Monday, December 31, 2007

Human Rights Torch to make its way in China


CIPFG Launches One Million Signature Campaign
Announces Plans for Human Rights Torch Relay to Enter China

MWC: As part of its ongoing efforts to end the Chinese government’s brutal treatment of Falun Gong practitioners, the Coalition to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong (CIPFG) has begun a campaign to secure one million signatures on a worldwide anti-persecution petition. The signatures will be gathered ahead of the 2008 Olympics in Beijing and will be presented to the International Olympics Committee, the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, international human rights organizations, and various governments and parliaments around the world.

The global anti-persecution petitions will demand that the Chinese Communist regime immediately stop its persecution of Falun Gong, unconditionally release all Falun Gong practitioners in detention, and end suppression of righteous individuals who support Falun Gong, such as human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng.

Since CIPFG was established in 2006, it has continuously exposed, on an international level, the Chinese Communist dictatorship’s contravention of various international human rights conventions – such as the Charter of the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – and its severe lack of respect for human dignity. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has ruthlessly persecuted and deprived the Chinese people of their fundamental rights, including freedom of speech, freedom of press, and freedom of belief. Despite promises the CCP made when awarded the 2008 Olympics, these violations have not improved in the least, but instead have worsened.

Throughout the last eight years, the CCP has committed chilling crimes against Falun Gong practitioners throughout Mainland China, including unscrupulous arrests; sentencing practitioners to forced labor camps; torture; murder; and organ harvesting from living practitioners. The persecution of Falun Gong is the most severe human rights disaster in China today.

In response to urgent requests from Mainland Chinese, the Human Rights Torch Relay (HRTR) flame will enter China in the spring of 2008. HRTR will then relay throughout China, which means there will be two Human Rights Torches relaying around the world simultaneously. This will allow the Chinese people who participate in this endeavor to voice their heartfelt calls for support to the international community.

The Coalition to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong invites people of good will around the world to join us in bringing an end to the ongoing persecution of Falun Gong practitioners in China. For information about how you can help, please contact us at:

OLYMPIC WATCH: Human Rights in China and Beijing 2008

Rights Activists to sue the City of Pasadena

January 1, 2008

Victims and Activist Groups to Sue the City of Pasadena, Various Public Officials and Individuals for Violation of Their Civil Rights

When: 7:00 AM, January 1, 2008

Where: Los Feliz Room, The Westin Pasadena,

191 North Los Robles, Pasadena, California 91101

Pasadena- Victims of China’s human rights violations and human rights groups who had protested the inclusion of a float representing the Peoples Republic of China in the 2008 Rose Parade announce today their intention to sue the City of Pasadena, various public officials and private individuals for violation of their civil rights. We intend to show that these agencies and individuals acted in concert to unlawfully prevent the issuance of a city permit to us for a demonstration against China’s continuing abuse of basic human rights.

The City of Pasadena initiated the invitation to Beijing to send a float to the 2008 Rose Parade. We intend to show that Mayor Bill Bogaard, despite his denials actively participated in the extension of this invitation. The City and the defendants then initiated a process to deny our right to free speech and assembly to protest Chinas’ abysmal human rights record.

Some months ago we asked the City and Tournament of Roses to withdraw the invitation to the Beijing float to the Rose Parade, or at the very least to allow us the opportunity to tell our side of the story. The City Council referred the matter to its Human Relations Commission. The Commission held public hearings on the matter and in September submitted a report to the Council making specific recommendations for Pasadena to decry human rights violations in China, and to provide human rights activists an opportunity to object to China’s vicious treatment of its own citizens. The Mayor and Council summarily rejected the report of its own Commission.

In response to a request from human rights groups, the City referred the groups to the Tournament of Roses to negotiate a compromise allowing for legitimate protests to be heard. An agreement with the Tournament officials was reached for the groups to have a Human Rights Torch Relay event one-half hour before the Parade.

Police officials including Chief Melekian and his representative Commander Gales, presumably acting on instructions from higher authorities then rejected the Relay as proposed, making vague references to unspecified “security concerns”. They tried to impose severe restrictions on the protest, allowing only a water-down event with a lone runner that would be held in the hours of darkness. This proposal is worthy of the communist government in China but not acceptable in any part of America, the land of the free.

We intend to show that the police’s “security concerns” are not genuine but excuses to deny our human rights event. Chief Bernard Melekian, in a surprising moment of candor, said, “There are a lot of groups (referring to Beijing float protesters and human rights activists) who think that this is their moment to get on television. That is simply not going to happen…I hate to see something that is a fun family event, that’s turning 119 years old go that way. It was never intended to be political theater. But there are people who seem to want to turn it into that.” (San Diego Union Tribune, Sunday December 30th 2007 A-3) The unspecified “security concerns,” therefore, were not the real reason behind the denial of the permit for the Torch Relay. It was simply a ruse to prevent inconvenient and commercially harmful human rights protests.

China is openly using the Olympic Games and their participation in the Rose Paradeas propaganda to tout their emergence as a world power and their “progress” under communist rule.

City officials claim they wish to avoid “politicizing” the parade. It is the City that politicized the parade by inviting China to participate. The City then used avoiding politics as an excuse to deny us the right to free assembly and the expression of our dissent, and to mischaracterize our human rights activities. We intend to show that one real reason the City wants to suppress dissent and protest is that the City is acting to serve the interests of private business interests. Those interests are only interested in profits. They want to sell their goods to Chinese market, or develop plants to take advantage of what can only be described as Chinese slave labor or they want to import shoddy or even toxic goods into this country.

