Monday, December 25, 2006
FUTURE generations will not understand why today's great powers chattered away at the United Nations over the genocidal annihilation of hundreds of thousands of African villagers in Darfur, but took no effective action to stop it. And now, in this holiday season, attacks on aid workers in that region of Sudan and the spillover of horrors into neighboring Chad raise the specter of millions of new victims perishing in the near future. For this is surely what will happen if the great powers go on lamenting the Darfur massacres while refusing to rescue the men, women, and children who are marked for death in the coming year.
….But if China persists in its complicity with the regime in Khartoum, grass-roots groups around the world ought to brand the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing as the genocide Olympics, as professor Eric Reeves of Smith College recently proposed on the Globe op-ed page. Future generations will understand the protesters' reason for disrupting the ceremonial serenity of the Olympics. (more)
Friday, December 22, 2006
Christians face up to more trouble in Beijing. There's an old saying: "A courageous man is full of faith"... I hope they never give up their fight for religious freedom.
Beijing (AsiaNews) – A group of policemen and unidentified persons broke into the home of Xiu Ruibin, a house church missionary in Beijing, beat people in the house and destroyed the furniture. Before the attack two other church leaders were put under house arrest in Xiaoshan on the eve of the court trial of 8 Christian leaders “guilty” of having protested against the destruction of their church, this according to the China Aid Association (CAA), a US-based NGO fighting for religious freedom in China. (more)
Thursday, December 21, 2006
Lev Navrozov speaks about the influence of Christianity and underground religions in China as he reviews books from Alvin Schmidt and Dr. Aikman. Religious deterioration alone should be reason enough for the 2008 Beijing Olympics to be relocated in a more harmonious environment.
No, they are not if their churches are duly registered.
According to the U.S. Department of State, 8% of the Chinese are Buddhists, 1.4% are Muslims, and 1.6% are Christians, worshiping in officially registered churches.
….On the other hand, the dictators of China have been persecuting furiously Falun Gong members. Why? Because they are so numerous: hence the danger! In the Christian West, it has been assumed that a person’s behavior is determined at least to some extent by his or her “soul,” “psyche,” “the inner world.” In Hebrew Christ was called a rabbi, that is, a teacher—he taught how to be kind, compassionate—to have pity for the weak, sick, defenseless. In China, it has been assumed for millennia that a human being is motivated by the fear of death and even more of torture. Falun Gong followers are so numerous that they can organize themselves and become a dangerous force. This year 40,000 mutinies have been registered in China. But what is dangerous about Christians believing in pity for the weak, sick, defenseless? In one word, the teaching of Confucius, the best-known Chinese thinker, who died in 479 B.C., is GOVERNMENT, and this hardly has anything to do with the teaching of Christ or with Western constitutionalism. (more)
The Legal Aid Group for Gao, Zhisheng and Guo, Feixiong, Beijing, China has prepared an open letter to the President of the IOC urging the Committee to care about human rights in China. According to the news reported the NY Times "The lawyer, Gao Zhisheng, 42, was sentenced to three years in prison but given a five-year reprieve, the official New China News Agency said." (more) Look here for HRW’s letter to the IOC on harassment of human rights lawyers in China.
Please support this effort by signing the open letter to the IOC here:
How much suffering will the 2008 Olympics bring to the people of China for the sole purpose of boosting Beijing's profile in the free world thereby glorifying a brutal dictatorship. This is only the tip of the iceberg. Look here to see a video on land seizures. About 200 villages have been demolished so far to make room for Olympic venues.
dpa German Press Agency Excerpt: Beijing- Officials in Beijing plan to demolish 22 remaining "urban villages", which are home mainly to poor migrants, in a six-month clean-up before the 2008 Olympic Games, state media said on Wednesday. The 22 villages will be razed during a campaign to demolish 3.32 million square metres of "illegal constructions" by the end of June, the Beijing Daily said. (more)
In a letter to the President of the National Olympic Committee, Olympic Watch Chairman, Jan Ruml, reminds the Committee to re-examine China’s poor human rights record and urges the IOC and BOCG officials to take action. Meanwhile look here for another long list of violations.
Olympic Watch Excerpt: As you probably know, the situation in China can hardly be described along these lines. According to all independent monitors, the People’s Republic of China continues to be among the grossest human rights violators in the world. To name just the most obvious violations:
• Executions in China are frequent, while international standards for fair trials are not observed. Until recently, executions were carried out in sports stadiums. While this practice seems to have changed, the Chinese government continues to execute more people than the rest of the world combined. Verified numbers for 2005 speak of 3,400 death sentences and 1,770 executions, while according to some Chinese sources the numbers may actually be as high as 10,000.
• Torture in China is “widespread”, according to the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, who had the opportunity to visit China in 2005 for the first time after years of obstruction from the government.
• The freedom of expression is violated. Despite promises of full press freedom by 2008, which the Beijing bidding committee made during the candidacy process, the Chinese government has in fact been tightening the control of the media and the internet in recent years. Dozens of journalists and internet activists are documented in prison.
