Monday, August 29, 2005

China allows UN torture probe.

After refusing for ten years, China has finally agreed to allow the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture to visit the country. The current rapporteur, Manfred Novak, is due to visit China from November 21 to December 2.

Apart from talks in Beijing, he is expected to travel to the Tibetan capital Lhasa to collect information about the condition of prisoners in Tibet, where many oppose the rule of China over the predominantly Buddhist Himalayan region.

Nowak also plans to visit the autonomous Xinjiang in Northwest China where the Uighur -- an Islamic Turk ethnic minority -- have reported persecution by the central Chinese government.

How much of the truth he will be able to uncover in so short a time is unclear.

The Falun Gong, a spiritual movement with millions of followers, claims its members are systematically tortured and many of them killed in re-education camps. The group is outlawed and persecuted across the country in an effort to stem the rise of the Buddhist and Taoist inspired movement.

Human rights activists also report frequent abuses of prisoners, including the use of torture to force confessions, and excessive use of the death pentalty.

The Chinese change of position on Nowak's visit may have been spurred by President Hu Jinatao's visit to the U.S. in September, with a view toward improving the climate of that meeting.

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