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"I believe that to meet the challenges of our times, human beings will have to develop a greater sense of universal responsibility. It is the foundation for world peace."

Reuters

July 30, 2008

By James Pomfret
Reuters
July 28, 2008

HONG KONG, July 29 (Reuters) -- Rights group Amnesty International
slammed China for failing to honour its Olympic human rights pledges
in a report summarising Beijing's "deteriorating" record over the
past seven years.

With just over a week to go before the Games kick off in Beijing's
bird's nest stadium on Aug. 8, Amnesty on Tuesday gave a scathing
assessment of China's track record since 2001, when it won the right
to host the 2008 Olympics amid pledges to improve its human rights
performance in line with Olympic ideals.

"There has been no progress towards fulfilling these promises, only
continued deterioration," said Amnesty in the report, titled "The
Olympics countdown -- broken promises".

"The authorities have used the Olympic Games as pretext to continue,
and in some respects, intensify existing policies and practices which
have led to serious and widespread violations of human rights," it
said in the report released in Hong Kong.

Amnesty said Chinese authorities had targetted human rights
defenders, journalists and lawyers to "silence dissent" ahead of the
Games, jailing the likes of Hu Jia, Ye Guozhu and Yang Chunlin and
often intimidating their families.

"China really needs to be releasing human rights activists, in order
to be showing it's following through with its promises," said Mark
Allison, a China researcher for Amnesty in Hong Kong.

The International Olympic Committee was also blamed for failing to
put more pressure on China and for "sending a message that it is
acceptable for a government to host the Olympic Games in an
atmosphere characterised by repression and persecution".

The spring unrest in Tibet and subsequent crackdown was highlighted
as an instance of China overstepping its bounds in persecuting people
without charge, and of shutting out foreign reporters in violation of
its promise to grant full media freedoms for foreign journalists in
the run-up to the Games.

Sichuan's earthquake was also cited as a lost opportunity, with the
initial climate of media openness later strangled off amid tightened
controls as reporters probed official corruption.

Internet censorship and regulation had also been "increasingly
tightened" as the Olympics approach, with journalists working in the
Olympic media centre unable to access websites, including those of
Amnesty and certain foreign media.

The report did note however that China had made some progress with
death penalty reforms and to partially broaden the scope of foreign
media coverage in China.

The report called on China to free all prisoners of conscience
immediately, allow full media freedoms and to halt the "clean-up" of dissent.

"Unless the authorities make a swift change of direction, the legacy
of the Beijing Olympics will not be positive for human rights in
China," it said. (Reporting by James Pomfret; Editing by Paul Tait)

(For more stories visit our multimedia website "Road to Beijing" at
http://www.reuters.com/news/sports/2008olympics; and see our blog at
http://blogs.reuters.com/china)
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