• The government of the People’s Republic of China continues to deny talks about autonomy to the Tibetan people, as peacefully requested by the Tibetan government-in-exile and the Dalai Lama. The right to freedom of religion of Tibetan Buddhists, Uyghur Muslims, and Chinese Christians and Falun Gong practitioners is violated.
• The continuing militarization in China is a threat to peace and democratic processes in Taiwan and elsewhere in East and South-East Asia.
Sunday, December 03, 2006
Reporters Without Borders has called "China the world's leading jailer of journalists, with 32 in prison as of last January." There are a lot of mixed views and concerns about this new rule on press freedom for the 200,000 journalists expected to flood China during the 2008 Olympics. Although this rule is sure to please members of the IOC, Reporters without borders remain skeptical and so do I. Here is why.RWB: Reporters Without Borders today hailed a foreign ministry decision, taken under international pressure, to loosen regulations for foreign journalist working in China. From the beginning of next month until October 2008, foreign journalists with accreditation for the Olympic and Paralympic Games will be able to travel freely throughout China, including Tibet and Xinjiang.
“The campaigns against the archaic restrictions on the work of the foreign press have not been in vain,” the press freedom organisation said. “The organisers of the Olympic Games, especially Liu Qi, have kept their promises. But this positive development is eclipsed by today’s appeal court decision to uphold a three-year prison sentence for New York Times researcher Zhao Yan.” (more)
Washington Post: Bob Ctvrtlik, a member of the IOC, said Friday that China's announcement debunked the notion that authorities would not adapt to welcome the Games.
"This is a very important step for us," Ctvrtlik said. "The IOC and the IOC membership received criticism for the decision six years ago" to award the Games to Beijing, "and I think many people at the time said significant changes could not occur. I think this action proves that not to be the case."
BBC: The rules expire after the Olympics and there are doubts about how effectively they will be applied.
Sunday, November 26, 2006
Grim. This is the 2nd article this month from Time's Simon Elegant on the problems that the Beijing bad air quality poses to its citizens killing at least 1000 Chinese a day. A miracle is needed if the 2008 Olympics are to be held there. What to do?
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
BBC: Mr Nowak said torture methods included electric shock batons, cigarette burns, and submersion in pits of water or sewage.
Sunday, November 19, 2006
Beijing's more open handling of the accusations, rather than simply ignoring or denying them, is an attempt to take the wind out of the sails of activists ahead of the 2008 Olympics. Though the report itself may have only minimal impact on China's activities, should the activists follow a tried-and-true pattern of targeting businesses and linking their relations with Beijing to the organ harvesting, a public relations campaign could cause some to rethink their sponsorship of the Beijing Olympics, undermining Beijing's image and cash flow. For China, admitting the problem may or may not be the first step toward addressing it, but it certainly is a way to reduce the potential for organ harvesting accusations to be a tool against corporate sponsorship in Beijing two years down the road.
BTW, Communist China doesn't want to be accused of genocide either. According to the Kilgour-Matas recent investigation report, it would appear that the main source of organs are harvested from unwilling people who belong to the peaceful movement of Falun Gong.
Stratfor: China's Pre-emptive Public Relations
November 17, 2006 19 52 GMT
China is stepping up efforts to deflect continued accusations that the country practices illegal organ harvesting from executed prisoners, including Falun Gong practitioners. Chinese Deputy Health Minister Huang Jiefu has again admitted there is a problem, though he claims it is the work of rogue surgeons, and said Beijing is taking steps to address it. China's more public and open approach is an attempt to deflate the issue before activists use the accusations in campaigns targeting the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Canadian human rights lawyer David Matas and former Canadian Secretary of State for the Asia-Pacific Region David Kilgour published a report in July on allegations of organ harvesting in China, focusing on reported activities against Falun Gong practitioners. The report was requested by the Coalition to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong in China, a nongovernmental organization with offices in Washington, D.C., and Ottawa. More widely circulated since its publication, the report is being cited by pro-Falun Gong activists, human rights activists and those who oppose the Communist Chinese as further indication of China's failings. There are some indications that activists also could use it as a tool to pressure the Chinese government by targeting major sponsors of the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
This is a concern Beijing takes seriously. The Beijing Olympics are intended to showcase China as a modern and "big" nation, one in which the taints of the Maoist era and the 1989 Tiananmen Square incident are distant memories. Beijing wants the Olympics to serve as a focus for investment and as a way to engender social pride and unity. This latter point is critical as the central government struggles with economic and social disparity, corruption and rising domestic frustrations. In the anti-corruption fight, China's leaders have learned that, rather than ignoring or hiding the problem, exposing it reduces pressure and softens the social response.
