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Chinese Rights Activists Speak up on Trump-Xi Summit

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Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo and his wife, Liu Xia, pose in this undated photo released by his family. VOA Source : Reuters
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April 10, 2017: As U.S. President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping met Friday at Trump’s Florida resort, Mar-a-Lago, human rights activist said they hoped the leaders would discuss human rights.

Hu Jia and Wang Qiaoling, wife of detained human rights lawyer Li Heping, told VOA they were concerned about two specific human rights cases in China: a wave of arrests July 9, 2015, known as the 709 Incident that targeted three groups connected to rights advocacy, and house church persecution.

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They sought the release of prisoners of conscience including Liu Xiaobo, the Nobel Peace Prize winner who was sentenced to 11 years in prison in 2009 for advocating democracy in China, and Ilham Tohti, an advocate for China’s Uighur minority who is serving a life sentence after a Chinese court convicted him of separatism in 2014.

Civil society controlled

Xi’s administration has tightened control over almost every aspect of civil society since 2012, citing the need to buttress national security and stability. The detention and prosecution of lawyers and activists have caused an international outcry, criticism that China consistently rejects, saying it adheres to the rule of law. And while media in China covered the U.S.-China summit, no official outlets covered calls by members of Congress for discussions about China’s human rights record while at the lavish estate.

Sen. Marco Rubio, the Florida Republican, told the McClatchy News Service before the summit that “it is imperative that the president raises the plight of political prisoners and human rights activists by name” adding that presidential pressure “often results in improved conditions and shorter sentences” for those facing persecution.

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Rep. Chris Smith is a senior member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, co-chairman and the highest-ranking House member of both the bipartisan House/Senate Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE), and the bipartisan House/Senate/White House Congressional-Executive Commission on China on which Rubio also serves.

Smith recently told VOA “the president has to bring up, in a robust way, a way that was not done in the Obama administration, issues of human rights abuse which, sadly, Xi Jinping is in a race to the bottom with North Korea on subjecting its own citizens to torture, its women to forced abortion, and a whole list of gross human rights abuses.

“The government of China says: Respect us!’ Sure, we’ll do that,” Smith said, adding “Please respect your own people first.”

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Words from Trump could mean a lot

Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought recipient Hu Jia told VOA Friday he hoped Trump spoke with Xi about Ilham, the attorneys detained since the 709 Incident, Liu Xiaobo “and his wife Liu Xia, who is also affected, and the prevalent persecution of Christian house church, an issue that aligns with Republicans’ values.”

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Wang Qiaoling, the wife of Li, the human rights lawyer, told VOA that she saw Trump’s decision to send missile strikes to Syria’s air base the U.S. described as linked to the chemical weapons attacks as a sign of potential toughness on China the Chinese government, to be precise. VOA

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Brown: The colour of toil but non-acceptance across the West?

"This is now our destiny as brown people. Our labour is needed, but citizenship is denied."

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Police Chief David Brown. Image Source: Twitter
  • Kamal Al Solaylee’s book Brown highlights the problems of ‘brown’ people in Trump’s rule
  • Donald Trump is often accused of malingering the image of brown people
  • this book cites many examples of discrimination which brown people go through

Title: Brown: What Being Brown in the World Today Means (to Everyone); Author: Kamal Al Solaylee

All our social development and our technological advancements don’t seem enough to eradicate our long-persisting atavistic sense of difference based on appearance, which though long-suppressed is now emerging free from its restraints — as proved by the recent intemperate comments by US President Donald Trump on immigrants from a certain set of countries.

Trump’s thinking, as seen in his off-the-cuff remarks, underscore that the questionable classification of race, expressed by the obviously evident and inescapable feature of a person’s skin, is well alive — and extends beyond the white-black binary. What about the yellow, or rather, the (as necessary for the global economy but far more exploited) brown?

Donald Trump is famous for his rude comments towards brown people. wikimedia commons
Donald Trump is famous for his rude comments towards brown people. wikimedia commons

Trump is only one leading manifestation of the malaise facing brown people — which include West Asians, Latin Americans, North Africans, and South and Southeast Asians — and far beyond the West too or from the “Whites”, says Yemeni-origin, Egypt-bred, Canadian journalist-turned-academician Al Solaylee in this book.

Trump’s victory “largely (but not exclusively)” rode on demonising Mexicans, galvanising sentiment against Muslims and championing white nationalism, the vote for Brexit was mostly pioneered by those with a restrictive view of Englishness, the record of Canada under Stephen Harper’s Conservatives — all these are obscure racial conflicts brewing in the US and Europe for decades now.

Also Read: Mexico can learn about dealing with diaspora from India: Claudia Ruiz-Massieu Salinas

“Examine these tensions closely and you’ll find a strong anti-brown sentiment at the core,” says Al Solaylee as he traces the response to, as well as the experiences of, the residents of Global South, who are forced to migrate to — and much needed in — the Developed North for various reasons, not least of which is the latter’s colonial record.

“Brown as the colour of cheap labour continues on a global scale… brown bodies undertake the work that white and older immigrant Americans refuse to do (and those black slaves were forced to do in previous centuries).

These are low-skill, labour-intensive jobs in unforgiving climates,” he says, but also that these are not limited to the Western nations but also in the more affluent parts of Asia itself too.

“This is now our destiny as brown people. Our labour is needed, but citizenship is denied; our presence as Muslims or religious minorities is offered as an example of the tolerant, diverse societies in which we live, but we continue to be feared,” says Al Solaylee.

And there is no difference whether this is deliberate or mistaken as he goes to cite the cases of the racist slurs on Sikh volunteers feeding the homeless in Manchester in the wake of the May 2017 terror attack, or the fatal shooting of Indian techie Srinivas Kuchibhotla in the US in February 2017 by an American who thought he and his friend were Iranians and screaming at them to “get out of his country”.

Al Solaylee contends we think of brown as a “continuum, a grouping — a metaphor, even — for the millions of darker-skinned people who, in broad historical terms, have missed out on the economic and political gains of the post-mobility, equality and freedom”. They are now living, he says, among former colonial masters where they are “transforming themselves from nameless individuals with swarthy skins into neighbours, co-workers and friends”.

You may also like: List of 50 People who have affected Hinduism in a Negative Manner 

And it is their story he tells — both in their homes from the Philippines to Sri Lanka and workplaces from Hong Kong to the Gulf as well as Western Europe and North America.

Al Solaylee, however, starts with first recounting his own childhood experience on learning he is brown after seeing an English movie featuring a white child and coming to terms with “brownness” in his journeys around the world and interactions with other browns (fairness creams figure largely as well as the concern that he settle down) as well as Brown’s significance in nature and culture.

He then takes up the human obsession with race, despite the concept being debunked, except in politics before his exploration of the experiences and consequences of being brown around the world.

A stirring travelogue, incisive social and political comment and a passionate cry to rise above unavoidable consequences of geography and genes, this invaluable work rises in importance beyond its subject to be a seminal guide to the world today — and what it will soon be — particularly the US. IANS