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Advancing a peaceful transition to democracy in China through truth, understanding, citizen power, & cooperative action

Twelfth annual InterEthnic/InterFaith Leadership Conference to be held in Tokyo, Japan, 14-17 November.

Press Advisory

Twelfth annual InterEthnic/InterFaith Leadership Conference to be held in Tokyo, Japan, 14-17 November.

The 12th InterEthnic/InterFaith Leadership Conference, organized by Initiatives for China (aka Citizen Power), will be held at the National Olympics Memorial Youth Center in Tokyo, Japan on November 14-17, 2017. The theme of this year’s Conference is “Advancing Human Rights, Democracy and Peace: New Tools, New Strategies, New Generation”.

The annual InterEthnic/InterFaith Leadership Conference was established in 2000 by Dr. Yang Jianli, the founder and president of Initiatives for China, during his chairmanship of the Foundation for China in the 21st Century. The Conference has received guidance and encouragement from Tibetan spiritual leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and is financially supported by the US National Endowment for Democracy, Taiwan Foundation for Democracy and other non-governmental organizations. Each year, the InterEthnic/InterFaith Leadership Conference brings together young human rights leaders from China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macao who come from a diverse set of ethnic groups (including Han Chinese, Tibetans, Uyghurs, and Mongolians, among others) and faiths (including Christians, Falun Gong practitioners, Buddhists, and Muslims). Through its commitment to eliminating misunderstanding and hatred, and increasing mutual understanding and friendship, the Conference seeks to form a united front to promote a peaceful democratic transformation in China. As Dr. Yang Jianli said in his opening remarks at the first Conference, “It is the first time in history” that so many different ethnic, geographical and religious groups have gathered voluntarily without coercion. The previous 11 conferences were held in the United States, Taiwan, and India, as well as various other countries and regions.

This year, the 12th InterEthnic/InterFaith Leadership Conference will bring together approximately 60 human rights activists from around the world (including from China) representing the aforementioned groups. Participants will have the chance to listen to lectures, take part in seminars, and receive in-depth training. Speakers will include President Donald Trump’s former chief strategist Steve Bannon, Australian MP Michael Danby, Japanese MPs, former Japanese MP Makino Seishu, the Dalai Lama’s East Asian representative Lung Tok, as well as scholars from Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, Australia, Switzerland, the United States, Canada and Germany. In addition, video presentations and written speeches from lawmakers in the United States, Canada, Taiwan and South Korea will be played or read at the opening ceremony. The three newly released student leaders of the Hong Kong Umbrella Movement will also send their video greetings to the conference.

Guest presentations and seminars will focus on three topics: new dilemmas and new opportunities, following the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, for the aforementioned groups represented at the Conference; the Chinese Communist Party’s influence on, and threat to, the Asia-Pacific region; and (3) forging an alliance of Asian democracies.

The Conference’s training activities will focus on three areas: how to take advantage of the UN’s mechanisms for protecting human rights; how to promote Magnitsky Act-type legislation in democratic countries; and how to investigate human rights violations and cases of corruption. On the basis of this training, Magnitsky Act-type laws will be promoted worldwide, creating a legal framework of accountability and punishment for Chinese officials who violate human rights.

The Conference will also feature the 2017 Citizen Power Awards Ceremony, which will be held at the First Assembly Hall of the House of Representatives on November 16, 4:00-6:00pm JST. The three recipients are: Ms. Wang Qiaoling, who represents the families of the “709” victims; Mr. Ilham Tohti, a Uyghur scholar and prisoner of conscience who is currently serving life imprisonment in Xinjiang; and Mr. Makino Seishu, a vocal Japanese supporter of human rights in China. In 2015, Initiatives for China established the Citizen Power Award, in recognition of individuals and organizations from China and around the world who have helped to promote and advance democracy and human rights in China.

The opening ceremony of the 12th InterEthnic/InterFaith Leadership Conference will take place on November 14, 7:00-10:00pm JST at the International Conference Hall of the National Olympics Memorial Youth Center in Tokyo, Japan (address: 3-1 Yoyogi Kamizono-cho, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 151-0052). Speeches and seminars will be held in Conference Room 401 in the aforementioned Center’s main building.

The opening ceremony, lectures, seminars, and Citizen Power Awards Ceremony will be broadcast live at www.youtube.com/channel/UC2Gz65rU_l-9UcHAV9MsVpg.

The 12th InterEthnic/InterFaith Leadership Conference is co-organized by the Human Rights Foundation of Japan, the Forum for a Democratic China and Asia (Germeny), the Uyghur Human Rights Project, the Tibet Legal Association, the Southern Mongolian Human Rights Information Center, and the International Chinese-Tibetan Association. The Conference is sponsored by the US National Endowment for Democracy and the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy.
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