Beijing is now applying that lesson to the issue of organ harvesting. Chinese Deputy Health Minister Huang Jiefu, a researcher in liver transplant techniques, has been the point man for this effort, and for the past year has been taking the issue public. Most recently, on Nov. 15, Huang spoke at a surgeons' conference in Guangzhou, admitting there was a problem with the harvesting of prisoners' organs, but saying it was limited to rogue surgeons, and not sanctioned by the state. Huang reinforced Beijing's call to end the "under-the-table [organ] business," and noted that most illegal-organ harvesting is done to supply organs to foreign patients -- a big business in China. The Chinese Health Ministry issued new rules on organ donations and transplants in March, which took effect in July, though initial reports suggest there has been only minimal improvement in controlling and monitoring the transplant activities.
Beijing's more open handling of the accusations, rather than simply ignoring or denying them, is an attempt to take the wind out of the sails of activists ahead of the 2008 Olympics. Though the report itself may have only minimal impact on China's activities, should the activists follow a tried-and-true pattern of targeting businesses and linking their relations with Beijing to the organ harvesting, a public relations campaign could cause some to rethink their sponsorship of the Beijing Olympics, undermining Beijing's image and cash flow. For China, admitting the problem may or may not be the first step toward addressing it, but it certainly is a way to reduce the potential for organ harvesting accusations to be a tool against corporate sponsorship in Beijing two years down the road
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
Rick Westhead is putting all the pieces of the puzzle together and shouts: “So much for the IOC's motto, Celebrate Humanity” and I can see why. YOU can help make the right changes happen. Make no mistake, the minute improvements that we might be witnessing right now are very short-term...what about apres the Olympics?
Toronto Star:... It wasn't supposed to be like this. The IOC, after all, suggested years ago that awarding the Olympics to China would very well be a catalyst for change. ...
You don't have to be an actuarial tables expert to understand why Canada's largest insurance company, Manulife Financial Corp., is excited to be an Olympic sponsor.
The next edition of the Summer Games will be held in China, a land of 1.3 billion people that makes Canada and its 32 million look paltry by comparison, and it's a market that Manulife covets like no other.
As Manulife put it in a recent press release, the Beijing Olympic Games is, "the single greatest marketing opportunity this decade for companies wishing to establish leadership positions in Asia, and in particular the Greater China region."
Yet it's a disgrace that less than two years before the Games' opening ceremonies, the Beijing Olympics is shaping up to be a shameful missed opportunity for the likes of Toronto's own insurance giant.
Never before have western companies had the chance to foster meaningful human rights improvements in China. With billions of dollars worth of potential new business at stake, few major Olympic sponsors - others include adidas, Visa, McDonald's and Coca-Cola - seem interested in staring down the Chinese government and its Olympic organizing committee, insisting the country improve its human rights record if it wants to keep receiving sponsorship payouts.
Most sponsors, Manulife included, seem more interested in announcing new branch openings than they are in addressing the imbroglio that is China's human rights situation.
Earlier this month, for instance, a U.S. Congressional commission said it was deeply concerned about a "period of declining human rights for China's citizens." That was at about the same time as Amnesty International alleged the Chinese government is using the Games as an excuse to round up vagrants and send them to the countryside in advance of the Olympics.
In March, the BBC reported China's foreign ministry admitted organs from some prisoners are sold to foreigners who need transplants, although only in "very few cases." And that came on the heels of news that China last year executed at least 1,770 people, more than any other country in the world, although aid groups suspect the true number is higher.
It wasn't supposed to be like this. The IOC, after all, suggested years ago that awarding the Olympics to China would very well be a catalyst for change.
As Francois Carrard, the onetime IOC director general put it, the Olympic committee in awarding the Games to China is betting on, "the fact that in the ... coming years up to the 2008 Olympic Games, the interaction, the openness, the progress and the development in many areas will be such that the situation could be improved. We are making the bet that seven years from now we sincerely and dearly hope we will see many changes."
Yet Manulife and several other big-ticket Olympic sponsors clearly aren't interested in addressing that sort of change.
In response to questions about what human-rights role the insurer might play in China, Manulife's assistant vice-president Kim Griffiths said:
"We would like to ask that you contact the IOC to answer all questions relating to this issue."
It's not hard to read between the lines of Griffiths' comment.
"I honestly think every big company in the world desperately wants a piece of the economic pie there and is taking a `what we don't see can't really be hurting' anyone's type of approach,"said Bob Stellick, a Toronto-area marketer.
So much for the IOC's motto, Celebrate Humanity.
According to New China News Agency “being a reporter is the third most dangerous occupation in China.” It is no wonder that the Committee to Protect Journalists is concerned about the lack of freedom of the press and the safety of reporters in the lead to the 2008 Olympics. Is the solution part of the problem—we better check with the IOC?
After the meeting, CPJ’s Kramer said:
“We are very concerned that once the closing ceremonies are held and international attention fades, Chinese journalists will bear the brunt of official retribution for reporting any news that the government deems unfavorable. It is in the interest of the IOC to hold China to its promise of ensuring that all journalists, Chinese and foreign, are able to cover every aspect of the Games without obstruction or fear of reprisal."
