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"As long as human rights are violated, there can be no foundation for peace. How can peace grow where speaking the truth is itself a crime?"

As Olympics Approach, Oppressive Grip Tightens

July 10, 2008

By Ally Wang, Mimi Li, and Shaoshao Chen
The Epoch Times (USA)
July 9, 2008

NEW YORK -- In less than 30 days, Beijing will kick off its opening
ceremonies for the 2008 Olympics. While China prepares for its
appearance on the world's center stage, the Tibetans, Uighurs, Falun
Gong practitioners, and political dissidents of China will
undoubtedly suffer 30 days of persecution and oppression.

These groups who are denied rights by the Chinese regime cannot have
their voices heard in China. But here in America, where freedom of
speech is not muffled, protests and calls for human rights have
strengthened recently as the start of Beijing '08 draws closer.

THE UNLUCKY EIGHT

Eight is generally considered a lucky number in Chinese culture, but
members of the "POC 8"—eight select prisoners of conscience in
China—can't exactly consider themselves lucky. The POC 8, which
according to Reporters Without Borders, includes Huang Qi, Sun Lin,
Qi Chonghuai, Hu Jia, Yang Chunlin, Chen Guangcheng, Shi Tao and Yang
Zili, were the highlight of a July 8 global appeal for their release.

Representatives of Reporters Without Borders, Initiatives for China,
and New York officials gathered at New York's City Hall Tuesday to
speak out for the POC 8 and to call for their release.

"They are innocent," said Lucie Morillon from Reporters Without
Borders, "They didn't do anything wrong. The only thing they wanted
to do was to peacefully speak their mind. Their ultimate goal was to
improve the status of human rights and the status of people in China."

According to Baiqiao Tang, Tiananmen survivor and director of China
Peace and Democracy Federation, there are documented 732 political
prisoners in China right now. But that number is nowhere near the real number.

Prominent Tiananmen Square activist Jianli Yang experienced
first-hand being locked away in a Chinese prison, and was released
only last year.

"Since my release, I cannot forget for one second the thousands and
thousands of political prisoners I have left behind," Yang said.

Yang told the story of Bingjiang Wang, another political prisoner who
is the founder of the overseas Chinese democracy movement and was
abducted in 2006. He was held for six months before his arrest was
even announced. He was later sentenced to life in prison.

"Dr. Wang, in his 60s, is in deteriorating health and is languishing
in a Chinese prison without hope," said Yang. "He and his family, and
many many more political prisoners and their families need our help!"

FALUN GONG ROUNDUPS

While Chinese officials are keeping political dissidents in jail,
Chinese police are busy rounding up Falun Gong practitioners and
transporting them to labor camps, sometimes without trial. According
to the Falun Dafa Information Center (FDIC), more than 200 Falun Gong
adherents have been arrested in Beijing alone, and more than 30 have
already been sentenced to "re-education through labor" camps without
trial. Labor camp sentences are lasting up to two and a half years.

"The fact that these people are being sentenced to such long terms
shows that these arrests are not about ensuring a 'harmonious
Olympics' as Party officials may try to claim," said FDIC spokesman
Erping Zhang in a related statement. "Although Falun Gong adherents
pose no threat whatsoever to the games, the Olympics are being taken
as an excuse to put them behind bars for years."

Chinese police are conducting not only warrant-less, door-to-door
arrests, but are also targeting areas where Olympic events are being
held, such as in Beijing's Chaoyang District, which hosts soccer and
swimming events, and Haidian District, which hosts basketball and
volleyball events. The arrested are then often sentenced in sham
trials, and families are notified months after the sentence.

"Given the large percentage of people who have already been sent to
labor camps, the dozens currently filling Beijng's detention centers
are at grave risk of wrongful sentencing," said Zhang. "It is now
imperative that the international community leverage real pressure
and stop these deplorable actions, lest the legacy of the 2008
Olympics be hundreds of Beijing residents languishing in labor camps."

TERROR IN TIBET

The crackdown on Tibet by the Chinese communist regime also
intensified recently as more than 1,000 Tibetan monks were arrested
and detained to suppress potential protests during the Olympics. The
organization Students for a Free Tibet and its sources in eastern
Tibet confirmed that three central monasteries around Lhasa, the
capital of Tibet, were emptied and the monks sent either 600 miles
away to Gormo or even further to Xining on the Eastern Tibetan border.

The British newspaper The Times reported that the monks that were
taken into custody will be released after the Beijing Olympic Games.

"The Chinese government has locked up over a thousand Buddhist monks
in Tibet to crush any sign of dissent during the Olympics," said
Lhadon Tethong, Executive Director of Students for a Free Tibet, via
a press release. "This is the latest in a series of Beijing's
despicable acts that use the Olympics as an excuse to crack down on
Tibetan cries for human rights and freedom."

Tenzin Dorjee, Deputy Director of Students for a Free Tibet, said in
a press release, "The Chinese authorities are planning to perpetrate
a massive fraud during the Olympics, attempting to convince the world
that all is well while Tibetans continue to suffer under China's
brutal occupation."

The arrests of Tibetan monks follows the slew of recent events
involving the Chinese regime tightening their iron fist on the
autonomous region. In March, Tibetan protests turned violent. Dozens
of deaths were reported after the Chinese military brought Lhasa and
other parts of Tibet under martial law. They continued that stratagem
two weeks ago when Chinese troops inundated the streets of Lhasa
while the Olympic torch was paraded through Tibet.

The press conference at New York's City Hall included Tibetan
activists, such as Phurdu Dorjee. Dorjee is a native Tibetan who has
seen the Chinese Communist Party constantly tyrannize his homeland
and his people.

"The Panchen Lama, the second highest religious figure of Tibet, was
imprisoned when he was just a six-year-old boy. Is this not a
violation of human rights?" he said. "Since 1949, we have lost 1.2
million Tibetans. Is this not the clear cut truth that [the CCP] is
guilty of genocide in Tibet?

And has this genocide stopped? No!"

He further urged, "Tibetans are peace loving and nonviolent, and they
are suffering at the hands of the Chinese government."

Calls for the Bush administration and the international community to
condemn these actions have largely been ignored.

"We are extremely disappointed that President Bush and other world
leaders are turning a blind eye to the suffering of the Tibetan
people and are attending the Olympics opening ceremonies," said Han
Shan, Olympics Campaign Coordinator for Students for a Free Tibet.

CHANGING CHINA

When Beijing won the rights to host the 2008 Olympics in 2001, the
Chinese government made a promise to the International Olympic
Committee and the international community to concretely improve human
rights. But those promises have for the most part been empty.

"We've been waiting for the improvement of human rights we've been
promised. We've been waiting for the complete freedom of the press
we've been promised," said Morillon, of Reporters Without Borders.

Jianli Yang commented that "there are two Chinas in China: one China
is the China the Chinese government is trying to showcase to the
outside world and its citizens; the other China is the China that the
government does not want us to see."

It is for that reason that the outside world must look through the
mask that China has put on and persevere in demanding rights, said
Jeremy Taylor, host of the cable show Step Up.

"Stop supporting a government that commits genocide against its own
people," said Taylor. "Stop supporting a government that commits
genocide against Tibet and against Burma. Stop supporting a
government that protects the world's worst perpetrators, including
Kim Jong-Il and Robert Mugabe."

Regarding the abuses by the Chinese Communist Party, Shan said, "It's
truly disgusting and should be a call to all political leaders, all
nations, the U.N., and appropriate institutions to say enough is enough."
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