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China: Human-Rights Pressure Increases As Olympic Countdown Begins
13. China: Human-Rights Pressure Increases As Olympic Countdown Begins
By Breffni O'Rourke
August 7, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- There is exactly one year to go before the
start of the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, and international rights
groups are marking the occasion with calls for the Chinese authorities
to live up to their promises to improve human rights.
In the latest action, the Free Tibet Campaign held a spectacular
demonstration on the Great Wall of China. Six activists abseiled from
the top of the Great Wall, unfurling a giant 42-square-meter banner as
they descended. The banner bore the message in Chinese and English: "One
World, One Dream, Free Tibet 2008."
The demonstration on August 6 lasted two hours before Chinese
authorities took away the banner and the activists. The whereabouts of
the six -- comprising Americans, Canadians, and a Briton -- are not known.
China As 'Free, Modern, Open'
The organizers of the protest, the London-based group Students For A
Free Tibet (SFT), said today that the Chinese government is exploiting
the Olympics to gain acceptance as a world power.
"China is using every opportunity that the Olympics provides to promote
itself as a modern, free, and open society, and when it does that of
course, it diverts attention away from its brutal occupation of Tibet,
which has been ongoing for about 60 years now," spokesman Matt
Whitticase told RFE/RL from Hong Kong.
Whitticase said that by protesting at the Great Wall, which he called
the most recognizable symbol of China's nationhood, SFT was sending a
message that China's dream of international leadership cannot be
realized while it continues its occupation of Tibet.
Whitticase recalled that the head of the Swiss-based International
Olympic Committee (IOC), Jacques Rogge, promised that the IOC would
ensure China improved its rights record.
"The IOC famously promised us, when it gave China the games, that
human-rights abuses would get less and less [frequent], but actually,
since 2005, we have seen an increase in repression of Tibetan Buddhism,"
Press Crackdown Continues
Not only Tibet activists have noted the upsurge of rights abuses as
China gears up for the Olympic Games.
London-based Amnesty International says in a report issued on August 6
that Beijing is violating pledges made in the Olympic bidding process by
increasing surveillance of religious and political dissidents, jailing
journalists, and closing publications dealing with social development.
In Paris, the press-rights group Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is
calling for pressure on Jacques Rogge. "It's time now to ask the IOC to
do something, to itself call on the Chinese authorities to release about
100 journalists, Internet users, and cyberdissidents currently jailed in
China," RSF spokesman Jean-Francois Juillard said.
Juillard cast doubt on China's sincerity in the first place in
suggesting the situation would improve. "They said they would improve
the situation, but in fact that's not true, because journalists are
still detained, censorship is still going on, hundreds of websites are
still blocked, so nothing has improved," he said.
The IOC was unavailable to answer questions as to whether Rogge would
raise the issue of human rights with the Chinese government, nor whether
the IOC shares the common perception that rights observance in China is
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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