In their 2001 bid to host the Games in the Chinese capital, Chinese officials gave explicit assurances of complete media access for all journalists in 2008. The CPJ delegation said the IOC has the obligation to raise media concerns with Chinese officials now because of China’s lagging record in meeting those commitments. Instead of the gradual reform needed to achieve those pledges, CPJ research shows that media conditions in China have worsened considerably since 2001. Chinese journalists are at much greater risk of administrative penalties and criminal prosecution as a result of their work. (more)
Sunday, November 12, 2006
China is killing oversized dogs and promoting a one-dog policy these days. This is one unhealthy way to celebrate the “Year of the Dog”. Beijing is already in the spotlight for animal cruelty and this one-dog policy won’t help their image any in the lead to the 2008 Olympics. The world’s pet lovers are watching and pointing the finger at China’s barbaric ways. It's time to take action.
Michael Sheridan: In an echo of the days when Chairman Mao denounced his foes as “running dogs”, hundreds of angry pet owners confronted the police in Beijing yesterday in a protest against the regime’s new “one-dog policy”.
Eighteen people were arrested in noisy scuffles as about 500 dog owners gathered in a rare unauthorized demonstration near Beijing Zoo.
Several of the middle-class protesters wore badges that read “stop the killing” and waved furry stuffed toys in the hope of softening the hearts of the riot police and plain-clothes security men who surrounded them.
One complained that the pet-lovers’ protest was treated as if Beijing were under martial law. Police cordoned off the area, massed hundreds of reinforcements in nearby streets and tried to stop photography and filming.
In cities all over China, dog lovers have been outraged, as police have swept through districts killing unlicensed dogs and confiscating others in a nationwide purge of the animals. (more)
Thursday, November 09, 2006
This is an excellent piece by Roland Watson of Dictator Watch reminding everyone to keep our focus on China and to boycott the 2008 Olympics.
Excerpt: Diplomats are still ignoring the reality in North Korea, that a modern day Hitler has nuclear weapons, as a means to avoid their personal failure to stop the proliferation. Further, international business is the single driving force behind diplomatic engagement. The main reason why no one has stood up to North Korea is that they don't want to imperil business relations with China. Jacques Chirac just visited China, and was obscenely given a 21-gun salute at the 1989 killing ground, Tiananmen Square. He received billions in business contracts, and pledged to end Europe's weapons trade ban. (The E.U. also recently sent a delegation to meet President Omar al-Bashir of Sudan, responsible for the genocide in Darfur.) American businesses want a piece of the pie as well (one recalls Bill Gate's April 2006 house party for President Hu Jintao), and lobby Washington to ignore China's serial human rights abuses. They call it diplomatic engagement, but what is really happening is that the politicians and businessmen have been blinded by greed. "It shall be the policy of this Nation to regard any nuclear missile launched by Cuba against any nation in the Western Hemisphere as an attack by the Soviet Union on the United States, requiring a full retaliatory response upon the Soviet Union." "The greatest danger of all would be to do nothing." The United States has announced that it will defend Japan, and also South Korea, against North Korean aggression. This is insufficient. President Bush, personally, should declare that any detonation of a nuclear device, anywhere in the world, will be met by swift and decisive retaliation against North Korea – and China.
The challenge, of course, is how to help the North Koreans win their freedom. A good place to start is to force China to end its support for Kim. Without China to lean on, his regime would fail. Conclusion It is not only nuclear proliferation for which China is responsible. The country, including through its leaders and companies, commits all manner of abuses. It continues to develop chemical and biological weapons. The repression and colonization of Tibet has accelerated. Taiwan remains under threat. Its factories are sweatshops, and the rivers, land and air are poisoned. (Chinese air pollution even reaches North America.) Dissidents, including religious adherents and the followers of Falun Gong, are imprisoned and killed, as are rural and worker protestors. China also reportedly executes more prisoners than the rest of the world combined. Beijing says that it disagrees with the West on the issue of human rights, but this is a mischaracterization. The subject is not open to debate. China is wrong. It's treatment of its own people, and derivatively of the people in the repressed societies that it supports, is wrong. The country backs many of the worst regimes on the planet, including North Korea, Burma, the Sudan, Uzbekistan, Saudi Arabia, and Zimbabwe. It consistently blocks Security Council action on such countries. China is not a member of the U.N. to help it achieve the organization's goals; it only uses the U.N. as a means to its own ends. Through its veto power, it is effectively the dictator of the Security
To repeat a long-standing Dictator Watch imperative, China must become a democracy. The best and certainly the least violent way to trigger this is to disrupt its economy. It is hard medicine, but it's what the patient needs. Boycott China! (more)
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
Target the Internet black holes by entering an online contest organized by"Reporters Without Borders”. This is the very first 24-hour online demonstration against Internet censorship. In China you can go to prison for posting your views on a blog. Here’s how it works.