We intend to show that the real reason behind the City’s suppression of outcries against China’s human rights abuses is to please the dictatorial regime of China. Mayor Bill Bogaard, after hearing numerous personal testimonies of China’s human rights abuses, called human rights violations in China “allegations.” Members of Pasadena China Subcommittee advised the City that criticism of China’s human rights violation would damage the relationship with China. Instead of “damaging” its relationship with China, the City expensed our constitutional rights of expression and assembly to please China in the most un-American way.

In closing, allow us to express our sorrow at this turn of events. Without Mayor Bill Bogaard’s invitation to the Beijing float we would rather be home with our families watching the Rose Parade. We came to protest Chinas massive violation of human rights. We now find ourselves spending time and resources to protest Pasadena’s violation of rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The specter of an American government allowing a dictatorial communist regime’s multimillion float and parade delegation while simultaneously denying American Citizens their rights is not acceptable and, we believe, illegal. How can a city government of this free country go out its way and spend much effort to invite, arrange funding, and lobby for the entrance of a propaganda vehicle of the tyrannical regime of China to our nationally pride Rose Parade, but use its administrative power to deprive the victims of the Chinese regime a dignified platform, and in the process suppress a private organization’s support for human rights causes?

OLYMPIC WATCH: Human Rights in China and Beijing 2008

No Olympic Medal-Part II

Look here for Part I

Human Rights in China: No Olympic Medal

Since 2001 when China won the bid for the Olympic Games, the Chinese authorities have said that this would have a positive impact on human rights. Nothing is however so far away from reality. Despite Beijing’s promises, there has not been any progress on any of the issues that have been raised in the 2006-2007 European Parliament resolutions and the Olympics have been used to crush dissenting voices inside China."

Since 2001, China has failed:

Human rights, democracy and rule of law

Ø to have productive human rights dialogues with the EU;

Ø to ratify the ICCPR and implement its provisions;

Ø to abide by its commitments to respect and guarantee human rights as it was mentioned in a provision included in its constitution in March 2004;

Ø to introduce universal suffrage in Hong Kong as guaranteed by the Basic Law and a multi-party system in the rest of China;

Ø to respect the independence and to curb the corruption of the judiciary;

Ø to stop political imprisonments, ill-treatment and torture in detention places, the widespread use of forced labor;

Ø to stop the crackdowns on human rights defenders and lawyers defending the rights of the Chinese citizens;

Ø to impose strict provisions and controls so as to curb the illegal trade in organs of executed people and of Falun Gong practitioners;

Ø to revise its one-child policy which leads in practice to forced abortions and sterilizations and the abandonment of girls on a massive scale;

Ø to abolish the death penalty;

International labor law

Ø to end the exploitation of Chinese workers, including children, making Olympic merchandise;

Ø to end labor rights violations in products bearing Olympic brands;

Freedom of speech

Ø to put an end to restrictions and censorship imposed on freedom of speech and of the media, including the Internet and Google;

Ø to stop branding Chinese journalists reporting on public order incidents (87,000 in 2006, compared to 10,000 in 1994) and public discontent as “hostile forces;

Ø to stop harassing and trying to silence foreign journalists by sentencing to prison terms;

Freedom of religion and belief

Ø to accord the right of legal existence to more than five religions;

Ø to terminate the ban on Falun Gong;

Ø to put an end to the allegiance of the state-legalized religious communities to the ideology of the Communist Party and to its ongoing interference in their internal affairs; in particular regarding the training, selection, appointment and political indoctrination of religious ministers;

Ø to put an end to the imprisonment of Catholic bishops and Tibetan Buddhist monks and nuns because of their allegiance to their respective spiritual leaders, to condemnations of pastors, ordinary believers and Falun Gong practitioners;

Ø to achieve any concrete result in its dialogue with the Roman Catholic Church about the authority of the Pope on the Chinese Catholic Church, its autonomy and the appointment of its bishops;

Ø to issue a standing invitation to the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief Asma Jahangir and to all the other thematic procedures of the U.N. Human Rights Council to carry out visits in China;

Tibetan issues

Ø to achieve any concrete result in its dialogue with the Envoys of the Dalai Lama concerning ethnic, religious, linguistic, cultural, economic and political issues in Tibet;

Ø to preserve the identity of the Tibetan population by organizing mass transfers of Chinese citizens from other ethnic origin to Tibet;

Ø to release Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, the Panchen Lama of Tibet appointed by the Dalai Lama, who was abducted by the Chinese against his will and the will of his parents when he was six years old and still remains missing;

Ø to leave the management of the selection of the Dalaï Lama under his control but has confiscated it through a new regulation dated 18 July 2007;

Ø to release Tibetan Buddhist monks and nuns allegedly involved in separatist activities;

Uighur issues

Ø to take into consideration the concerns of the Muslim Uighurs about a number of ethnic, religious, linguistic, cultural, economic and political issues in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region (XUAR);

Ø to preserve the identity of the Uighur population by organizing mass transfers of Chinese citizens from other ethnic origin into the XUAR;

Ø to release Muslim Uighurs allegedly involved in terrorism and separatism;

Ø to release Ablikim Abdureyim, the son of prominent Uighur human rights defender Rebiya Kadeer, sentenced in April 2007 to 9 years in prison;

North Korean refugees

Ø to stop the forced repatriation of asylum seekers from North Korea and to grant access to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR);

Ø to take into consideration the 2004 Resolution of the UN Commission on Human Rights expressing deep concern about “sanctions on citizens of DPRK (North Korea) who have been repatriated from abroad, such as treating their departure as treason leading to punishments of internment, torture, inhuman or degrading treatment or the death penalty, and infanticide in prison and labor camps” (E/CN.4/2004/L.21).

