Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The Goebbels model-2008 Summer Olympics in China

segye: August 27, 2007 - by Nat Hentoff (columnist)

It is increasingly evident that those protesting China’s hosting the 2008 Olympics are not limited to appalled critics of Beijing’s deep involvement in the genocide in Darfur and now Chad. Supporters of essential free-press rights everywhere such as the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists make the crucial point that China imprisons more journalists than any other country in the world. Dictatorships, after all, shun sunlight.

When representatives of the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) went to Lausanne, Switzerland, last year to tell the International Olympic Committee (IOC) of their concerns, IOC Executive Director Gilbert Felli declined to raise their issues with the Chinese government because “It is not within our mandate to act as an agent for concerned groups.”

After the meeting with the IOC, CPJ board member Jane Kramer of the New Yorker made this point that American and international companies sponsoring the Beijing Olympics should be reminded of: “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.”

Inevitably, as the world watches the games on television, there will be brave reminders from some members in the audience, and even from some of the athletes, of lethal arms from China being used in the Darfur genocide; the vicious Chinese misrule in Tibet; and its imprisonment of Catholic priests and nuns. And of course, there will also be reminders of the mass murders of students in Tiananmen Square.

Meanwhile, the rising tide of repugnance at relentlessly oppressive China hosting the Olympics is manifest in such American cities as New York. On July 25, the New York Sun reported on a number of City Council members introducing a resolution “asking all corporate sponsors of the 2008 Beijing Olympics with headquarters and operations in New York” to pressure the Chinese government about its role in the genocidal atrocities in Darfur.

If these shaming efforts don’t succeed, China will brush them off, and, as Geoffrey Wheatcroft, writing about the Nazi Olympics of 1936 in the July 8 New York Times, predicts: “The Chinese government will suspend executions for a few weeks (before the games) and be able to say (at the opening ceremony) ‘A beautiful day, a great day.’ Those were Goebbels’ words after the opening ceremony in 1937, adding ‘A victory for the German cause.’”

OLYMPIC WATCH: Human Rights in China and Beijing 2008

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Endurance athletes worry about pollution in Beijing

By Juliet Macur - Published: August 26, 2007

IHT: OSAKA: With temperatures rising into the mid-30s Celsius and with the humidity closing in on 90 percent, some marathoners could not bear it at the track and field world championships.

They staggered and collapsed. They were taken away on stretchers, soaked in sweat that had no chance of cooling them in heat reaching the mid-90s Fahrenheit. Others simply stopped running, as their bodies failed to cope with the weather. Of the 85 runners who started Saturday, about a third failed to finish behind Luke Kibet of Kenya, who won in 2 hours 15 minutes 59 seconds.

"For me, it was the hardest race of my life because the condition is no good," said José Manuel Martínez, a Spaniard who was 10th, standing near where another competitor toppled over without warning. "I hope the Olympics will be better. If Beijing is going to be anything like this, I don't know what we will do."

If pollution levels in that city are not abated in time for next year's Olympics, experts say, conditions for the marathon and other endurance events will be much worse than they were here Saturday.

In a visit to China this month, Jacques Rogge, the president of the International Olympic Committee, said some Olympic events might be postponed if the pollution would put the athletes at risk.

Although Rogge was not panicking over the environmental issue, saying last week that he was "very confident" China would clean up Beijing, his suggestion to juggle the dates and the locations caused a stir. Some athletes and coaches said moving those events, particularly at the last minute, could be a disaster.

"The Olympics should have a fixed time and place because the athletes and coaches train very specifically for the day and the course," said Yilma Berta, the Ethiopian national marathon coach. "If the race is changed, then we may travel to the site too early, and then we are not having the proper training for the days before the race. It would be a very, very big problem for us."

Some sports federations, like those of the United States, Australia and Britain, have decided to house some athletes away from Beijing until right before the competitions so they will not be exposed to poor air.

...He (David Martin, an exercise physiologist with USA Track and Field) added: "The better choice right now is to just eliminate the pollution. I think the Chinese will do that because they have to do that. It would be embarrassing if they had a massive boycott because the athletes did not want to compete in those conditions. It would be embarrassing if they had dozens of athletes having asthma attacks or competing with face masks. China just doesn't want that as their legacy." (more)
OLYMPIC WATCH: Human Rights in China and Beijing 2008

Standing Up for Human Rights

TruthNews.com - USA by Joe Pitts, August 24, 2007

Just before Congress left Washington for the August recess, I joined with several other Representatives as an original cosponsor of House Resolution 610, introduced by Representative Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA).

H.Res. 610 calls for a boycott of the Summer Olympic Games in Beijing, in August 2008, unless the Chinese regime stops engaging in serious human rights abuses against its citizens and stops supporting serious human rights abuses by the regimes in Sudan, Burma, and North Korea against their citizens.

The Government of the People’s Republic of China regularly denies the right to freedom of conscience, expression, religion, and association to its own citizens.

The Chinese Government holds thousands of political prisoners without charge or trial, including democracy activists, lawyers, human rights defenders, religious leaders, journalists, trade unionists, Tibetan Buddhists, unregistered church members, Falun Gong practitioners, and political dissidents.

The Chinese Government continues to support and therefore enable serious human rights abuses by the regimes of Sudan, Burma, and North Korea against their citizens.

