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Activists Step Up Criticism of China, One Year Before Beijing
11. Activists Step Up Criticism of China, One Year Before Beijing
By Stephanie Ho
07 August 2007
With one year to go before Beijing hosts the 2008 Olympic games,
activists are taking advantage of the growing international attention on
the Beijing Olympics to highlight a range of issues, from human rights
abuses in China to its perceived closeness to the government of Sudan.
VOA's Stephanie Ho reports from Washington.
China has said it does not want next year's Beijing Olympics to be
manipulated by politics. That warning has not stopped international
activists, who are marking the one year countdown with a host of
activities, including a bike ride protest in New York City Tuesday. The
event's sponsor, the group Reporters Without Borders, is sharply
critical of China's human rights record and repression of free speech.
Bike ride captain Mark Davis says the riders are carrying large,
eye-catching billboards that say "Beijing 2008" and show the five
interlocking Olympic rings as handcuffs. "In New York, everyone has seen
everything. So, we need to come and do things differently," he said.
Chinese authorities briefly detained more than ten foreign journalists
Monday, following a rare protest in Beijing by officials of Reporters
The London-based human rights group Amnesty International issued a
report Tuesday, urging China to live up to promises it made several
years ago when it bid to host the 2008 Olympics. It told the
International Olympic Committee it would improve its human rights record.
"China did a very interesting thing. When they were bidding, they
promised that if they win (are named host of) the Olympics, they will
improve human rights. Three senior officials repeatedly mentioned the
commitment that they will improve human rights. So, in a nutshell, China
linked human rights to Olympics," said Amnesty's T. Kumar. He said his
organization is focusing on areas where it believes China can make what
he called "meaningful" and "achievable" human rights improvements.
Amnesty is urging China to abolish the re-education through labor
system, and extend media freedom to all journalists, foreign and
domestic. The group is also calling on Beijing to release people who
have been imprisoned for human rights reasons.
Kumar says his group also wants China to reduce the number of criminal
violations that are eligible for the death penalty. He said China is
responsible for 80 percent of the world's executions. "So, China is
already a champion in executions. So, if you want to give a gold medal,
give China a gold medal for executions and human rights abuses."
Some activists are also trying to use the world's interest in the
Beijing Olympics to focus attention on China's relations with countries
that have questionable human rights records.
Backers of a campaign called "Olympic Dream for Darfur" are organizing
their own torch relay race, which will be launched by American actress
and U.N. Goodwill Ambassador Mia Farrow. It starts this week, near the
war-torn Darfur region in western Sudan, and is set to end in Hong Kong
A spokesman for Olympic Dream for Darfur, Matt Chandler, says his group
believes China should use its economic and political ties with Sudan to
do more to end the violence in Darfur. "The "One World, One Dream" theme
of the Beijing Olympics will certainly seem perversely ironic if images
of the dead and dying in Darfur are juxtaposed with the games," he said.
For four years, ethnic African rebels in Darfur have been fighting
government-backed Arab janjaweed militias. The janjaweed have been
accused of terrorizing villagers and committing atrocities including
murder and rape. More than 200,000 people have died in the conflict.
More than two million others have been driven from their homes.
China is Sudan's largest foreign investor and has blocked harsh U.N.
action against Khartoum.
Articles in this Issue:
- Tibetan Canadian Observer detained in Beijing (SFT)
- One World, One Dream, One Big Human Rights Problem (Der Spiegel)
- Unlucky start to Games countdown (Scotsman)
- Great Wall protest (Vancouver Sun)
- China detains third Canadian, a leader of activist group seeking free
- 3rd Canadian detained by China, student group says (CBC)
- Activists arrested in China (The Province)
- Protesters in action as Beijing gets set for one-year countdown to
- Parents worried after 2 Vancouverites reportedly held in China (CBC)
- Canadians detained in China now leaving country, reports say
- Activists Step Up Criticism of China, One Year Before Beijing
- Beijing Olympics can't avoid political issues (New Zealand Herald)
- China: Human-Rights Pressure Increases As Olympic Countdown Begins
- Thousands of Tibetans march in Indian capital against China's rule
in Tibet (AP)
- Tibetans protest 2008 Beijing Olympics (ANI)
- Tibetans to hold massive rally against Chinese government (IANS)
- Indian Tibetans march to shame Olympics host China (Reuters)
- Terror in Tibet
- Sinopec establishes exploration base in Tibet
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