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China: Olympics Harm Key Human Rights

August 8, 2008

For Immediate Release
Chinese Government, IOC Wasted Historic Opportunity for Reform
Human Rights Watch
August 6, 2008

New York -- The 2008 Beijing Olympics will open tainted by a sharp
increase in human rights abuses directly linked to China's
preparations for the games, Human Rights Watch said today. The games
open on August 8, 2008.

The run-up to the Beijing Olympics has been marred by a
well-documented surge in violations of the rights of free expression
and association, as well as media freedom. In addition, abuses of
migrant construction workers who were pivotal to Beijing's
infrastructure improvements have increased, as have evictions of
Beijing residents whose homes were demolished to make way for that
infrastructure. Those abuses reflect both the Chinese government's
wholesale failure to honor its Olympics-related human rights
promises, as well as the negligence of the International Olympic
Committee (IOC) in ensuring that China fulfills its commitments.

"The Chinese government and the International Olympic Committee have
had seven years to deliver on their pledges that these games would
further human rights," said Sophie Richardson, Asia advocacy director
for Human Rights Watch. "Instead, the Beijing Games have prompted a
rollback in some of the most basic rights enshrined in China's
constitution and international law."

Human Rights Watch pointed particularly to the following ongoing
abuses and some of their most recent victims:

* The silencing of Chinese citizens who express concerns about
Olympics-related rights abuses through intimidation, imprisonment,
and the use of house arrest. For example, Ye Guozhu, a 53-year-old
housing rights activist, remains in prison despite having completed
his four-year prison sentence in July 2008. After attempting to
organize protests against forced evictions related to the Beijing
Olympics, Ye was convicted on December 18, 2004, on charges of
"suspicion of disturbing social order." Ye's family has said they
believe the government will hold him until after the games to prevent
him from speaking freely.

* Evictions and demolitions for Olympics-related infrastructure.
Hundreds of thousands of residents have been evicted and their homes
demolished in the course of Beijing's makeover. Ni Yulan, a
47-year-old lawyer who was disbarred and imprisoned for her work
defending the rights of those forcibly evicted in Beijing and
crippled by beatings she suffered in prison, is now awaiting trial on
charges of "obstructing a public official" (Article 277 of the
Criminal Law), which carries a maximum sentence of three years in
prison. During the incident in question, Ni was resisting the
demolition of her own home when she was hit on the head with a brick
and dragged to the ground.

* Hundreds of cases of harassment and restriction of foreign media
from reporting freely, in violation of China's Olympic pledge and
temporary regulations in effect from January 2007 to October 2008.
The Chinese government continues to severely restrict the foreign
media's access to Tibet since violence flared in Lhasa in mid-March.
The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which is responsible for the
security of all foreign journalists in China, also continues to
refuse to investigate death threats made against foreign
correspondents in the wake of a state media-driven vilification
campaign of "western media bias" following the Lhasa violence.

* An intensifying crackdown on "undesirables" and removal from
Beijing of migrant workers, beggars, sex workers, and petitioners
(residents from the countryside seeking redress for abuses at the
grassroots level), among others. Despite its insistence that these
would be the "greenest" games in history, in July 2008, the Beijing
municipal government ordered tens of thousands of migrant workers who
work as garbage recyclers to leave the city ahead of the Olympics.


"The Chinese government and the International Olympic Committee have
wasted a historic opportunity to use the Beijing Games to make real
progress on human rights in China," said Richardson. "That failure
has damaged the prospects for a legacy of enhanced media freedom,
greater tolerance for dissent, and respect for the rule of law."

Instead, the Chinese government has concentrated its energies on
smothering the voices of those who have spoken out publicly about the
need for greater tolerance for and development of human rights.

Those citizens include:

* Yang Chunlin, a land rights activist from Heilongjiang province.
Yang was arrested in July 2007 for his involvement in a petition
against illegal land seizures by officials and for writing essays
denouncing official wrongdoings. Yang, who had collected more than
10,000 signatures for his petition, titled "We want human rights, not
the Olympics," was charged with "inciting subversion of state power."
On March 24, 2008, Yang was sentenced to five years in prison after a
trial which lasted less than a day and failed to meet minimum
standards of due process.
* Hu Jia, a Beijing-based human rights activist who has worked on
numerous issues including AIDS advocacy. Hu was one of 42 Chinese
intellectuals and activists who co-signed an open letter, "One World,
One Dream: Universal Human Rights," calling for greater attention to
human rights in China. On April 3, Hu was found guilty of "inciting
subversion of state power," and sentenced to three and a half years
in prison, as well as one additional year of deprivation of political
rights. His wife and fellow activist Zeng Jinyan has been under house
arrest in Beijing since May 17, 2007, along with their baby daughter, Qianci.
* Huang Qi, a veteran dissident and founder of www.64tianwang.com, a
website dedicated to publicizing alleged human rights abuses which
occur across China. Huang was detained on June 10, 2008 in Chengdu
while investigating allegations that shoddy construction had
contributed to the collapse of schools in the March 12 Sichuan
earthquake. He was formally charged with "possessing state secrets" on July 18.
* Teng Biao, one of several Beijing lawyers, including Zhang Jiankang
and Jiang Tianyong, who lost their licenses to practice law as an
official reprisal for publicly offering to defend Tibetan suspects
arrested in the wake of the Lhasa riots in March. Teng Biao first
became a target for official punishment due to a letter he co-wrote
with Hu Jia in September 2007. The letter was a stinging indictment
of the Chinese government's failure to deliver on its promises to the
IOC to develop human rights in China ahead of the 2008 Olympics.
"When you come to the Olympic Games in Beijing -- you may not know
that the flowers, smiles, harmony and prosperity are built on a base
of grievances, tears, imprisonment, torture and blood," they wrote.
* Chen Guangcheng, a blind lawyer who in June 2005 filed a
class-action lawsuit accusing officials in Linyi, a city in Shandong
province, of seeking to enforce restrictive population control laws
by subjecting thousands of people to late-term forced abortions,
compulsory sterilization, midnight raids, and beatings. In
retaliation, on June 21, 2006, the Yinan County People's
Procuratorate formally arrested Chen on charges of damaging property
and assembling a crowd to disrupt traffic. On August 24, 2006, Chen
was found guilty of these charges and sentenced to four years and
three months in prison. Chen's final appeal was rejected on January
12, 2007 by Linyi Intermediate Court.

"The crackdown on activists, the increase in evictions, the
harassment of journalists, and the 'sweeps' from Beijing are all
worsening because of the Olympics," Richardson said.  "Only by
releasing these people and ending this intimidation can the Chinese
government and the IOC salvage the integrity of the Olympics."

For more Human Rights Watch reporting on the human rights situation
in China ahead of the Beijing Olympics, please visit:
http://china.hrw.org/

For more information, please contact:
In Hong Kong, Phelim Kine (English, Mandarin): +852-6604-9792 (mobile)
In Hong Kong, Nicholas Bequelin (English, French, Mandarin):
+852-8198-1040 (mobile)
In Washington, DC, Sophie Richardson (English, Mandarin):
+1-202-612-4341; or +1-917-721-7473 (mobile)
In London, Brad Adams (English): +44-20-7713-2767; or +44-790-872-8333 (mobile)
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