RWB: The general public, Internet users, bloggers, journalists, students - everyone is invited to register their opposition to censorship with a simple click. The Reporters Without Borders website will be given over to this protest from 11 a.m. on 7 November until 11 a.m. on 8 November. (more)
"We have, of course, North Korea, where there's no Internet,” added Lucie Morillon, with the Paris-based group Reporters Without Borders. “We have Cuba, where Fidel Castro has been making sure that most of the people cannot have access to the Internet. We also have countries such as China, which is the biggest prison for cyber-dissidents, and a champion in terms of Internet censorship. A lot of technology has been put together to make sure that information about Tiananmen, or Falun Gong, or human rights, democracy, is being censored." (more)
Friday, October 27, 2006
It seems like it wasn’t that long ago that Beijing was astutely painting the grass green to meet the IOC inspection’s criteria as they were bidding for the Games—that was easy enough to do although unusual and deviated. But the pollution monster caught up with them and is not going away on its own--athletes are worried that the air quality will affect their performance. Maybe they should just stay home. Nevertheless, to curb the problem Beijing is getting creative and will go as far as closing ‘beauty salons’ during the 2008 Olympics. See what else they plan on doing…
Energy Tribune: Even weirder is this: Chinese citizens from other provinces or cities will need approval from their local governments if they want to travel to Beijing during the Games, a move reminiscent of the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976) when China enforced similar laws that restricted travel within the country. Given all these measures, Beijing may not need other environmental protection regulations, as it appears the city will be shutting down in order to run the Games and comply with the environmental decrees. (more)
Don't hold your breath--the Beijing miracle will last only from August 8 until the 24th, give or take a few days--then the same old problems will come out of the closet to haunt the populace. And that is China!
Nazi Olympics, Berlin, 1936
For two weeks in August 1936, Adolf Hitler's Nazi dictatorship camouflaged its racist, militaristic character while hosting the Summer Olympics. Softpedaling its antisemitic agenda and plans for territorial expansion, the regime exploited the Games to bedazzle many foreign spectators and journalists with an image of a peaceful, tolerant Germany. Having rejected a proposed boycott of the 1936 Olympics, the United States and other western democracies missed the opportunity to take a stand that--some observers at the time claimed--might have given Hitler pause and bolstered international resistance to Nazi tyranny. With the conclusion of the Games, Germany's expansionist policies and the persecution of Jews and other "enemies of the state" accelerated, culminating in World War II and the Holocaust.
Rira bien qui rira le dernier. Jiang and the gang seem to think that the Party is not over... yet! As Hu Jintao is making every possible effort to clean out the Jiang faction from the Party to assert his own power before the next Congress, Professor Yuan examines theCCP’s entire Fascist strategy.
1. Before the 2008 Olympic Games
During this period of time, the CCP primarily proposes to instigate and propel nationalism. At the same time, it will try hard to ensure a relatively stable social climate and maintain the present state so that it can push fanatical nationalism to a climax using the competitive environment of the Olympic Games.
2. For Two Years After the 2008 Olympic Games
The CCP will eliminate opposing voices inside its system. The CCP will solve its political crisis through severe political pressure. It will comprehensively oppress opposing groups, defined by the CCP as Falun Gong, political dissidents, and underground Christians. (more)
Thursday, October 26, 2006
Radio Free Asia (via China Post) has reported that 50 Tibetans are detained at the Chinese border in their attempt to seek religious and political freedom. Already the Chinese authorities say the troops opened fire in self-defense. How do they expect people to believe this non-sense? The brutal dictatorship is relentless, is not improving and is showing its true colours in the run-up to the 2008 Olympics--one more reason to boycott the Games.
Take a look at the video here showing CCP troops shooting the Tibetans like dogs.
Early on Sept. 30, as 75 Tibetan refugees were making a secret trek across the border into Nepal, moving in single file across a mountain slope near the 5,800m high Nanpa La Pass, Chinese border guards opened fire.
One woman -- a 25-year-old Buddhist nun -- was killed immediately, group members said. Chinese officials, in a statement apparently about the shooting, have said a second person also died.
"There was no warning of any kind. The bullets were so close I could hear them whizzing past," Thubten Tsering, a Tibetan monk, told journalists in New Delhi on Monday. "We scattered and ran."
Thubten is among 41 of the refugees who survived the shooting and reached India. The survivors said they do not know the fate of 32 others, including nine children, who were taken into custody by the guards.
"We don't know where they are or what happened to them," said Thubten, his chapped cheeks and exhausted face still bearing the scars of the ordeal.
Tibetan refugee Lobsang Choeden, left, answers a question at a media interaction organized by the Tibetan Center for Human Rights and Democracy as refugees Dolma Palkyid, center, and Thupten Tsering look on, in New Delhi on Monday.
The footage, which was released by Romania's Pro TV, shows a distant figure that its narrator says is a Chinese border guard firing a rifle and a separate scene of a person in a line of figures walking through the snow then falling to the ground. An unidentified man near the camera can be heard saying in English, "They are shooting them like, like dogs."
The activist group International Campaign for Tibet, in a written statement, said the video proves Chinese troops fired at unarmed Tibetans and counters a statement from Beijing that its forces were attacked and fired in self-defense.