China’s external policy

Ø to stop supporting the repressive regime of Myanmar and the genocidal regime of Sudan;

Ø to stop threatening Taiwan, since it has on the contrary increased its threat by stationing more than 800 missiles pointed at this country;

Ø to allow Taiwan (23 million citizens) to apply for UN & WHO membership.

I agree with this diagnostic of the human rights situation in China and I support the Chinese human rights defenders in their fight for democracy

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OLYMPIC WATCH: Human Rights in China and Beijing 2008

Human Rights in China 2001-2007: No Olympic Medal

Look here for Part II

NGOs back MEPs 'serious concern' over China's human rights record in run-up to next year's Olympic Games

Office of Istvan Szent-Ivanyi MEP (18.12.2007) / HRWF Int’l (19.12.2007) – Email: – Website: - “Since July 2001 when China was awarded the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, there has not been any progress in its human rights record and the International Olympic Committee should now take a clear position in this regard,” said 12 European NGOs and several Sakharov Prize laureates who gathered today at the European Parliament in Brussels for a hearing on the deteriorating human rights situation in China in the run up to next August's opening ceremony.

In an unprecedented move, today's conference - which was organised by Brussels-based NGO Human Rights Without Frontiers and the political group Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe - brought together twelve European NGOs and several Sakharov Prize laureates including: Mr Wei Jingsheng (1996), the only Chinese recipient of the award so far, Dom Zacharias Kamwenho (2001) and Mr Olivier Basille, the Director of the Belgian branch of Reporters Without Borders (2005). A written statement was also read out on behalf of Mr Aliaksandr Milinkevich, the 2006 Sakharov Prize winner, who could not attend today's event. In their testimonies, all Sakharov laureates expressed solidarity with the Chinese human rights defenders whose freedom is continually repressed by authorities increasingly threatened by the people's overwhelming support for democracy and the rule of law.

The conference came just days after the European Parliament adopted a resolution on the EU-China human rights dialogue which expressed regret over the Council and Commission's failure to take opportunity of the recent EU-China Summit (November 28) and approaching Olympic Games to raise their numerous human rights concerns 'in a firm manner' with the authorities. The resolution, which was passed unanimously by the assembly, also called upon the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to publish its own assessment of China's compliance with the undertakings it made in 2001 to improve its human rights record and to insist that the European Union 'take note' of such an assessment.

In his opening remarks István Szent-Iványi, MEP (ALDE, Hungary) said: "The Olympic Games have always been more than a simple sports event. The 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, still have the potential to induce real progress in the human rights situation in China. But this requires a stronger and more united effort on behalf of the international community to call on China to respect its commitments."

Speaking at one of the seminar's sessions, Willy Fautré, director of Human Rights Without Frontiers International said: “Today four Sakharov Prize laureates and a dozen European human rights watchdogs have come together to assess the human rights record of China and resolutely decided that there has been no progress in human rights in China since 2001 and, in some areas, there has even been regression."

In his closing remarks Edward McMillan-Scott, Vice-President of the EP (EPP-ED, UK) said: "As we move into the Olympic year, China must recognise that the European Parliament not only unanimously expresses 'serious concern' over human rights in general, but also asked the IOC to make its own assessment of China's compliance with its 2001 promises for reform. Now a week later, a network of human rights NGOs has reinforced this message. As I insisted when I launched the campaign for a debate about an EU boycott earlier this year, the conclusion is that the 2008 Games, and all those thereafter, should move to Athens without delay."

At the end of the seminar, participating MEPs and NGOs were invited to sign a declaration which criticised the lack of progress made by China in the following areas: non-ratification of the ICCPR; the death penalty; freedom of speech and freedom of expression on the internet; international labour law; freedom of religion; persecution of Falun Gong practitioners, human rights defenders, journalists, lawyers, petitioners, civil society activists, ethnic groups such as the Uyghurs; and Tibet issues.

OLYMPIC WATCH: Human Rights in China and Beijing 2008

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Dissident Hu Jia is arrested in crackdown on criticism

|Los Angeles Times
BEIJING - In what human rights activists are calling a pre-Olympics crackdown on criticism, a leading dissident has been arrested here on charges of "subverting state authority."

The 34-year-old activist, Hu Jia, is among the best-known in a new generation of Chinese online dissidents, blogging about issues ranging from the treatment of AIDS patients to the Tibetan antelope. His relentless activism has landed him in jail many times before, but this latest arrest probably will provoke a greater outcry because of the spotlight aimed at Beijing in the run-up to the 2008 Summer Olympics.

Hu and his wife, 24-year-old fellow blogger Zhen Zinyan, were under house arrest when police barged into their Beijing home Thursday afternoon. Activists say the police disconnected the couple's telephones and Internet connections and seized a computer, memory sticks and documents. Zhen, who gave birth six weeks ago to a daughter, was not taken into custody.

Hu joins a number of other activists, many of them similarly plying their criticism over the Internet, who have been arrested in recent months.

In a statement released late Friday, Paris-based Reporters Without Borders called Hu "one of the foremost representatives of the peaceful struggle for free expression in China." The advocacy group, which earlier this month had given Hu and his wife an award for their activism, urged the international community "to rally to Hu's defense so that he does not become another victim of China's pre-Olympics repression."