China reportedly purchases as much as 70 percent of Sudan’s oil, and currently has at least $3 billion invested in the Sudanese energy sector, for a total of $10 billion since the 1990s. The Chinese have provided funds for a presidential palace in Sudan at a reported cost of approximately $20 million. In addition, the Chinese Government has reportedly cancelled approximately $100 million in debt owed by the Sudanese Government. All this, as genocide is carried out against Sudanese citizens in Darfur.

China has sold Burma’s military regime over $2 billion worth of arms and military equipment since 1989, which have been used to commit grave human rights violations and mass atrocities against Burma’s ethnic minority civilians. The people of Burma continue to suffer as the brutal military dictatorship engages in ethnic cleansing against the minority populations, uses rape as a weapon of terror and uses ethnic peoples as human landmine sweepers. Up to one million Burmese citizens have been internally displaced by their own government and 3,000 villages have been destroyed as part of the regime’s campaign against ethnic minorities.

The Chinese Government has been the largest proponent of the brutal North Korean Government led by Kim Jong Ill. They continually block action against North Korean human rights abuses at the United Nations. Thousands of North Koreans, fleeing the brutality of their government, have been detained by the Chinese authorities and forcibly returned across the border where they face arbitrary detention, torture, and even summary execution.

I have great respect for the American athletes who are scheduled to compete in China next summer. These athletes have trained for years for the opportunity to compete in the Olympic Games. In a perfect world, the Olympics would be simply a competition of the greatest athletic talent in the world and talk of boycotts would never interrupt our athletes from displaying their skills on the greatest world stage.

Unfortunately, in a world in which 1.3 billion people live under a repressive totalitarian regime, the Olympic Games are more than just an athletic competition. In a world where genocide is tolerated in the name of oil contracts and state imposed famine is sustained by propping up brutal dictators, the Olympics go well beyond athletic competition. The 2008 Games are a public relations display for the Chinese Government.

The modern Olympic movement was started as a way to bring the world together in peace and unity in the name of athletic competition. However, there is nothing peaceful about the imprisonment and torture of political dissidents. There is nothing peaceful about support for brutal dictatorships.

We cannot stand by and allow the grave atrocities that Chinese officials carry out against their fellow citizens to be glossed over by the splendor and pageantry of the Olympics. Holding a successful Olympic Games is very important to the Chinese Government. They want to use the opportunity to show their greatness as a nation. This desire for prestige presents a real opportunity to put pressure on the Chinese Government to make changes before the Games take place.

Just as it was inappropriate in 1936 to hold the Olympics in Nazi Germany, so to it would be inappropriate to give China the world platform that comes with hosting the Olympics if they do not take steps to correct their human rights violations.

The prospect of a boycott is regrettable, but not nearly as regrettable as the millions of people that have fallen victim to the horrific abuses of the Chinese Government and the brutal regimes they enable.

Congressman Joe Pitts, a Republican, represents Pennsylvania's 16th Congressional District, which includes Lancaster County and parts of Chester County and Berks County.

OLYMPIC WATCH: Human Rights in China and Beijing 2008

Friday, August 24, 2007

Shadow boxing with an Olympic giant

Khaleej Times Online - 19 August 2007

CHINA’S 12-month countdown to the Beijing Olympics did not get off to a good start, at least not in Canada. Canadians rappelled down the Great Wall of China in sympathy with Tibetans, lent tacit support to Taiwan’s bid for a voice at the World Health Organisation (WHO) and called for government intervention in promoting democracy in the world’s most populous nation.

To top it all, a former Canadian junior cabinet minister and ardent human rights campaigner, David Kilgour, is spearheading a global human rights torch relay to boycott the summer games a few weeks after authoring a report that charged the Beijing government with being complicit in the harvesting of organs from members of a particular sect (the Falun Gong) and selling them to foreign tourists. Two years ago, Mr Kilgour had Sudan in his cross-hairs, daring the then Paul Martin government into doing more for refugees fleeing the Darfur region in return for his support in a close parliamentary vote.

The call for a boycott has been endorsed by a coalition in Washington called the Doctors Against Forced Organ Harvesting. “The call for boycott of the Olympics addresses the Communist government in Beijing not the Chinese people,” a spokesman, Torsten Trey said in a letter published in the Ottawa Citizen. A few US lawmakers have also got in on the act.

The Chinese mission in Ottawa has reacted with predictable angst to the call for a boycott, on the lines of a similar western shunning of the 1980 Moscow Olympics. An embassy spokesman saw it as an attempt to “politicise” the games, adding for good measure that, “To exploit the chance of the Beijing Olympic Games to engage in anti-China activity is not only shameful but also doomed to fail.”

The disdain for China extends from senior members of the Harper government to ordinary citizens who pen letters to the editor. Recent revelations about Chinese toy exports being tainted with lead and farm produce being unsafe have fed into a diplomatic chill that has beset relations since the Conservatives came to power in January last year. Prime Minister Stephen Harper famously remarked about China that “I think Canadians want us to promote our trade relations worldwide, and we do that, but I don’t think Canadians want us to sell out important Canadian values. They don’t want us to sell that out to the almighty dollar.”