The pass is a common escape route for fleeing Tibetans.
Thousands have left for Nepal since Chinese forces occupied their Himalayan homeland in 1951. Many make their way to the north Indian town of Dharmsala, the home of the Dalai Lama, the exiled Tibetan Buddhist spiritual leader and a Nobel Peace Prize laureate.
Every year more than 2,500 Tibetan refugees attempt the arduous trek, said Tenzing Norgay of the Tibetan Center for Human Rights and Democracy, which arranged the Monday news conference for the survivors.
When asked about his life in a monastery in Tibet where the monks are under the constant watch of Chinese security forces and under pressure to denounce the Dalai Lama, Thubten said simply: "It was stifling."
"Being a monk who has taken a vow to live by the faith, we were always under threat from the Chinese political authorities," he said.
Dolma Palkyid, a 15-year-old novice nun, was a close friend of Kelsang Nortso, the nun who was killed.
"I had walked ahead and we got separated. Then the shooting took place and we fled. It was four days later that I heard Kelsang was the one who was shot," she said, speaking haltingly and tearfully, through an interpreter.
Once in India, the friends were hoping to join another Buddhist nunnery together, said the red-cheeked teenager dressed in a traditional ankle-length gown.
The group of Tibetan refugees had each paid 5,000 yuan (US$625) to a guide to arrange the trip. They set off around the middle of last month, assured that the 10-day trek would deliver them to Nepal.
There have been instances of refugees being shot at by border guards in the past, but this was the first time in recent years that troops killed any, Tenzing said of the human rights group.
"This is the first time that the world has seen evidence of what Tibetans are subjected to by the Chinese," Tenzing said.
"Kelsang's death cannot go in vain. We will use this incident and the video footage to bring international pressure on China and press for Tibetan freedom," he said.
The face of Christianity presented to the Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury during his visit to China recently is the ‘Alice in Wonderland’ version. The untold story follows and it is shocking. Wouldn’t we be glorifying this oppressive regime by going to the 2008 Olympics where incessant human rights violations persist?
Spero News: Renewed human rights concerns in China
After the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, leader of the worldwide Anglican Communion, concluded his visit to China, grave human rights concerns have begun emerging, with the charging of a leading advocate for religious freedom and renewed fears over the death sentence of a church leader.
Gao Zhisheng, a prominent human rights lawyer who has fearlessly defended religious freedom, has been charged with 'inciting subversion of state power'. His lawyer, Mo Shaoping, received the notification of the decision to charge Gao on 12 October after weeks of silence following Gao's removal by a dozen security officers on 15 August.
Official notification of his arrest was only given to his wife over a month later on 21 September and he has been repeatedly denied access to his lawyer. According to his lawyer, the charge means Gao may be facing years in prison. The measures taken against Gao for his peaceful activities have been met by international censure.
Gao, dubbed 'China's hero of 2005', has been a leading champion of religious freedom, defending important cases, including the prominent case of Beijing house church leader Pastor Cai Zhuohua. He has published reports and open letters over abuses of religious and other freedoms, including the mistreatment of Christians in Xinjiang and, most notably, the violations against the Falun Gong.
His fearless pursuit of justice and his open letters to Chinese leaders have incurred the ire of the authorities and Gao has received a number of threats to his life and security, including being the target of several attempted 'accidents'.
Meanwhile concern is mounting for church leader Xu Shuangfu and others who were sentenced to death in June for serious crimes after a trial in which Xu and others testified of horrific torture used to extract confessions.
Xu, the leader of The Three Grades of Servants, described how he was hung in the air for five hours and how interrogators tied his fingers, toes and genitals with wire connected to an electrical supply. The defendants showed the judge the injuries from torture but received no response.
Besides the violence against Xu himself, the female leaders amongst the group of 17 sentenced were stripped before being tortured by male interrogators and placed in male cells where they were gang raped by the prisoners.
The fears for Xu's life and those sentenced to death with him are imminent and grave. CSW is urging for a retrial at which evidence obtained through torture is excluded.
The torture and abuses against Xu's group were even worse than those used against the South China Church when the authorities sentenced the leader Pastor Gong Shengliang and others to death in 2001. After an outcry by the US President and others the cases were reviewed and Pastor Gong's sentence was changed to a life sentence. Pastor Gong remains in prison, where he has been beaten so severely that he has slipped into a coma and his life has been at risk on a number of occasions.
In another court decision in June this year, one of the most important Christian leaders in China, Pastor Zhang Rongliang, who has already spent 12 years in prison for his faith, was sentenced to seven and a half years imprisonment, despite severe health problems, under what is believed to be religious persecution in the guise of passport-related crimes.
The contrast between the official view of religious freedom presented to the Archbishop and the reality of life for China's Christians as a whole is striking.
While the Archbishop has been hosted by the governmental and official church bodies, Christian leaders are languishing in prison for practising their faith. Christians still face imprisonment, hard labour, torture, fines and other persecution and harassment simply for choosing to live out their Christian faith.
