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    07 July 2009

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    Obama wants Russia to respect human rights

    Barack Obama has called on Russia to help forge a new global partnership to overcome Cold War mistrust.

    In a wide ranging keynote speech to Moscow’s New Economic School, the US President also said that freedom of speech and assembly are among universal rights that must be protected and encouraged.

    “Freedom of speech and assembly has allowed women, minorities, and workers to protest for full and equal rights at a time when we were denied the rule of law and equal administration of justice has busted monopolies, shut down political machines, and ended abuses of power,” he said.

    “If our democracy did not advance those rights, than I, as a person of African ancestry, wouldn’t be able to address you as an American citizen, much less a President,” he added.

    Obama was careful not to criticise the Kremlin directly but his comments are likely to be welcomed by Russia’s pro-Western opposition

    China moves to quell Uighur protests

    China has now imposed a curfew in the mainly Muslim region of Xinjiang.

    The announcement was made by the city’s communist boss Li Zhi in a televised speech.

    In a sign of government alarm over the outpouring of anger, Li Zhi rode through the streets on the top of a police vehicle, using a bullhorn to beg protesters to calm down and go home.

    Xinjiang has long been a hotbed of ethnic tensions, fostered by a yawning economic gap between Uighurs and Han Chinese, government policies on religion and culture, and an influx of Han Chinese migrants, who now are in the majority in most key cities.

    Han Chinese seek revenge

    Thousands of Han Chinese have taken to the streets to counter protests by Uighurs as ethnic tensions increase in northwestern China.

    Armed with rocks, axes or wooden clubs, crowds stopped to smash Uighur businesses as they marched through the capital, Urumqi.

    The vastly outnumbered police fired tear gas to curb the violence but their efforts had little if any impact.

    It follows Sunday’s riots that left more than 150 people dead and a thousand others injured.

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