of Tibet.

The Laogai is a prison network in China made up of thousands of labor camps. Since 1949, the Chinese Communist regime has used these camps as a source of labor and revenue for the government.

The Laogai prison camps normally function as commercial entities such as factories, mines and workshops, where criminals of all types provide forced labor for the government.

The three day conference entitled. Laogai in Tibet’ was co-sponsored by the Laogai Research Foundation, the International Campaign for Tibet,  The Tom Lantos Foundation for Human Rights & Justice and The Victims of Communism Memorial Fund.

On Friday and Monday, seven Tibetan survivors shared their stories of human rights violations and political oppression that they suffered both in China and Tibet.

Most of the Tibetan survivors who gave statements -- Tsewang Dhondup, Tubten Khetsun, Dolkar Kyap, Ghang Lhamo, Jampel Monlam, Ngawang Sangdrol and Lukar Sham -- served lengthy sentences in the LaoGai prison network and all of them endured inhumane treatment as a result of protesting against the Chinese government.

Since March 2008, the International Campaign for Tibet-- one of the co-sponsors of the Laogai conference -- reports at least 600 Tibetans have been detained by the Chinese for political reasons.

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