The picture presented to the Archbishop by his hosts should therefore not be seen as representative of Christianity in its fullness in China. The vast majority of China's estimated 70 million Christians will not associate themselves with the bodies by which the Archbishop was hosted.
These Christians see the official church as being compromised in theology and practice and the existence of a church controlled by an atheist state as being fundamentally contrary to Christian doctrine.
While China seeks to present a picture of religious progress, reports indicate it is instead implementing a fresh programme to persecute the house churches.
Tina Lambert, Deputy National Director of Christian Solidarity Worldwide said: "If China wants to present a true depiction of religious freedom and progress she needs to provide genuine religious freedom for all."
Robert Henderson gives an excellent overview of the military ambitions of Communist China and weighs in the consequences. Hu Jintao’s “harmonious society” slogan is only words--the cold war is real. This kind of environment is less than ideal for the 2008 Olympics and goes against the Olympic Charter—we need to voice our concerns to the IOC that this is not acceptable.
Taiwan Journal: Excerpt - The Chinese defense budget has been growing at a double-digit growth rate in recent years, and the 2006 budget for defense was almost a 15-percent increase over the previous year. China's modernization of the PLA has led to a growing demand for new high-tech weapons systems, purchases of which have almost quadrupled between 1999 and 2005, according to the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies. Moreover, the U.S. Pentagon has reported that these foreign weapons purchases are funded separately from the official defense budget....
Europe implemented its prohibition on arms sales to China in June 1989 as a response to the Tiananmen Massacre, when government forces slaughtered thousands of peaceful protesters calling for democracy in China, and the subsequent crackdown on human rights in that country. More recently, there has been international concern over China's rapid military buildup and the passage in March 2005 of its Anti-Secession Law, as well as the adverse impact these measures have had on regional stability….
Other North American critics of lifting the arms embargo are concerned about Beijing's widespread human rights abuses, and point to alleged acts of physical cruelty against Falun Gong practitioners in China. The Chinese government recently enacted restrictive regulations forcing foreign news agencies that distribute news reports to Chinese media outlets to censor their reports on China's economy and society. Both American and E.U. critics have expressed strong opposition to these new censorship rules as a further example of the human rights abuses that are rampant on the mainland…
In recent years, Chinese leaders such as Premier Wen Jiabao have repeatedly described the E.U. weapons embargo as "a relic of the Cold War" and "political discrimination" while suggesting that its abolition would open the way for a more stable political environment between China and Europe. Leading up to Wen's attendance at the summit in Helsinki, a spokesman for China's Foreign Ministry, Li Ruiyu, reiterated these charges and denounced the arms ban as "discriminatory."…
At the same time, the Pentagon, in its 2006 annual report to the U.S. Congress on China's military power, noted that the rapid military buildup of its PLA forces in the near term appeared to be focused on preparing for contingencies for action in the Taiwan Strait, including ways of dealing with U.S. intervention. In addition, the PLA military buildup could also be used elsewhere in the region, such as to deal with low-level conflicts over resources and territory like the offshore oil deposits and East China Sea islands claimed by China, Japan and Taiwan. (more)
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
Concerns remain over China's human rights record in the run up to the 2008 Games, and now Channel 4 News has witnessed elderly demonstrators being beaten by police as they objected to power transformers for the Olympic park being built near their homes. Watch the report
As the demonstration started, the police weighed in with sticks, hitting old men around the neck and shoulders. A woman screeched, "Stop beating him!" as they manhandled her friend. A policeman roughly shoved her into a hedge, shouting, "Shut up!" Several elderly people were briefly hospitalised; four were arrested.
The Chinese government is especially sensitive to pro tests relating to the Olympics. The 2008 Games will be China's showcase, its chance to shine on the world stage. But instead of looking after those whose lives will be disrupted by construction of the facilities, the police, in this case, chose to ignore and then tried to silence them.
The pensioners say it is an honour to have the Olympics on their doorstep, but they object to the lack of consultation. "It is against the Beijing Olym pic themes - Green Olympics, People's Olympics, High-tech Olym pics," said Professor Wang. "It's against the basic Olympic principles." (more)
"Olympic organisers in China will be judged on more than their buildings in the run up to the Olympics."Let's hope there is some truth to that--let's be pro-active and send the IOC a reminder.
Stephen McDonell puts IOC member Kevan Gosper on the spot with a few questions related to possible human rights protests during the Beijing Olympics. After the shooting of last week, there are strong indications that the Tibetan leaders are proposing to campaign strongly for their cause—will the fearless Falun Gong unfurl yellow banners at the Olympic venues to protest the persecution as well? And how will the authorities react? Let’s remind the IOC that Beijing should live up to their promise of improving human rights in the run-up to the Olympics.
STEPHEN MCDONELL: With the world's eyes on Beijing, to what do degree do you think that the leadership here might be worried that groups like Falun Gong will try and use the Olympics as a platform to protest?