Despite being under house arrest since May, Hu and his wife remained as active as ever, using the Internet to compensate for their lack of mobility. Hu testified by Web camera at a European parliamentary hearing Nov. 26 in Brussels, Belgium, at one point calling the Olympics a "human rights disaster."

Beijing has made clear it will not allow domestic critics to spoil what is being touted as the ultimate "coming out party," celebrating China's emergence as an economic power.

"We are against anyone politicizing the Olympic movement and the Olympic Games," said Jiang Xiaowu, executive vice president of the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Games of the XXIX Olympiad, during a talk Friday with journalists. "If anyone is to try to violate the Olympic spirit, they will not succeed."

The Chinese government made no statement over the weekend about Hu's arrest, which was first reported by fellow activists.

From Beijing to Athens, where the Olympic torch is to be lit in March, protests are being organized to publicize grievances against China on dozens of issues, such as its policies in Darfur and the treatment of North Korean refugees.

Trying to forestall the inevitable protests, China began rounding up suspected troublemakers in the days and weeks before another important event, the 17th Communist Party Congress, in October. Lawyer Gao Zhisheng was arrested in late September after writing an open letter to the U.S. Congress referring to the games as the "handcuff Olympics."

Online commentator Wang Dejia was arrested in the southern Chinese city of Guilin earlier this month after complaining that excess spending for the Olympics would force ordinary people to "live like pigs and dogs."
OLYMPIC WATCH: Human Rights in China and Beijing 2008

Friday, December 28, 2007

Group Asks Rose Parade Spectators To Shun Olympic Float

Human rights groups, frustrated that Pasadena will not allow them to protest a Rose Parade float touting the 2008 Olympics in China one minute before the parade begins, asked spectators Friday to turn their backs to the float when it goes down Colorado Boulevard next week.

"We are asking all Rose Parade attendees to show their support for human rights in China by turning their backs as it passes by," said Tseten Phanucharas, president of Los Angeles Friends of Tibet.

"We, as a coalition, support this wholeheartedly, and we will be out on the parade route urging everyone to turn their backs."The float -- sponsored by Pasadena-based Avery Dennison Corp. and the Roundtable of Southern California Chinese-American Organizations -- is the first touting China in the 119-year history of the Rose Parade.The float is intended to celebrate next year's Olympic games, but the Caltech chapter of Falun Gong and other human-rights groups have protested its creation -- calling it a "propaganda vehicle" -- because of China's human rights violations. (more)

Thursday, December 20, 2007

How will the Games benefit the mass of the Chinese people?

Original Source: On a recent trip to India, said to have cost around £750,000 of public money, the mayor of London, Ken Livingstone offered the Bollywood film industry a cheap deal for the use of some of the Olympic buildings in East London after the Games of 2012 are over. He is obviously keen to find ways of paying off the mountain of bills that appears to get higher by the day!

Earlier this year, the mayor travelled to Beijing, to see for himself how the regime in China was coping with being hosts of the 2008 Olympic Games. That trip, probably no less extravagant, was sponsored by the private firm ‘Freud’ – a company which happens to be run by the son-in-law of Rupert Murdoch, the media tycoon against whom Livingstone has railed on a number of occasions…including in Beijing! There in April this year he likened Tiananmen Square to Trafalgar Square.

He was asked about his attitude to the events of May-June 1989, when the mass movement for democratic rights was crushed, killing 3,000 protesters as tanks were sent in by the dictatorship. He drew some spurious analogies with the Poll Tax riots in Trafalgar Square and the Peterloo massacre in 1819 when men women and children were mown down by Castlereagh’s soldiers. ‘Red Ken’ was more or less saying, “These things happen!” Not a word of condemnation about the continued widespread human rights violations carried out by China’s ruling clique.

Amnesty International has been far more direct. In the July/August issue of Amnesty Magazine it reviews the promises made six years ago on Human Rights when Beijing was ‘awarded’ the 2008 Games. It lists 10 serious violations across the country which they say are “fuelling instability and discontent”.

Human rights violations

China’s one-party regime executes more people each year than the rest of the world put together; two thirds of the 68 crimes punishable by death are non-violent crimes. Re-education through Labour’ camps have been used to hold critics of the dictatorship for up to four years without charge or trial. RTL is also being used, the report says, to “clean up” Beijing in time for the Olympics. ‘Evidence’ in courts can be the result of torture and verdicts given after political interference. Many prisoners, subjected to torture, die in custody.

There has been no independent inquiry into the crack-down at Tiananmen Square nearly 20 years ago and dozens of people arrested then remain in prison. There is widespread internet repression, with sentences ranging from two to twelve years. Religious groups are persecuted and tens of thousands of Falun Gong practitioners held in prison. Independent trade unions are illegal; the authorities have used intimidation and long prison sentences to try and suppress “a wave of labour disputes” against low wages, mass lay-offs and corrupt management practices.

Harsh repression against the Muslim Uighur people in Xinjiang province and hundreds of Tibetans, including Buddhist monks and nuns, are in prison, subjected to torture and dying in custody.

Groups like ‘Reporters Without Borders’, ‘China Solidarity’ and the ‘Committee for the Support of Tibetan People’ complained from the very beginning to the International Olympic Committee about Beijing being chosen to hold this prestigious event, meant to celebrate humanity itself. They said it was the equivalent of holding the 1936 Olympics in Berlin when the Nazis were in power.

The IOC rejected the objections and said, “A Beijing Games would leave a unique legacy to China and to sports”. Equated with the award of the Olympics to Japan in 1964 and South Korea in 1988, the event is seen as an economic ‘coming-out party’. But Amnesty International says that far from improving, as the Chinese economy has opened up to the world, repression in China is getting worse.

