Friday, July 20, 2007

RBW, the Rose Parade and the CCP float

Here is an enlightened letter from Reporters without Borders to the Chairman of the Pasadena Tournament of Roses about the CCP communist float participating in the parade. Look here for a report by Pasadena Weekly Joe Piasecki on this topic and here for a report by Epoch Times Dan Sanchez. It would be quite a coup for the CCP if this was to happen. Send your letters to the Pasadena Weekly to protest--they publish most of the letters:

Mr. C.L. Keedy
Chairman of Pasadena Tournament of Roses
391 S. Orange Grove Blvd.
Pasadena, CA 91105

July 10, 2007

Mr. Chairman,

As you prepare the next Rose Parade, to be held on January 1, 2008, Reporters Without
Borders feels compelled to write to you to raise the issue of human rights in China. We are
surprised and disappointed to learn the presence of a Beijing Olympic float at the upcoming
Parade. The 2008 Summer Olympics are due to start in Beijing in just over a year’s time
but the Chinese government, despite its explicit promises, refuses to make improvements in
basic rights and freedom.

Throughout the world, concern is growing about the holding of these Olympics, which have
been taken hostage by a government that balks at taking action to guarantee freedom of
expression and respect for the Olympic Charter’s humanistic values.

The Chinese authorities promised in Moscow in 2001 to improve the human rights
situation. The representative of the Beijing Candidate Committee said: “By entrusting the
holding of the Olympic Games to Beijing, you will contribute to the development of human
rights.” Six years later, Reporters Without Borders has registered no lasting improvement
in press freedom or online free expression. Foreign journalists obtained a temporary
improvement in their status on 1 January but that will end in October. Strong pressure
would have been needed to get the government to abandon the authoritarian and suspicious
habits that make China one of the most backward countries for the international press.

China continues to be by far the world’s biggest prison for journalists, press freedom
activists, cyber-dissidents and Internet users. Nearly 100 of them are serving sentences
imposed without due process. Most of them are being held in terrible conditions. The
journalist Shi Tao, for example, is forced to work in the prison where he is serving a 10-year
sentence. How can you accept that Chinese who have campaigned for more freedom will
have to impotently watch the world’s most important sports event from their cells?

China’s journalists continue to have to accept the dictates of the Propaganda Department,
which imposes censorship on a wide range of subjects. The state maintains broad control of
news and uses authoritarian laws to punish violators. Charges of subversion, divulging state
secrets and espionage continue to rain down on journalists and editors working for the most
liberal media. Self-censorship is the rule in editorial rooms. Chinese-language media based
abroad are blocked, harassed or jammed, preventing the emergence of any media pluralism,

The laws governing the Internet have been made even tougher in the course of the past six
years, turning the Chinese Internet into a space that is subject to surveillance and
censorship. These restrictions also apply to foreign Internet companies.

Who will be able to say that the Olympic Games are a great sports event when thousands of
prisoners of conscious are languishing in Chinese detention centres? Who is going to be
able to believe in the 2008 Olympics slogan “One World, One Dream,” when Tibetan and
Uyghur minorities are subject to serious discrimination? What will you tell the relatives of
Chinese dissidents in jail when they will learn about the presence of Beijing 2008 amidst the
Rose Parade’s festivities?

The Chinese government and Communist Party attach the utmost importance to the success
of the Olympic Games for their own sakes, but without keeping any of the promises they
have made.

Mr. Chairman, it is not too late to get the Chinese organizers, who are for the most part also
senior political officials, to release prisoners of conscience, reform repressive laws and end
censorship. It is time to add your voice to the international pressure and to say clearly to the
Chinese authorities that you will not allow the Rose Parade to be associated to the Olympics
and to have the celebrations marred by the human rights violations committed in China.

Reporters Without Borders knows the strength of sports and entertainment when they are
put at the service of peace and democracy. Mr. Chairman, we do not doubt your
commitment to freedom of expression. We believe that your convictions and those of the
Rose Parade board members will enable you to quickly do what everyone is expecting of
you – to take action on behalf of freedoms in China and to refuse to pay tribute to the 2008
Beijing Olympic Games till the promises made by the Chinese authorities are not kept.
We feel sure you will take account of our comments. Thank you for your consideration.


Robert Ménard
OLYMPIC WATCH: Human Rights in China and Beijing 2008

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