KEVAN GOSPER: We don't think they will, but you would expect me to say that we're here in terms of sport - the Olympic Games - that's the preoccupation for the Chinese.
Matters such as you mentioned are really of concern for the government themselves. I don't expect this will come into our conversation at all.
STEPHEN MCDONELL: But do you think that it's something the Olympic movement is aware of, that there may be groups who would try and use this as a time to protest against the Chinese government?
KEVAN GOSPER: We think its the responsibility of the host government to address matters which are of their concern and we know that the Chinese will take all this into account.
STEPHEN MCDONELL: Do you think its going to be a dilemma for the Chinese government that if someone like Falun Gong was to stage a protest outside the main Olympic stadium, they've got to make a decision. Do we start locking people up or do we just let this go?
KEVAN GOSPER: I think I've answered your question on this.
STEPHEN MCDONELL: You don't think that will be a dilemma for them?
KEVAN GOSPER: No, I'm sorry. If you want me to come back to telling you on the progress of the games how I think they're going, I have done and can do that.
But I'm not here to express my views on political matters, which fall outside of our remit.
MARK COLVIN: Kevan Gosper fencing with our China Correspondent Stephen McDonell. (more)
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
Red Orbit: "By allowing Beijing to host the games, you will help the development of human rights," Liu Jingmin, now vice-president of the Beijing Olympic Bid Committee, said in 2001.
Events have proved this to be a lie. The reality is one of continuation of the labour camps, arbitrary detention and torture, oppression in occupied Tibet and of the Uyghurs in Xinjiang, detention of internet dissidents at times aided by Yahoo and Google, greater restraints on press freedom, increased internet controls, and the passing of legislation threatening the destruction of democratic Taiwan.
The Olympic construction programme has seen the forced eviction of citizens without compensation, associated corruption and graft, and the persecution of any who dissent.
The Olympic Charter speaks of promoting a society concerned with the preservation of human dignity. The International Olympic Committee should stop counting the dollars, show some morality, follow its stated values and reverse the decision to award the Olympics to Beijing.
Sunday, October 15, 2006
The NY Inquirer gives a quick update on recent rights violations in China--this is just the tip of the iceberg really. As Amnesty International USA Advocacy Director for Asia and the Pacific T Kumar puts it "In spite of promises to improve human rights, China continues to account for upwards of 80% of all executions in the world," and on a large scale uses their organs for sale. At this rate, the only world record China is guaranteed to earn at the 2008 games will be for the world's champion of executions.” Sixty-eight capital crimes are punishable by the death penalty in China. Let the IOC what is going on--they have no idea!
Any dicussion of China would be incomplete without sufficient mention of human rights violations. There's the case of Zhao Yan, made quite public in the States by the New York Times, but it's hardly emblematic of the systematic abuses regularly carried out. A few instances:
Seok Jae-hyun, a South Korean journalist was sentenced to two years in prison on charges of “trafficking in human beings” after he photographed Korean refugees boarding boats for South Korea. China regularly refuses to honor its commitment under the UN Refugee Convention to allow refugees access to refugee determination procedures.
Lobsang Dhondup, a Tibetan, was executed only hours after his trial for “causing explosions” despite repeated reassurances to the U.S. and EU that his case would receive a “lengthy review.” Amnesty International recorded at least 726 executions in 2004 though they believe the true number to be much higher.
Shaheer Ali, a member of the Muslim Uighur ethnic minority who fled to Nepal and was granted refugee status by the UN, was forcibly returned to China where he was executed for “terrorist offenses.” Before his death he secretly provided testimony in which he describes being beaten and kicked unconscious and given electrical shocks during a previous detention. China has repeatedly used the “war on terrorism” to justify harsh repression of the restive Uighurs.
Deng Shiying died the day of her release from prison where she was serving a seven-year sentence for disseminating information regarding persecution of the Falun Gong spiritual movement. According to Falun Gong, immediately before her release, prison officials prompted other inmates to beat her. Since 1999 more than 800 people detained in connection with Falun Gong have died as a result of abuse or torture.
Wednesday, October 11, 2006
It’s ironic that China, still referred to as a third world country, is hosting the most expensive Olympics ever. While 2/3 of the populace is as poor as a church mouse, Beijing is spending the big bucks on military arsenals, space programs and, of course, Olympic sites—what is wrong with this picture? Countless peasants have lost their homes to make room for the Olympics venues--villages have disappeared overnight. It’s not too late to object--send a letter to the IOC. If enough concerned people can put Beijing in the spotlight, it is bound to make a difference.
Another report said: Beijing Organizing Committee for the 2008 Olympic Games or BOCOG held a seminar on Monday to further emphasize the principle of "frugal Olympics", set by the central government. The committee's executive vice-president, Liu Jingming, said his organization will invite experts to look through the operational budgets for the Olympic games in order to save investment and prevent corruption. 2007 will be a crucial year for event preparations. The opening and closing ceremonies are in the works, and planning for the torch relay is also taking place. 28 Olympic test events are also scheduled, starting next summer. (more)