Economic benefits

The Chinese economy will undoubtedly get a boost from the vast sums being spent on the Olympics, including two billion dollars on advertising. The regime hopes to get its ‘flagship’ companies, few of whom have established brands domestically, let alone abroad, better known as four billion TV viewers look on. But, according to China Daily, investment in Olympics-related projects is just 0.59 per cent of China’s annual investment. The ‘Communist’ Party chiefs claim that if this means it will have little effect on the world’s fastest expanding economy. But by the same token, this means it will not suffer the same kind of post-Olympic slowdown that beset the much smaller Greek economy after the Athens Games.

So will anything change for the better for the majority of the 1.3 billion population of this vast country who languish in poverty? Many hundreds of millions of them will still have no regular electricity supply, let alone television sets to watch the Games. The majority have no guaranteed supply of fresh water. Few, if any, now have access to free health and education provision. They lack many basic provisions as well as all basic democratic rights.

When capitalism and landlordism were first eliminated from Chinese society, as Mao Tse Tung and the peasant-based Red Army came to power after the Second World War, workers and poor farmers had no involvement in running the planned economy. There were no committees of democratically elected workers and peasants as in the early days of the Russian Revolution. Mao maintained a totalitarian grip on society.

Now, with the attempt of the ‘Communist’ Party leaders to carry through a controlled return to capitalism, the population not only remains without basic workers’ and democratic rights, but the majority are mired in poverty. The Chinese regime was never genuinely socialist or communist, in spite of the huge economic advantages of state ownership and planning. Today, in spite of paying lipservice to Marxist ideas and egalitarianism, the ruling clique presides over a country which, according to the Asia Development Bank, along with Nepal, has the largest gap between rich and poor

While half a million or so international visitors swarm into Beijing and populate the smart hotels, bars and restaurants, inflation will roar. Prices on basic foods like pork and eggs already increased by 45 and 30 percent respectively this year, putting them beyond the reach of many of the rural as well as urban poor.

Journalists and dissidents

As many as 30,000 foreign journalists are expected to visit China next year to cover the Games. All will be closely vetted, and the International Herald Tribune reported in the summer that the regime has ordered its security services to prepare lists of all “potentially troublesome foreign organisations” including evangelical Christians and anti-Sudanese activists. It quotes a consultant for Beijing’s Olympic organisers as saying: “Demonstrations of all kinds are a concern, including anti-American demonstrations”. But there are also “disaffected domestic groups: Tibetan separatists, farmers upset at land confiscations and Falun Gong – a spiritual movement that the government has suppressed as a cult”.

In the run-up to the Communist Party Congress and well before the Games, numerous journalists, lawyers and other critics of the government were being rounded up. Some are simply ‘disappeared’, others tortured mercilessly. Many of the Chinese sentenced to death each year are accused of fomenting social unrest. An open letter to the government from 40 prominent dissidents in China, calls for an amnesty for all political prisoners estimated to total 25,000.

But the tank-like Chinese state rolls on, crushing its citizens and ignoring practically every human and democratic right that is recognised (if by no means always practiced) in the rest of the world. A similar metaphor is used in an article in the Times of 27 November which says, “Many believe that China’s leaders have trapped themselves on a growth juggernaut, terrified of the unrest that would follow if the growth rate fell much below 9 per cent”. But it also writes that, “The one advantage of a one-party state, and a still substantially planned economy is that when it moves it will move fast…”.

No expense spared

The other advantage the Chinese state has over the London administration is that its coffers are full to overflowing. Livingstone will be acutely aware that for the Olympics, no expense has been spared in Beijing. $38 billion has been allocated - double even the oft-revised budget for London.

No problems either with awkward house owners, travellers or allotment holders; no fears of disruptive strikes or other escalating costs. The English newspaper, the Guardian, summed up the advantages for Beijing’s authorities last year: “Land can be requisitioned, and labourers toil for little more than 1,000 yuan (£70 or $140) a month. With no unions, they can also be made to work round the clock, which means fewer time over-runs”.

Ken Livingstone’s recent attacks on London’s RMT-organised tube workers have undoubtedly been aimed at deterring other workers from considering strike action in pursuit of decent wages and conditions on the East London building sites. Beijing has no such problem with trade unions and strikes being illegal. (There are anyway, 4 million ‘bangbang men’ – casual labourers in Beijing amongst the 20 million population. They have fled poverty in the countryside and are prepared to work for little more than the price of a bowl of rice.)

No fears about slippage on dead-lines in Beijing, either. The 38 new venues and stadiums are either complete or ahead of schedule. The new dragon-shaped Beijing airport, on which 40,000 builders are at work, will be the biggest in the world, far larger than Heathrow. Three new mass transit lines are also on schedule. (The pop anthem for the launching of the count-down to the Games this summer was entitled “We’re ready!”. One columnist in Britain said he was “looking forward to Girls Aloud’s 2011 release, ‘Does Wembley Have any Spare Capacity?’”.

David Smith wrote in his book on China and India (‘The Dragon and the Elephant’), “The city’s Olympic district, once the home of tens of thousands of low-income people, has been cleared of its occupants and flattened … the mobilisation of huge numbers of construction workers – 40,000 on the airport alone – is testimony to China’s huge resources of labour, but also its ability to pick up and dump people at will”. When their work is complete, wrote Deyan Sudjic in the Observer, “They will be shipped back to their distant villages, and two centuries back in time, leaving the glossy new city they have built to the party elite and the foreigners” (Observer).