Most Canadians expect China to be on its best behaviour in the run up to Beijing. It is perhaps the only explanation for the speedy way in which the Chinese government kicked out – rather than incarcerated – three Canadians who had caused it enormous embarrassment on the day it launched its countdown spectacle. Rather than being jailed and tried under China’s stringent laws governing public behaviour, Sam Price, Melanie Raoul and Lhadon Tethong, were expeditiously kicked out of the country and put on Canada-bound planes.

The three had helped put up a huge pro-Tibet banner on the Great Wall of China, recording the event and then posting it live on popular websites like YouTube. Ms. Raoul said on her return, “The banner was on the wall for nearly two hours. It was a fantastic moment. I’m completely thrilled the way we got the message out there.” They were greeted in Vancouver and Toronto as homecoming heroes when their commercial airliners landed in Canada.

In what has been described by commentators as “another burr under [Canada’s] relationship with China,” Health Minister Tony Clement has lent this country’s support for Taiwan taking part in technical meetings of the WHO. This has been interpreted as tacit support for Taiwan’s bid to gain observer status at the World Health Authority, which governs the WHO.

Taiwan’s resident representative in Canada was undoubtedly delighted, saying, “This is a very positive sign. … We have been frustrated since 1971, when we lost UN membership, and we have been deprived of participation in all the UN related agencies … and a major country like Canada says something like this, that carries some weight,” David Ta-Wei Lee said. The Chinese response was equal and opposite: “It is hoped Canada will be able to see through such political motives on the part of the Taiwan authorities.”

Tibet and WHO membership, though, are modest goals compared to another Canadian desire. Despite the bad rap that democratisation has gained in the wake of the American disaster in Iraq, Canadian parliamentarians are all for spreading the message of liberty and freedom to the Forbidden City and beyond. In a bipartisan report released last July, the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development suggested that Canada should be joining the US, Britain and Norway as a global promoter of democratic institutions.

“Canada should carefully consider how it might support democratic transition in China, the stirrings of which are already apparent,” the parliamentary committee said. Citing this report, Bruce Gilley, author of China’s Democratic Future: How it will Happen and Where it will Lead, said, “Putting China at the top of a wider agenda of Canadian-style democracy promotion would be a great way to start making amends for 40 years of unprincipled dealings with Beijing.”

However, there are pragmatic voices even within Conservative ranks that caution against ‘megaphone democratisation.’ They also point out that only those who are unsullied can preach from high ground. John Reynolds, who is widely credited with strategising the gains the party made in the 2006 campaign and who has just returned from a business trip to Beijing, senses a lot of shadow boxing and hectoring, to no avail. “It’s the up-and-coming superpower of the world. Is it perfect? No, but is Canada perfect or is the US perfect?”

George Abraham is a journalist based in Ottawa, Canada
OLYMPIC WATCH: Human Rights in China and Beijing 2008

Letter: Shining torch on human rights

Monday Mag: Published: Aug 22 2007
Re: “Walls and Torches” (August 16-22)

John Threlfall is right to be concerned about the escalated crushing of dissident voices by the Chinese regime along with the poison emerging from China these days. Ditto. What is comforting though, is that an alternative human rights torch relay, led by the Honourable David Kilgour, will beam the spotlight on the regime and continuously send shock waves throughout the four corners of the world during the next year as the torch covers five continents.

Kilgour, who wrote a report earlier this year confirming the harvesting of live Falun Gong adherents’ organs, plans to use the brutal persecution of Falun Gong as a prime example to illustrate the severe decline of China’s human rights record since it was awarded the Olympics in 2001. The persecution is by far the worst human rights violation occurring in China today—not only does it go against the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, but it also goes against the Olympic Charter! Killing people on demand for their organs for profiteering shouldn’t go unnoticed by the international community let alone the IOC (source: http://organharvestinvestigation.net). It shouldn’t take a rocket scientist to see that communist China is completely unfit to host the Olympics. At this point, it is clear that the IOC need our assistance to help them understand the Olympic Charter and implement it. But I won’t hold my breath! Meanwhile, three cheers to the brave Students for Free Tibet group for their feat at the Great Wall! That is truly inspiring affirmative action for safeguarding the Olympic spirit and putting human rights and dignity in the forefront where they should be. Chapeau!

By Marie Beaulieu, Victoria

OLYMPIC WATCH: Human Rights in China and Beijing 2008

Just say no to 'Made in China'

National Post: Published: Friday, August 24, 2007

Re: 'Made In China' Has To Be Safer, Editorial, Aug. 23.

The Chinese government promises to strengthen regulation of product safety and punish severely those who manufacture sub-standard stuff that is dangerous and unhealthy. But the issue is not simply greedy factory owners who put maximizing their profits over the public good or government inspectors who can be bribed or intimidated to look the other way.

The more fundamental cause is systemic. Under China's one-party dictatorship, nongovernmental organizations, such as consumer advocacy groups, are not allowed to form. Journalists who expose malfeasance are charged with "false reporting" or "endangering state security." The judiciary is not independent of government, so the powerful are always protected. The upshot is that when buying a bottle of water made in China one is never absolutely sure that the water inside the bottle is safe to drink.

The other negative characteristic of China's current political system is that no one truly represents the interests of ordinary Chinese people. When China's Communist Party abandoned Marxist ideology 20 years ago, it evidently also abandoned its commitment to furthering social justice.

So until China achieves democracy, I'm brushing my teeth with Canadian paste.

