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Obama Urged To Seek Release Of Detained Rights Activists During China Visit

Nine leading human rights organizations have urged US President Barack Obama to take up the Chinese government's crackdown on civil society as a barrier to bilateral relations on his upcoming visit to China.

According to Human Rights Watch, a New York-based international rights group, the appeal to Obama was made in a letter published Thursday. Incidentally, Obama is scheduled to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing on November 12, 2014.

The letter by the nine rights groups urges Obama to publicly call for the releases of 2010 Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo and his wife Liu Xia; Uighur economist and advocate of inter-ethnic dialogue Ilham Tohti; human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng, who is not free despite having been released from prison; and Tenzin Delek Rinpoche, a Tibetan Buddhist leader whose health is reportedly deteriorating after a decade in prison.

"President Obama has recently called for the release of Ilham Tohti and Liu Xiaobo, and has spoken about the importance of civil society globally - but he has yet to do so in Beijing," said Sophie Richardson, China director at Human Rights Watch.

"As conditions for rights defenders in China continue to deteriorate, we urge him to deliver those messages forcefully and publicly in Beijing," she added.

The nine organizations that made the appeal include Amnesty International, Freedom House, Freedom Now, Human Rights First, Human Rights in China, Human Rights Watch, the International Campaign for Tibet, Project 2049, and the Uyghur American Association.

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