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"Canada can, within a positive friendly atmosphere, ask the Chinese government to resolve the Tibetan situation."

Crackdown continues for Chinese human rights activists, with no Olympic truce during games

August 15, 2008

Reporters Without Borders
August 13, 2008

The start of the Olympic Games has done nothing to help Chinese human
rights activists, who continue to be arrested, watched or threatened.
At the same time, incidents involving foreign journalists, including
an attack today on a British TV reporter working for ITV, shows that
the security services are still preventing the foreign press from
working freely.

To illustrate this, Reporters Without Borders today offers the
comments of a foreign reporter about surveillance and harassment by
the Chinese police.

"In view of the many incidents, we call on the International Olympic
Committee to intercede on behalf of the Chinese citizens who are in
danger because of the position they have taken during the Olympic
Games," Reporters Without Borders said.

"It is the duty of the Olympic movement in its entirety to ensure
respect for the spirit of the Olympic truce," the organisation added.
"Since the origins of the Olympics, tradition has required that peace
should prevail during the games."

The IOC website has this to say about the Olympic truce in ancient
Greece: "During the truce period, the athletes, artists and their
families, as well as ordinary pilgrims, could travel in total safety
to participate in or attend the Olympic Games and return afterwards
to their respective countries. (...) The International Olympic
Committee (IOC) decided to revive the ancient concept of the Olympic
Truce with the view (...) to encourage searching for peaceful and
diplomatic solutions to the conflicts around the world."

John Ray of the British television news service ITN was today
covering a protest by several foreign activists who unfurled a
pro-Tibet banner near Beijing's main Olympic zone, when he was
arrested by police, dragged along the ground and forcibly restrained
for about 20 minutes although he identified himself as a journalist.
"This was an assault in my mind, I am incredibly angry about this,"
Ray told Agence France Presse.

The Foreign Correspondents Club of China (FCCC) says there have been
five incidents since 7 August. In one of these incidents, police
arrested two Associated Press reporters in the northwestern province
of Xinjiang and erased the photos they had taken. One of them was
arrested while watching the opening ceremony on TV. Two Scandinavian
journalists were prevented from interviewing peasants in Hebei
province about the impact of the games on their activities.

A European journalist who has been working in Beijing for several
years has given Reporters Without Borders a gripping description of
what it is like for her and her colleagues in Beijing, and the risks
run by Chinese who dare to speak to the foreign press.

"They don't stop following me, filming me and photographing me," she
said. "I think twice before interviewing Chinese about sensitive
issues for fear that they could be arrested (...) Last week several
Chinese were arrested after giving me interviews. Firstly, people
living in the Qianmen district that is in the process of being
renovated. They included a woman in charge of an association of
evicted residents who sued the government for not paying them enough
compensation. The trial began in July but was postponed because of
the Olympics. I interviewed her, as other journalists did. Since then
she has been detained.

"The same thing happened with the pastor of an unrecognised church.
Finally, a British woman of Tibetan origin was arrested and expelled
after giving me an interview. Under these circumstances, we are all
forced to censor ourselves and to refuse to interview certain Chinese
for fear of their being immediately arrested. We are all in this
situation of intimidation, which makes it very hard for us to work in
China, despite the overall improvements.

"What's more, the official media have not stopped attacking us since
last March's events in Tibet. In addition to the death threats
received by dozens of foreign journalists, the Chinese media try to
undermine our credibility. And all of this gained pace in the run-up
to the games."

She is right about Chinese being arrested for talking to the foreign
media. Zhang Wei, a former resident of the Beijing district of
Qianmen, was arrested on 9 August after filing a request for
permission to protest about her family's eviction two years ago to
make way for Olympic construction. The Associated Press quotes her
son as saying she is to be held for a month for "disrupting the
social order." The Public Security Bureau said it was looking at her
case and had no other comment to make.

Other Chinese are being hounded by the authorities, who fear they
could protest during the games. There has been no news since 7 August
of Zeng Jinyan, the wife of imprisoned activist Hu Jia, and their
seven-month-old daughter. Her mother in law said to several
Chinese-language news outlets say she may has been forced her to
leave the capital. She had been under permanent police surveillance
for several years in the "Freedom" residential area where she lives.

Some Beijing intellectuals such as Liu Xiaobo and Yu Jie have not
been detained, but are under police surveillance. Wan Yanhai, the
head of an NGO that cares for AIDS sufferers, chose to leave Beijing
during the games to avoid being harassed by the police.

Hua Huiqi, the head of an unrecognised protestant church, was
arrested in Beijing on 9 August while on his way to a church service
that was attended by US President George W. Bush. His brother -
arrested at the same time but freed a few hours later - says he has
had no news of Hua since then. The police deny ever arresting Hua and
claim they had no role in his disappearance. Human Rights in China
meanwhile says it got a short letter in which Hua apparently recounts
his arrest and subsequent escape.

Ji Sizun, a human rights activist form Fujian province, was arrested
on 11 August for filing a request several days earlier for permission
to demonstrate in one for the areas designated by the Beijing
authorities for protests. Human Rights Watch says Ji wanted to
organise a rally to protest against corruption and to call for more
citizen participation in government decisions.

According to HRW, several other Chinese have been arrested or
threatened for filing demonstration requests. They include relatives
of children killed in the collapse of "tofu" (shoddily-built) schools
in the May earthquake in Sichuan. The Washington Post reports that
families were prevent from boarding flights in the Sichuan capital of Chengdu.

Several members of the outlawed China Democracy Party were arrested
in the days preceding the games opening ceremony. According to
Chinese Human Rights Defenders, Xie Changfa of Hunan province was
arrested on 2 August, while Wang Rongqing, 65, of Zhejiang province
was arrested on 31 July. They have been charged with inciting
subversion of state authority.

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