Charles Burton, associate professor, Department of Political Science, Brock University, St. Catharines, Ont.

OLYMPIC WATCH: Human Rights in China and Beijing 2008

Monday, August 20, 2007

China: HRW: No Progress on Rights One Year Before Olympics

Human Rights Abuses Shadow Countdown to 2008 Beijing Games

HRW: (New York, August 2, 2007) – China’s dire human rights record and a renewed crackdown on media freedom may spoil the government’s hopes of a successful “coming out party” at the Beijing Olympics, which begin in a year, Human Rights Watch said today.
A year before the August 8, 2008 opening ceremonies for the Beijing Olympics, the Chinese government shows no substantive progress in addressing long-standing human rights concerns. Instead, apparently more worried about political stability, Beijing is tightening its grip on domestic human rights defenders, grassroots activists and media to choke off any possible expressions of dissent ahead of the Games.

“Instead of a pre-Olympic ‘Beijing spring’ of greater freedom and tolerance of dissent, we are seeing the gagging of dissidents, a crackdown on activists, and attempts to block independent media coverage,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “The government seems afraid that its own citizens will embarrass it by speaking out about political and social problems, but China’s leaders apparently don’t realize authoritarian crackdowns are even more embarrassing.”

China has a well-documented history of serious human rights abuses, including widespread torture, censorship of the media and internet, controls on religious freedom, and repression of ethnic minorities in Tibet and Xinjiang.

China continues to lead the world in executions. The government classifies the number of people executed as a state secret, but it is believed that China executes many more people than the rest of the world combined each year. Most trials are deeply flawed, as the accused often do not have access to adequate defense counsel, trials are usually closed to the public, evidence is often obtained through torture, and the appellate process lacks needed safeguards. China’s courts lack independence, as they remain controlled by the government and ruling Chinese Communist Party.

But the staging of the Olympics is exacerbating problems of forced evictions, migrant labor rights abuses, and the use of house arrests to silence political opponents. The government is continuing its crackdown on lawyers, human rights defenders and activists who dedicate themselves to rule of law and the exposure of rights abuses. Fear of citizen activism has led to government obstruction of local activists and grassroots organizations working to stem China’s HIV/AIDS epidemic.

Fears of harm to China’s national image have even led Chinese officials to stop prominent activists from leaving the country. Among them, Hu Jia and Zeng Jinyan, a husband-and-wife team of human rights activists, have been clamped under house arrest and travel restrictions since May on unsubstantiated suspicions of “harming state security.” Dr. Jiang Yanyong, a courageous surgeon who exposed the government’s cover-up of the 2003 SARS outbreak, has been denied permission to travel to the US in December to receive a New York Academy of Sciences human rights award.

The victims of government retribution against perceived “troublemakers” often include those who devote themselves to defending some of China’s most marginalized and vulnerable citizens. Chen Guangcheng, a blind, self-educated lawyer who documented abuses of China’s family planning law, was convicted in August 2006 of instigating an attack on government offices in a sham trial in which his lawyers were physically attacked and then detained by police to prevent them from attending. Gao Zhisheng, an outspoken advocate of the rights of human rights abusers said in April 2007 that he agreed to write a confession to charges of sedition leveled at him in December 2006 only after he had been tortured and security officials had threatened his wife and children.

“Political repression is not in keeping with the behavior of a responsible power and Olympic host,” said Adams. “The Chinese government shouldn’t waste this unique opportunity to use the 2008 Games to demonstrate to the world it is serious about improving the rights situation in China.”

Human Rights Watch said that China’s close relationship with dictatorships and rights- abusing governments in places like Sudan, Burma, Cambodia and Zimbabwe will also come under close scrutiny in the coming year.

With one year to go before the Olympics launch, “The starting gun has been fired on the assessment of China’s commitment to rights at home and abroad,” said Adams. “Just as Chinese citizens will be rooting for their athletes to win medals, we are rooting for the Chinese government to move up in the league tables on rights protection.”

  • Forced evictions and school closures. The construction of facilities for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing has involved forced evictions of thousands of citizens in and around Beijing, often without adequate compensation or access to new housing. The pre-Olympic “clean-up” of Beijing has resulted in the closure of dozens of officially unregistered schools for the children of migrant workers.
  • Labor rights abuses. Thousands of migrant workers employed on Olympic and other construction sites across Beijing do not receive legally mandated pay and benefits including labor insurance and days off, and are often compelled to do dangerous work without adequate safeguards.
  • Repression of ethnic minorities. China continues to use the “war on terrorism” to justify policies to eradicate the “three evil forces” – terrorism, separatism, and religious extremism – allegedly prevalent among Uighurs, a Turkic-speaking Muslim population in China’s Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region. Uighurs who express “separatist” tendencies are routinely sentenced to quick, secret and summary trials, sometimes accompanied by mass sentencing rallies. The death penalty is common. In Tibet, Chinese authorities still view the Dalai Lama, in exile in India since 1959, as central to the effort to separate Tibet from China and view Tibetan Buddhist belief as supportive of these efforts. Suspected “separatists,” many of whom come from monasteries and nunneries, are routinely imprisoned.
  • Controls on religious freedom. China does not recognize freedom of religion outside the state-controlled system in which all congregations, mosques, temples, churches and monasteries must register. The government also curtails religious freedom by designating and repressing some groups as “cults,” such as the Falungong.
  • The death penalty and executions. The government does not publicize figures for the death penalty, but it is mandated for no fewer than 68 crimes. Though the exact number is a state secret, it is estimated that as many as 10,000 executions are carried out each year.
  • HIV/AIDS rights advocacy obstruction. Measures to address China’s HIV/AIDS crisis are hampered as local officials and security forces continue to obstruct efforts by activists and grassroots organizations to contribute to prevention and education efforts and to organize care-giving.
  • Use of house arrest system. Numerous human rights defenders and government critics have been harassed, detained and subject to house arrest. If today’s pattern holds, a pre-Olympic clampdown in the weeks and months before the Games is likely.
  • Ties with rights violators. China’s close relations with countries linked to severe, ongoing human rights violations are also a serious source of concern. China maintains relations with and provides aid to regimes including Sudan, the site of egregious human rights violations in Darfur, and Burma, whose military junta violently suppresses civilians. China has also not ratified the International Covenant on Political and Civil Rights, which it signed in 1998.
OLYMPIC WATCH: Human Rights in China and Beijing 2008