Whole communities have been physically destroyed. Resistance has been met with baton charges and teargas, just as all protests against land-grabs or environmental destruction and poisoning are.


There is one major head-ache that, even with all their authoritarian powers, next year’s Olympic organisers may not be able to cope with. Pollution!

Jokes have circulated for some time now about marathon runners carrying oxygen tanks on their backs or 10k swimmers wearing protective clothing. But it is possible that the ‘Communist’ Party tops will not be able to bring pollution down to acceptable levels by the time of the Olympics next year!

They have overseen the tripling in size in a decade of China’s economy, but have done little or nothing to protect the environment. Most of China’s main rivers are poisoned and this year China is reachinghe has rapidly reached the top of the world’s league of carbon dioxide (greenhouse gas) emitters. 20 million people a year become ill with respiratory diseases. 600,000 premature deaths in urban areas are a direct result. The effects have been estimated to take 13% off total value production in China’s booming economy.

In Beijing, in spite of schemes to keep up to 2 million cars off the capital’s streets and the re-location of a Beijing steel-works and other factories out of the capital, the volume of fine particulates in the air is still twice the World Health Organisation’s recommended level and living in Beijing is said to be the equivalent to smoking 40 cigarettes a day. The Beijing equivalent of Ken Livingstone, Liu Qi, will continue to put the blame on wind-born pollution from surrounding provinces.

Apart from Beijing, there are in China another 19 of the world’s 30 most smog-choked cities. Two thirds of China’s biggest cities have “unhealthy air” but factory-owners who violate state guidelines are often not prosecuted but protected by local officials, not without money changing hands! Jonathan Fenby writing in the Observer on 25 November comments that while central government obviously wants to tackle the huge environmental crisis, it also “hesitates to impose an effective crackdown on the polluting factories driving economic expansion.”

What will happen?

Many sports team managers around the world are now worrying about participating in the 2008 Games. Some are saying they will bring their competitors into the Beijing danger zone only at the last possible moment. Even the Games organisers themselves admit they may have to delay some of the events until the smog clears!

One or two other problems are proving difficult for the dictatorship to solve in spite of, or because of, their centralised control. It has promised the IOC to have a “third generation” (3G) mobile-phone network available in time for the Games. Detailing the crippling bottlenecks that arise from heavy state control, attempts to involve different telephone companies and a plethora of regulatory agencies, the Economist comments, “Foreign investors looking at China often swoon at the country’s vast potential but are driven mad by its conflicting and heavy-handed policies”.

Even the system for issuing tickets to the nearly two million hopeful spectators broke down after the first 9,000 purchases! The culprit here was an American firm ‘Ticketmaster’ brought in by the regime to demonstrate the efficiency of a joint venture with an experienced capitalist firm!
Walking a tightrope

Millions of Chinese turned out on 8th August this year in city squares across the country and along the Great Wall as the countdown to next year’s Games began. The time and date of the opening - 08.08 08/08/08 - is seen as very auspicious. Eight is said to be a lucky number. (As it happens, it was the time and date chosen by students twenty years earlier in Burma to begin their generalised struggle which led to a prolonged general strike – the most serious challenge to the rule of the generals!).

The Chinese regime is walking a tightrope of maintaining heavy state control with the introduction of more and more capitalist practices. As long as the economy goes forward, it is fairly confident of success. But most commentators agree that the Communist Party is sitting on a powder keg of unrest. The credit crunch hitting the world economy will have devastating effects in China and explosions of class struggle will result.

Some members of the ruling party cling to the idea that socialist phrases will help keep the lid on. The main leadership looks to nationalism. The 2008 Olympics offers them a chance to rally national sentiment. The ruling clique in Beijing will be hoping against hope that no major crises beset them before the Olympics are held. And, when the final ceremonies are over, their headaches could become even more painful

Socialists can be enthusiasts for sport, even for major international competitions. But our main concern is the struggle for a new society, free from of all forms of repression and discrimination, free from exploitation and environmental destruction. Only truly democratic socialist planning of publicly owned resources can begin to undo all the harm of past centuries and put us on the road to genuine harmony - between individuals and between nations.
OLYMPIC WATCH: Human Rights in China and Beijing 2008

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

EU Motion/Resolution on the Olympics

EU-China: Beijing summit and human rights dialogue

Excerpt from a Press Release via Save Tibet: Turning to the 2008 Olympic Games, Parliament argues "that human rights concerns should receive much more focus in the build-up to the Beijing Olympic Games" and points in this connection to Articles 1 and 2 of the Olympic Charter. It also requests the International Olympic Committee "to publish its own assessment of China's compliance with the undertakings given in 2001 before the Games were awarded to Beijing".

The resolution highlights political persecution related to the Olympics, of human rights defenders, journalists and others. The repression of ethnic groups such as the Uighurs and religious groups such as the Falun Gong is also condemned, as is the surveillance and censorship of information on the internet. In addition, Parliament wants the Chinese authorities "to establish a moratorium on executions during the Olympic Games in 2008, and to withdraw the list of 42 banned categories of people".

Lastly, among other demands, the resolution calls on China "to implement the recommendations of the UN special rapporteur on torture" and "to stop its ongoing support for the regimes in Myanmar and Darfur".

