China and International Human Rights Accountability

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China and International Human Rights Accountability

On a global stage, human rights takes front and center. It is through a lack of accountability that tragedy ensues - you don't have to look any farther than the Rwandan Genocide or the Holocaust to see that this is true. By national entities engaging in conversations about the protection human rights, the world as a whole has a hope of moving towards universal equality and fair treatment. 

China, however, is rebuking the United States for its recent criticism of the Chinese government's decision to jail lawyers and rights advocates for subversion. It is one thing to meddle in the affairs of another world power (which, as the world's most populated country and as the producer of approximately half of the world's goods, is difficult to argue). It is another entirely, however, to call out another nation and for that nation to throw a hissy fit. That seems to be, at first glance, what China is doing. The human right to freedom of speech should go without saying, but is apparently undermined by China's conviction of these individuals. 

One lawyer, who has received numerous accolades, publically renounced her work and the awards given to her. Many people, as well as international human rights groups, view this as a coerced confession, which it very well may be. 

The record of Chinese suspects confessing on public television is not a new one, but the silencing of activists as an alleged threat to national stability is one that needs to be addressed. 

While in Greece, I was able to visit the Ai Weiwei exhbit at one of Athen's museums. Ai Weiwei is an artist and a Chinese dissident who has long been critical of China's stance on human rights and democracy. In particular, he has worked to expose government corruption and coverups. His most notable investigation was the investigation of the collapse of multiple schools during an earthquake (costing over 5,000 children their lives as a reult of structurally unsafe buildings). He was arrested in 2011 and held without any charges being made for an 81 day duration. His experience, I feel, is a good example of what the advocates and lawyers who were convicted are experiencing in China at this moment.