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US Commission condemns violence and harassment by pro-China groups

By Tenzin Nyidon Newsdesk

December 14, 2023

DHARAMSHALA, Dec 14: The bipartisan and bicameral Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC) conducted a press conference at Capitol Hill on Tuesday, highlighting the escalation of violence and harassment directed towards Tibetans and others by pro-China factions during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in San Francisco. 

Representative Christopher Smith (R-NJ), the CECC Chair, leading the conference, was joined by notable advocates for human rights in China, including Pema Doma from Students for a Free Tibet (SFT), Fengsuo Zhou from Human Rights in China, Anna Kwok from the Hong Kong Democracy Council, Elfidar Iltebir representing the Uyghur-American Association, and other victims who had experienced violence and intimidation first-hand.

The speakers at the conference outlined the egregious nature of the events that transpired during the APEC summit, emphasising the targeted violence, harassment, and intimidation tactics employed by pro-CCP groups against Tibetans and individuals advocating for human rights. Each speaker provided harrowing personal experiences or presented compelling evidence to underscore the severity of the situation and the urgent need for action and accountability.

Pema Doma, the Executive Director at Students for a Free Tibet, shared a deeply concerning account of the events that unfolded during the recent APEC summit in San Francisco, particularly highlighting the targeted harassment and violence faced by cross-movement activists representing Tibet, Uyghur, and Hong Kong advocacy groups. Her narrative encapsulated the significant escalation of threats and intimidation experienced by activists protesting against Xi Jinping’s visit.  Doma said that she noted a stark difference in the intensity and scale of pro-CCP counter-protesters during Xi Jinping’s arrival in San Francisco compared to previous visits, with a notable increase in their numbers and aggressiveness.

Describing the distressing incident that transpired on November 15, Doma pointed out an unprecedented level of harassment she had never encountered in her life as a Tibetan-American activist. Doma’s testimony revealed the extent of the aggression faced by these young activists, with incidents ranging from cuts caused by flagpoles, and sand thrown in their eyes, to repeated hits on their heads. Shockingly, these assaults, as reported, specifically targeted high school and college students, showcasing a deliberate tactic by pro-CCP groups to create a sense of panic and insecurity among the youth engaged in protests. Despite the escalating violence and intimidation, Doma commended the resilience of the student activists who, along with their parents’ support, chose to stay and continue their peaceful protests.

Chairman Christopher Smith, echoed the sentiments expressed during the conference, condemning the actions of pro-China factions and expressing unwavering support for human rights and freedom of expression. He said, “Last month as foreign leaders descended upon San Francisco for the Asian Pacific Economic Conference, dozens of advocacy groups showed up to peacefully protest Xi Jinping’s participation and ruthless human rights abuses. They had every right to do so, and I applaud them for utilising their First Amendment rights of freedom of speech and assembly to speak out against the most ruthless of tyrants.

“However, these basic civil rights were violated for many of these brave protesters. Counter-protesters voicing support for General Secretary Xi Jinping and the Chinese Communist Party violently attacked many of these activists and harassed countless others. And we know they weren’t there on their own volition. They were there on behalf of the government of China, on behalf of the Chinese Communist Party.”



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