If China Has Nothing to Hide, Why Do They Hide So Much So Often?

Thanks John E. Carey for spelling out the facts.

Peace and Freedom - August 21, 2007

Let’s just review a few tales of China’s handling (or mishandling) of information, the media, the Chinese people and the truth lately.

–On August 17, an estimated 12 million cubic meters of water flowed into the Zhangzhuang Mine, in Shandong province 300 miles southeast of Beijing, after hard rains caused the Chaiwen River to burst through an earthen levee. More than 700 miners were underground when the dam burst. About 172 miners are unaccounted for. But because no list of names has been released, even to waiting families, and no news has been allowed about the event, we may never know the truth.

The Washington Post reported on August 20, 2007 that, “The accident, the latest in a long series of tragedies in Chinese mines, provided another dramatic example of China’s poor worker safety record, particularly in the booming coal industry. More than 2,800 miners were killed in underground explosions and floodings last year, making China’s mines the deadliest in the world. The highest known toll came from a gas explosion in a mine shaft in 2005 that killed 214 workers.”

After last week’s flooding in the Zhangzhuang Mine, families waiting for some news from their government revolted in a near-riot. Many were beaten and removed by uniformed troops, according to eye witnesses.

At the end of the Washington Post report on the lost miners, reporter Edward Cody wrote that, “The official party newspaper, People’s Daily, ran a prominent front-page story Monday detailing the widely applauded rescue of 69 miners on Aug. 1 after a similar flooding accident in Henan province. ‘Miners’ Lives Above All,’ was the headline. The paper’s account of what was actually happening in Shandong was limited to five paragraphs on page three.”

The story, it seemed, was a buried as the miners.

–On August 16, President Hu Jintao of China ordered all of Chinese media to only report good news. The efficiency of this order’s execution indicates a long-planned evolution. China watchers says there are two goals to this. First, the communist leadership of China does not want the people of China to see, understand or think about the social ills and crimes of the government just before the 17th Communist Party Congress. And, secondly, President Hu is putting into place media restrictions that will “sugar coat” all information about China between now and next summer’s Beijing Olympics.
The Chinese National Olympic Stadium, also known as the Bird's Nest, designed by Ai Weiwei
The Chinese National Olympic Stadium, also known as the ‘bird’s nest’, designed by Ai Weiwei. Ai Weiwei has said he will not attend any Olympic events, even the opening in the stadium he designed, because of China’s poor record on human rights.

–Also on August 16 in Henan, the police shut down two offices of China Orchid Aids Projects, saying that they were part of an illegal organization. Earlier this month, Li Dan, the director of the group, was detained for 24 hours and a planned conference about the legal rights of people infected with HIV cancelled.

Meg Davis, founder of the Asia Catalyst organization, another advocacy group for HIV/AIDS sufferers that planned to participated in the conference, said China’s leaders were excessively anxious ahead of the congress and the Olympics.

“Groups like China Orchid Aids Projects are among the best and the brightest in the world. China should be showing them off, not shutting them down,” she said. “We can’t sit on our hands and stop fighting Aids for a year because of a sporting event.”

–Also in anticipation of the 17th Communist Party Congress, on August 8, 2007, China halted radio transmissions from as many as 12 of the 17 radio stations in Nanjing. The stations were known for their more liberal views. All the stations remain silenced as of this writing on August 20.

–In Beijing, practice for what we here call the “Surreal Façade” (Beijing Summer Olympics 2008) is in full tilt. Because the automobile traffic contributes to Beijing’s smothering air pollution, the communist government has devised a plan to get one million cars off of Beijing’s streets. A four day test is commencing. But because many people will be inconvenienced, out of their cars and on to buses and trains, the communist government has issued instructions to editors and producers about how they must cover the “One Million Auto Shut-Down.”


No interviews or images of the inconvenienced are allowed. The success of the four day test, at least in the eyes of the Chinese media, has been foreordained.

“This crackdown is a legal gun to the head to responsible journalists who want to report on the basis of facts,” said Sophie Richardson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “China has a long track record of using similar campaigns to weed out news that the authorities find objectionable because it exposes social and political problems.”

