US, China to Hold Human Rights Dialogue Amidst Kirti Monastery Crisis

The U.S. State Department says its diplomats will travel to Beijing next week for human rights talks amid a crackdown on Chinese dissidents amid Chinese siege of the Kirti Monastery.

A press release said Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Michael Posner will lead an interagency delegation to the two-day U.S.-China Human Rights Dialogue.

Discussions, which will begin Wednesday, will focus on human rights developments, including the recent trend of forced disappearances, extralegal detentions, and arrests and convictions.

The statement also said discussions will cover rule of law, freedom of religion, freedom of expression, labor rights, minority rights and other human rights issues of concern.

Dozens of well-known Chinese lawyers and activists from across the country have vanished, been interrogated or criminally detained for subversion in a recent crackdown.

The International Campaign for Tibet reported Friday that paramilitary police raided the Kirti Monastery in Sichuan province Thursday night and took 300 monks to an undisclosed location. The group said police beat to death two Tibetan villagers in their 60s who tried to protect the monks.

The U.S. State Department said last week that China's use of force at the monastery to block demonstrations by monks was inconsistent with freedom of religion and human rights. China's Foreign Ministry has said conditions at the facility are normal and called the U.S. remarks "irresponsible."

The Tibetan government also asked for the issue to be raised during the United States' and China's annual meeting on human rights next week.