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AP/RETUERS_2.4.97: U.S.DELEGATE ON
Subject: AP/RETUERS_2.4.97: U.S.DELEGATE ON THE MOVE ON U.N.RIGHTS-LOBBY
EUR: US SAYS WANTS UN RIGHTS VOTE ON CHINA
GENEVA, April 2 Reuter - A senior United States official has
said Washington wanted a resolution criticising China to emerge
from the United Nations Human Rights Commission currently in
session in Geneva.
Bill Richardson, US ambassador to the UN in New York and a
member of President Bill Clinton's cabinet, was speaking at a news
conference last night after telling the Commission China "continues
to commit widespread and well-documented human rights abuses."
"Our hope is to be part of a human rights resolution (on China)
that emerges from our European colleagues," he declared, saying a
prime purpose of his Geneva trip was to rally support against
Chinese blocking tactics on the issue.
Washington was "determined that there be a human rights
resolution in some fashion," he added.
He was speaking amid clear signs that the 15-nation European
Union, which over the past few years has sponsored the annual bid
to have China condemned by the 53-member Commission, would not
unite this year behind a text.
France said last week it would not go along with a resolution
again, arguing that "constructive dialogue" with Beijing was more
productive than pushing without success for condemnation of China
in the UN body.
Some other EU states, including Germany, are sympathetic to the
French stance, according to diplomatic sources.
For the past six years, China has fought off even the tabling of
a resolution on its rights record by winning majority support in
the Commission for a "no action" motion, and diplomats say it is
well positioned to succeed again.
Richardson said he would be engaged in "quite active lobbying"
against the "no action" motion and would aim at what he called
"eight or nine swing votes that are moving rapidly" in a bid to
But he declined to say if the United States would produce a
resolution of its own on China if the Europeans failed to agree on
In his speech to the Commission, briefly interrupted by a
Chinese delegate who accused him of abusing his status as a guest,
Richardson hailed improvements in living standards and "some
positive reforms in the rule of law" in China.
But Beijing continued "to severely restrict fundamental freedoms
of speech, the press, assembly, association and religion, in
violation of internationally-accepted norms," he declared.
"We do not seek confrontation over this issue, but we firmly
believe that the PRC (People's Republic of China) should be held
accountable, and certainly at the United Nations Human Rights
Commission, to the international standards that China itself has
endorsed," the US envoy added.
He said he would also be looking for resolutions condemning
Cuba, Burma and Sudan among others.
China accuses Western countries of using the Commission to
target emerging economies, arguing that no country's record on
human rights is perfect.
ASIA: BURMESE WOMEN IN DESPERATE SITUATION
BANGKOK, Thailand, April 4 AP - Widespread human-rights abuses
inflicted by the military government in Burma fall hardest on the
country's women, a Burmese opposition group said today.
The country's best-known woman, pro-democracy leader Aung San
Suu Kyi, winner of the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize, has been effectively
silenced by the regime and is virtually confined to her home.
But ordinary women, especially those belonging to ethnic
minorities, have also suffered badly at the hands of the regime,
the All Burma Democratic Students Front said in a new report.
The ABSDF is composed of students who fled to Burma's jungles
after the current regime, the State Law and Order Restoration
Council, gunned down thousands of pro-democracy activists in 1988.
The report said the army frequently drafts women as forced
forced porters in its campaigns against the country's various
rebel groups, including the ABSDF, and makes them act as human
The soldiers often gang-rape the women at night and routinely
rape women whose villages are razed in a military attempt to pacify
ethnic rebel groups. Tens of thousands are forced to live in misery
as refugees in Thailand.
The level of care both urban and rural mothers can provide their
children has steadily deteriorated since the military first seized
power in 1962 and sent the economy and health-care system on a
long, downward spiral, the report said.
Lack of economic opportunities has sent tens of thousands of
Burmese women and girls across the border to make a living in the
sex industry of wealthier Thailand, where they are subject to
beatings and sometimes murder, the report said. They are
particularly vulnerable to AIDS.
The report noted that women traditionally have had little voice
in Burmese society.
Of the 485 members of the parliament elected in 1990, only 15
were women, all members of Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy.
The NLD overwhelmingly won the vote but the regime never allowed
parliament to convene.
There was no immediate response to the charges from the military
regime, but most of the allegations in the report have been
previously documented and published by human-rights groups.
The government postponed its regular news conference this month
"due to unforeseen circumstances," apparently referring to an
outbreak of rioting by Buddhist monks against minority Muslims in
The unrest was reportedly set off by the rape of a Buddhist girl
by one or more Muslim men in the country's second-largest city,