–On August 13, 2007, a bridge collapsed in China near the town of Fenghuang, killing 41 construction workers. China’s Central Propaganda Department ordered a media blackout on the bad news which exploded into a fist fight between police and the assembled media at the site of the bridge collapse.

–On the day marking exactly one year until the start of the Beijing Games, China arrested a group of student activists who draped a banner on the Great Wall reading: “Free Tibet.” The protest was quiet and peaceful.

After two days “detained,” the students were deported. This was a signal to the world about the manner in which protesters will be treated during the Olympics. No mention of the affair appeared in the Chinese media.

–China’s handling of the product safety scandals, which started in December 2006, is in a class by itself. For months China denied that any products exported from China were harmful. Yet all over the globe, inspectors found poisoned pet food, poisoned toothpaste, poisoned cough syrup that probably killed over 100 people in Panama, and other dangerous problems. Even children’s toys were found with lead-based paint on them, which is toxic.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration reported that China’s “farm-fed” seafood came packed with antibiotics. That’s because they are fed on human excrement. If you soak your Chinese shrimp too long in warm water, the “pink” runs out. It is dye: there to make the seafood look more fresh and appealing.

With a public relations scandal involving food and other product safety looming if not already roiling for China on June 12, 2007, the Vice Minister for the State Administration for Industry and Commerce in China said, “We can guarantee food safety.”

But that assertion was clearly laughable.

On August 4, 2007, the official China news agency Xinhua quoted the deputy head of the State Food and Drug Administration, Hui Lusheng, as saying “Dealing with and preventing food safety risks is a long-term, arduous and complicated project.”

Finally, a probably reliable admission from China.

But China is never happy with the truth.

Just this last weekend, on China State Television, the Most Honorable Li Changjiang, China’s director of product safety made an appearance to say the “product safety scandal” was all “politically motivated, unfair, biased and poisoned by jealousy.”

So you Americans, Canadians, Panamanians and others in the west fabricated the scandal: China was not at fault as some might think. Is that a correct interpretation, do you think?

The bottom line to all of this is this the Chinese people live in a repressive regime with an ugly record on human right. In the minds of Hu Jintao and other communist leaders in China, the less the people of China know the better. If a free media continually exposed China’s ills, the entire communist system might be called into question.

And with the world coming to call in Beijing next summer during the Beijing Games, the Chinese will stop at nothing to make sure that China appears to be the new nirvana.


China: You Won’t Get The Truth

China Planning a Surreal Facade for Summer Olympic Games: Beijing 2008

China Plans Happy Olympics But A Few “Small” Problems Remain

OLYMPIC WATCH: Human Rights in China and Beijing 2008

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Letter: Human Rights Wanted not Olympics

edmontonjournal.com: Published: 7:12 am, 16 August 2007.

Unlike John Reynolds, I'm thrilled that David Kilgour and others took on the noble task of calling for a boycott of the Beijing Olympics. This affirmative action is much needed to beam the spotlight on the Communist regime's torturing and murdering of its own people for their organs and their beliefs, especially the Falun Gong group, which has been hit the hardest.

Had Reynolds talked with the farmers in the countryside for a couple of hours while in China, he would have learned that the Chinese people are now calling for a boycott en masse under the slogan: "Human rights wanted, not Olympics."

It is Communist China that has it wrong - to not include human rights in this equation, which is a fundamental part of the Olympic charter, is where the real politicization that violates the spirit of the Olympic movement really lies. How long can we ignore all the poison emerging from China these days, let alone the killing of innocent people for their faith? Would we not all boycott the Games if they were given to Sudan or Zimbabwe?

Canada should be a true friend to China and keep our athletes home.
Marie Beaulieu, Victoria
OLYMPIC WATCH: Human Rights in China and Beijing 2008

Olympic Spotlight Ignites Hope for Change in China

By Caylan Ford
Epoch Times Canada Staff
Aug 16, 2007

Dressed as a Greek Goddess, this activist joined government officials and former Olympians to begin the global Human Rights Torch Relay in Athens.(The Epoch Times)
Dressed as a Greek Goddess, this activist joined government officials and former Olympians to begin the global Human Rights Torch Relay in Athens.(The Epoch Times)

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- Boycott Beijing 2008, Say Activists Thursday, August 09, 2007
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When the IOC awarded Beijing the 2008 summer Olympics, it was said to be an act of faith that the Games would give China's leaders the impetus to become more responsible players in the international community.

What the current Chinese regime had hoped to be an Olympic coming-out party on the word stage is instead looking more like the 1936 Olympics, which were blighted by Hitler and Nazism.

A laundry list of interest groups are sounding the alarm over the 2008 Games, ranging from concerns over press freedom, the persecution of Falun Gong, Tibetans, and political dissidents to China's arms proliferation, its role in Darfur, tainted products, and pollution problems.

The organizers of the Beijing Olympics are no strangers to controversy. The preparations for the Games have ranged from the eccentric–like spray-painting the grass green during IOC inspections and planning to artificially force rain ahead of the opening ceremony–to the appalling. Some human rights groups charge that Beijing has used the Games as a pretext to step up the suppression of dissidents and religious groups such as Falun Gong and Tibet so as to avoid any public protests during the Games.

But rather than being silenced, rights advocates are instead using the Games as a platform to flag long-standing during this time when the international community is more inclined to pay attention.