The resolution can be found here

12.12.2007 B6-0543/2007 }


pursuant to Rule 103(4) of the Rules of Procedure, by

– Edward McMillan-Scott, Georg Jarzembowski, Tunne Kelam, Patrick Gaubert

and Laima Liucija Andrikien÷, on behalf of the PPE-DE Group

– Hannes Swoboda, on behalf of the PSE Group

– Dirk Sterckx and Marco Cappato, on behalf of the ALDE Group

– Brian Crowley, on behalf of the UEN Group

– Hélène Flautre, Raül Romeva i Rueda, Helga Trüpel, Eva Lichtenberger and

Milan Horáček, on behalf of the Verts/ALE Group

– Vittorio Agnoletto and Esko Seppänen, on behalf of the GUE/NGL Group

replacing the motions by the following groups:

European Parliament resolution on EU/China Summit - EU/China human rights dialogue

The European Parliament,

– having regard to the Joint Statement of the 10th China-EU Summit held in Beijing on 28

November 2007,

– having regard to the public hearing held on 26 November 2007 by its Subcommittee on

Human Rights on 'Human Rights in China in the run-up to the Olympics',

– having regard to the rounds of the EU-China Dialogue on Human Rights held in Beijing on

17 October 2007 and in Berlin on 15-16 May 2007,

– having regard to its resolution of 6 September 2007 on the functioning of the human rights

dialogues and consultations on human rights with third countries1,

– having regard to its resolution of 15 February 2007 on the dialogue between the Chinese

government and the envoys of the Dalai Lama2,

– having regard to its resolution of 7 September 2006 on EU-China relations3 and to its

previous resolutions on China,

– having regard to the European Union Guidelines on Human Rights Dialogues, adopted on

13 December 2001, and to the evaluation of the implementation of these guidelines,

adopted on 9 December 2004,

– having regard to its previous annual resolutions on human rights in the world,

– having regard to the UN Olympics Truce, as passed by the UN General Assembly on

31 October 2007 (A/RES/62/4), inviting UN Member States to observe and promote peace

during the Olympic Games,

– having regard to the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,

having regard to Rule 103(4) of its Rules of Procedure,

A. whereas since the set up of the EU-China Summit mechanism in 1998, China-EU relations

have strongly developed politically and economically,

B. whereas any decision to initiate a human rights dialogue is taken on the basis of certain

criteria adopted by the Council, which notably take into consideration the major concerns

on the part of the EU about the human rights situation on the ground in the country

concerned, a genuine commitment on the part of the authorities of the country concerned,

with regard to such dialogue, to improving the human rights situation on the ground, and

the positive impact which a human rights dialogue may have on the human rights situation,

C. whereas the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games should constitute an ideal opportunity for

focusing the world attention on the human rights situation in China,

D. whereas the EU is based upon and defined by its adherence to the principles of liberty,

democracy and respect for human rights, fundamental freedoms and the rule of law;

recalling, at the same time, that the EU considers that adherence to these principles

constitutes the prerequisite for peace and stability in any society,

E. whereas the EU-China strategic partnership is of great importance for the relations between

the EU and China and whereas a genuine partnership must be based on shared common


F. whereas the strengthening and deepening of EU-China relations could help to develop

convergent views for actions to tackle global challenges such as climate change, security,

terrorism and non-proliferation of arms,

G. whereas there are continuous disturbing reports of political repression, particularly of

journalists, human rights activists and members of religious and ethnic minorities,

allegations of torture, widespread use of forced labour, frequent use of the death penalty

and systematic repression of freedom of religion, speech and the media including the

Internet, and the strict controls exercised by the Chinese Government over information

about and access to the Tibetan areas of China; whereas it is therefore difficult to

determine accurately the scope of human rights abuses,

H. whereas China's engagement and influence in the world have increased considerably over

the last decade, and considering that credibility, democratic values and responsibility

should constitute the fundamental basis of the relationship between the EU and China,

EU-China Summit

1. Welcomes the Joint Statement of the 10th EU-China Summit in which both sides reaffirm

their commitment to developing a comprehensive strategic partnership to meet global

challenges, as well as the further development of EU-China relations and their closer

cooperation in order to deal with a wide range of issues;

2. Regrets the fact that once again the Council and Commission have failed to raise in a firm

manner human rights issues at the EU-China Summit in order to give more political weight

to human rights concerns, and that the EU did not take the opportunity of the approach of

the Olympics to address serious human rights concerns in China;

3. Calls on China and the EU to ensure a more balanced trade and economic partnership

which should lead to sustainable growth and social development, in particular in the areas

of climate change, environment and energy;

4. Considers that the pirating and counterfeiting of European products and brands by Chinese

industries constitutes a serious violation of international trade rules; urges the Chinese

authorities to considerably improve the protection of the Intellectual Property Rights (IPR);

5. Calls at the same time for greater coherence and consistency between human rights on one

side and trade and security on the other side; urges therefore the EU, to ensure that

improved trading relationship with China is contingent upon human rights reforms, and

calls on the Council, in this regard, to make a comprehensive evaluation of the human

rights situation before finalizing any new Partnership and Cooperation Framework

Agreement (PCFA);

6. Welcomes, therefore, the launch and start of negotiations on a PCFA, which will cover the

full scope of the EU-China bilateral relationship, including an effective and operational

human rights clause, as well as strengthened and enhanced cooperation on political

matters; reiterates its demand concerning inclusion of the EP in all future bilateral relations

between the parties, taking into account that, without the EP's formal assent, there can be

no PCFA;

7. Insists that the EU arms embargo on China following the Tiananmen events must remain

intact until substantial progress is made on human rights issues; reminds the EU Member

States that the EU Code of Conduct on Arms Exports includes as a criterion respect for

human rights in the country of final destination of such exports;

8. Is concerned that, despite repeated representations by the Chinese government of intentions to ratify the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), ratification is still pending; urges then China, without further delay to ratify and implement it;

