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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

SLUG: 2-314657 U-S China Arrests (L-O)








INTRO: The United States Wednesday called on China to release three women who had been campaigning for reparations for victims of the 1989 military crackdown on student protesters in Beijing's Tiananmen Square. The three women, who are mothers or wives of victims of the mass killing, were taken into custody last Sunday. VOA's David Gollust reports from the State Department.

TEXT: The State Department is calling for the release of the three activists, saying their detention undercuts China's highly-publicized assertions this week that it is making "landmark" progress on human rights.

Relatives of the three women say they were detained Sunday and there has since been no explanation of the arrests or whether there are charges pending against them.

They have been active in a protest group pressing for reparations for victims of the military action in Tiananmen Square, and a reappraisal of the official version of the June 1989 events.

China has maintained that the demonstrations constituted a rebellion against the communist government and that the army took appropriate action in suppressing it. Hundreds of people were killed or wounded as the army routed protesters from the square in central Beijing.

State Department spokesman Adam Ereli told reporters at a news briefing the women should be freed immediately:

///Ereli actuality///

The detention of the three women who are members of the Tiananmen Mothers Campaign, as well as the Chinese government's refusal to reassess the crackdown on the Tiananmen Square protests, and the continuing imprisonment of political and religious prisoners who have spoken out for their civic rights and religious freedom, call into question China's claim that its human rights record is improving.

///end act///

The Chinese government on Tuesday issued a 40-page "white paper" describing 2003 as a year of "landmark" progress on human rights in the country.

It followed Bush administration assertions that there had been "backsliding" in the Chinese human rights situation last year, prompting a decision to present a U-S resolution critical of China at the current U-N Human Rights Commission meeting in Geneva.

A day after the introduction of the resolution last week, China said it was breaking off a human rights dialogue with the United States -- calling the U-S measure interference in its affairs and a breach of good faith talks between the two countries rights issues. (Signed)


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