Last week, exactly a year ahead of the opening ceremonies for the Games, two former Olympians joined supporters of the Falun Gong spiritual discipline in launching a "Human Rights Torch Relay" in Athens to protest the Chinese regime's violent persecution of the meditation practice.

Among those present at the event in Athens was former Edmonton MP and Liberal cabinet minister David Kilgour, who referred to the 2008 Olympics as the "bloody harvest Olympics." The moniker was a reference to the Chinese regime's practice of forcibly removing and selling the organs of Falun Gong prisoners of conscience.

Supporters of human rights in Darfur, have also seized on the chance to condemn Chinese rulers for their policy on Sudan, which includes weapons proliferation and obstructing UN resolutions to intervene in the conflict there. Referring to the Beijing Games as the "genocide Olympics", many groups are calling for a boycott.

"We have tried to give China a chance to try to make good of what is required of a rising world power, that is, recognizing and respecting the rights of its citizens and promoting human rights outside of its own borders. So if that does not happen we will have no choice but to call for a boycott of the Beijing Olympic Games," says Clement Apaak, chair and founder of Canadian Students for Darfur.

High-profile celebrities like Mia Farrow have also called for a boycott of the Games over China's backing of the Sudanese government. Farrow,along with several prominent rights activists, also launched a symbolic torch relay in Chad this week to protest the Beijing Games.

Director Steven Spielberg, one of the artistic advisors for the Beijing Games, is reportedly considering resigning his post if China does not change its stance on Sudan.

Another artist involved in the Games came forward this week to disavow his involvement in the Games. Ai Weiwei, the man behind the design of China's National Olympic Stadium, told the Guardian with reference to the Beijing Games: "I hate the kind of feeling stirred up by promotion or propaganda . . . It's the kind of sentiment when you don't stick to the facts, but try to make up something, to mislead people away from a true discussion. It is not good for anyone."

Seeing the Games as a means for the Chinese Communist Party to bolster its legitimacy, he said he wished his involvement be "forgotten." "If you read newspapers today you see the problems created by [the state] and by the effort to maintain power. It is against everything that human society should be fighting for," he told the newspaper.

On Aug. 7, Tibetan rights activists–including three Canadians–made international headlines when they unfurled a banner on the Great Wall of China. The banner, which stayed on the wall for two hours, read: "One World, One Dream, Free Tibet"–a play on the Beijing Olympic's slogan "One World, One Dream." The protesters were detained for 36 hours and interrogated before being deported.

In an effort to prevent similar occurrences during the Games themselves, the Chinese regime is reportedly compiling intelligence information on foreigners who might have reason to protest during the Games, including activist groups, non-government organizations, and even some Christian organizations, according to the Associate Press.

Yet it's not only foreigners who have reason to protest the Games. Where support for the Olympics among Beijing residents was ripe back in 2001, thousands of forced evictions to make room for Olympics projects in the city have since left many disillusioned.

Last month in one Beijing neighborhood where some 1000 families were forcibly evicted from their homes without compensation, hundreds of locals staged a round-the-clock protests for over two weeks to demand redress. Their homes were torn down to make way for an Olympic park. Instead of compensating the families, police arrested and monitored some of the protesters and ordered them disbanded.

"Holding the Olympics in Beijing is wasting manpower and money, the country is still poor," said one protester, surnamed Li. "The Olympics could only put powder on the false face of the regime. The communist regime stole the land from the villagers by cheating; now it will cheat the foreigners too."

A slew of other revelations have cast a shadow on the Beijing Games recently.

A spate of health scares and recalls of Chinese-made products began in March with revelations that a Chinese ingredient in pet foods sold in North America contained rat poison. It was blamed for killing over a dozen pets.

That incident was followed by scandals involving other "made in China" products, including toothpaste that contained an ingredient of antifreeze, toxic cough syrup, children's toys covered in lead-base paint, and car tires that lacked a safety strip. Most recently, toy giant Mattell has been forced to recall millions of toys that either had lead paint or small magnets that it said could cause injury or death if swallowed.

In June, it was revealed that several brick factories China were using child slave labour. The children were abducted, abused, and forced to work in egregious conditions, while local authorities turned a blind eye.

That news was followed by allegations that a manufacturer of Beijing Olympic merchandise was using child labor. An anxious Chinese regime later stripped that company's right to produce the products.

Last week, the issue of Beijing's heavily polluted air cast a fog over ceremonies intended to celebrate the one-year countdown to the Games. Some countries warned that their athletes would not train there and IOC president Jacques Rogge even suggested that some outdoor events may need to be postponed due to pollution.

Some members of Canada's women's soccer team reported using puffers they hadn't used in years after training in Beijing this spring.

Last week Reporters Without Borders expressed concerns that Beijing was reneging on promises to allow press freedom during the Olympic Games, citing the fact that the regime continues to imprison more journalists than any other nation on earth.

Members of the organization held a small protest in Beijing to demand greater press freedom. Shortly after their demonstration, police detained foreign journalists who covered the event.

The regime in Beijing is understandably concerned about media coverage during the Games, and even more so about the potential for demonstrations. Should protests occur in the nation's capital while the whole world watches, after all, it could be the death knell for the party whose power seems to rest on secrecy.

But if recent events are any indication, more people the world over do seem to share one dream: a free China. And who knows–the Beijing Games could just be the place to make it happen.

