WASHINGTON– The United States expressed concern Tuesday over the disappearance of prominent Chinese lawyers and activists in China.
Up to 100 leading rights lawyers and activists have disappeared since mid-February, campaigners said, as police launched a crackdown to try to avert any political unrest echoing popular uprisings in the Arab world.
“The United States is increasingly concerned by the apparent extralegal detention and enforced disappearance of some of China’s most well-known lawyers and activists,” State Department spokesman Philip Crowley told reporters.
He cited the disappearance of such people as Teng Biao and Jiang Tianyong.
“We have expressed our concern to the Chinese government over the use of extralegal punishments against these and other human rights activities,” Crowley said.
“We continue to urge China to uphold its internationally recognized obligations of universal human rights, including the freedoms of expression, association and assembly,” he added.
On Saturday, China’s state media warned citizens to ignore calls for anti-government rallies, saying that similar protests across the Middle East created “chaos.”
Authorities in China have shown increasing nervousness about the Internet’s power to mobilize citizens in the wake of unrest in the Arab world, and the subsequent online call for anti-government rallies at home.