EU-China human rights dialogue

9. Regrets that China's human rights record remains a matter of serious concern; emphasises,

therefore, the need to considerably strengthen and improve the EU-China human rights

dialogue; calls on the Council to provide a more detailed briefing to the Parliament;

considers it relevant to continue to organise the EU-China legal seminar on human rights,

which used to precede the dialogue, with the participation of academic and civil society

representatives, and in this regard welcomes the establishment of an EU-China Human

Rights Academic Network under Objective 3 of the European Instrument for Democracy

and Human Rights (IDHR) and calls on the Commission to ensure that this network will

effectively function in cooperation with Parliament;

10. Considers that the matters discussed in the successive rounds of dialogue with China,

such as ratification of the ICCPR, reform of the criminal justice system, including the death

penalty and the system of re-education through work, freedom of expression, particularly

on the Internet, freedom of the press, freedom of access to information, freedom of

conscience, thought and religion, the situation of minorities in Tibet, the release of

detainees following the events in Tiananmen Square, and workers' and other rights, must

continue to be raised in the context of the dialogue, in particular with regard to the

application of the recommendations resulting from previous dialogues mutually agreed

upon by both parties and seminars on legal affairs; to this end, calls on the Council to

consider extending the time period of the dialogue and to allow more time for discussion of

the issues raised; calls, furthermore, on the Council and Commission to pay special

attention to compliance with the International Labour Organisation's conventions with

regard, in particular, to independent trade unions and child labour;

11. Notes China's commitment to support the UN Human Rights Council in performing its

function of addressing human rights issues in a credible, objective and non-selective

manner, and calls for a strengthened cooperation in the UN system as well as to cooperate

with the UN human rights mechanisms and the international human rights standards

provided for in the relevant international human rights instruments, including the rights of


12. Draws attention to the need for China to allow the free expression and practice of religion

and thought; affirms the need, particularly in the light of the discussions among Chinese

officials about the definition of 'religion' and especially 'legal religion', for a

comprehensive law on religion meeting international standards and guaranteeing genuine

religious freedom; deplores the contradiction between the constitutional freedom of belief

(enshrined in Article 36 of the Chinese Constitution) and the ongoing interference of the

state in the affairs of religious communities, in particular as regards the training, selection,

appointment and political indoctrination of ministers of religion;

13. Regrets that the sixth Sino-Tibetan round of talks has brought about no results; calls on the parties to make every effort in order to continue the dialogue and calls upon the Chinese

government to engage in substantive negotiations taking into due consideration the

demands of the Dalai Lama for autonomy for Tibet; calls on China to refrain from exerting

pressure on states that have friendly relations with the Dalai Lama;

14. Reiterates its concern over the reports of continuing human rights violations in Tibet and in the other provinces inhabited by Tibetan people, including torture, arbitrary arrest and

detention, repression of religious freedom, arbitrary restrictions on free movement, and

rehabilitation through labour camps; deplores the intensification of the so-called 'patriotic

education' campaign since October 2005 in Tibet's monasteries and nunneries, forcing

Tibetans to sign declarations denouncing the Dalai Lama as a dangerous separatist; calls

upon China to allow an independent body to have access to Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, the

Panchen Lama of Tibet, and his parents, as requested by the UN Committee on the Rights

of the Child;

15. Calls on China, as a member of the UN Human Rights Council, to implement the

recommendations of the UN special rapporteur on torture and to issue a standing invitation

to China to UN experts;

16. Is of the opinion that human rights concerns should receive much more focus in the buildup to the Beijing Olympic Games; and reiterates "respect for universal fundamental ethical principles" and the promotion of a peaceful society concerned "with the preservation of human dignity' as enshrined in Articles 1 and 2 of the Olympic Charter;

17. Requests the International Olympic Committee to publish its own assessment of China's

compliance with the undertakings given in 2001 before the Games were awarded to

Beijing; stresses the responsibility of the EU to take note of such an assessment and to

work with its Olympic Network to create a basis for responsible behaviour in preparation

for, during and after the Olympics;

18. Is strongly concerned by the recent increase of political persecutions related to the

Olympics of human rights defenders, journalists, lawyers, petitioners, civil society

activists, ethnic groups such as the Uighurs, religious of all beliefs, especially Falun Gong

practitioners; calls on the Chinese authorities to release these people immediately and to

put an end to these human rights violations, as well as to the demolition of substantial

numbers of houses without compensation to make way for the Olympic infrastructures;

19. Calls on China to make concrete steps to grant freedom of expression, and to respect

freedom of the press, both for Chinese and foreign journalists, raises particular concerns

about the lack of implementation of the new regulation on international journalists active

in China, and urges the Chinese authorities to immediately stop censoring and blocking -

especially with the help of multinational companies - thousands of news and information

websites based abroad, calls for the release of all journalists, Internet users and cyberdissidents detained in China for exercising their right to information; reiterates its call on the Chinese authorities to establish a moratorium on executions during the Olympic Games in 2008, and to withdraw the ban list of 42 categories of people;

20. Draws attention to the conclusions of the 17th Chinese Communist Party National

Congress, held in mid-October 2007, at which different perspectives and openness arose

towards the implementation of higher international human rights benchmarks in China;

21. Urges China to stop its ongoing support for the regimes in Myanmar and the situation in


22. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the

Governments and parliaments of the Member States, the Government of the People's

Republic of China, the Chinese National People's Congress, the Secretary-General of the

United Nations, and the Board of the International Olympic Committee.

OLYMPIC WATCH: Human Rights in China and Beijing 2008