OLYMPIC WATCH: Human Rights in China and Beijing 2008

Friday, August 10, 2007

“One World, One Dream” and Universal Human Rights

Spero News: An Open Letter to Chinese and World Leaders on the 2008 Beijing Olympics

Hu Jintao, President, People’s Republic of China

Wu Bangguo, Chair, Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress of China
Wen Jiabao, Premier of the State Council of China

Jacques Rogge, Chair, International Olympic Committee

Doru Romulus Costea, President, United Nations Human Rights Council

Louise Arbour, High Commissioner, United Nations Office for Human Rights

Leaders of democratic states concerned about promoting freedom and human rights

International NGOs concerned with human rights

Members of the communities of sports, arts and entertainment, academe, and business around the world.

Respected Leaders and Fellow World Citizens:

Upholding the fundamental principles of the Olympic spirit, including “respect for universal fundamental ethical principles” and “the harmonious development of man, with a view to promoting a peaceful society concerned with the preservation of human dignity” (Olympic Charter, Preamble);

Taking note of the Chinese government’s official 2008 Olympic theme “One World, One Dream” and the Beijing Olympic Committee’s stated objectives of hosting an “Open, Green, and Humane Olympics”; and

Mindful of the growing number of questions and criticisms in our own society and from around the world about the violations of the human rights of Chinese citizens in the name of the Beijing Olympics;

We, the undersigned citizens of the People’s Republic of China, here voice our concerns and to propose changes in the ways in which our government is handling its preparations for the Olympics.

Today, August 8, 2007, marks the start of the one-year count-down to the 2008 Summer Olympics, a mega-event for China and the world. We, as citizens of the People’s Republic of China, ought to be feeling pride in our country’s glory in hosting the Games, whose purposes include the symbolization of peace, friendship, and fairness in the world community. We also ought to feel uplifted by the watchword chosen by the Beijing Olympic Committee: “One World, One Dream.”

Instead we feel disappointment and doubt as we witness the continuing systematic denial of the human rights of our fellow citizens even while--and sometimes because--Olympic preparations are moving forward. We hear “One World” and wonder: What kind of world will this be? “One Dream”? Whose dream is it that is coming true? We are gravely concerned about the question of whether authorities in our country can successfully host the Olympic Games in an authentic Olympic spirit so that the 2008 Beijing games can become an event of which China and the world community can be proud.

As the one world that we share “globalizes,” lives and dreams are becoming increasingly intertwined. One person’s “world dream,” especially if it is implemented with unchecked power, and with endorsement from the world community, can turn into misery and nightmare for others. “One world” can still be a world where people suffer discrimination, political and religious persecution, and deprivation of liberty, as well as poverty, genocide, and war. Millions of people who survived such miseries and disasters in the 20th century have come to appreciate, and to pursue, human rights. Universal human rights have become the bedrock concept in pursuing lasting peace, sustainable development, and justice.

If “one dream” is truly to belong to all cultures and communities, it must involve protection of basic rights and liberties for all. Even the powerful, the rich and privileged might be punished unjustly tomorrow if fundamental rights are not assured today.

The government that rules our country has pledged to the Chinese people and to the world to protect human rights. It has acceded to obligations under numerous international human rights conventions and treaties, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and it has amended the Chinese Constitution to include guarantees of human rights.

In order to avoid misunderstanding, and in order to alert the international community to un-Olympic conduct that tarnishes the true spirit of the Games, we, the undersigned citizens of the People’s Republic of China, endorse the government’s Olympic slogan with the following vital addition:

“One World, One Dream, and Universal Human Rights.”

Without promoting human rights, which are the fundamental principle of universal ethics in China and elsewhere, it is gratuitous to promote “One World.” Without the protection of the human rights of all Chinese citizens equally--i.e., without abolition of the rural-urban residential control system, without an end to discrimination against women and sexual, ethnic, and faith minorities, and without ending the suppression of political dissent--it is senseless to talk about “One Dream” for all of China.

China’s government has promised the International Olympic Committee to “promote human rights” and has pledged to the United Nations Human Rights Council to “uphold the highest standard of human rights.” On paper it has taken certain steps toward improving human rights--in 2003, for example, abolishing the arbitrary detention system known as “Custody and Repatriation” and in 2004 adding “human rights protection” as an amendment to China’s Constitution. We believe that the government should be able to do much more.

Little has been done, in practice, to carry out the promises that have been made on paper. On the contrary we have experienced and witnessed violations of human rights many times--in press censorship and control of the Internet, in the persecution of human rights defenders and of people who expose environmental or public health disasters, in the exploitation of poor or disadvantaged social groups and in retaliation against them when they protest, and even in abuses by corrupt officials who are involved in the construction of Olympic facilities and city beautification projects that are aimed to prepare for the Olympics. All of these actions violate not only international standards but provisions of the Chinese constitution as well.

We find no consolation or comfort in the rise of grandiose sports facilities, or a temporarily beautified Beijing city, or the prospect of Chinese athletes winning medals. We know too well how these glories are built on the ruins of the lives of ordinary people, on the forced removal of urban migrants, and on the sufferings of victims of brutal land grabbing, forced eviction, exploitation of labour, and arbitrary detention.

Out of deep affection for our motherland and our sense of duty as citizens of the world, we will do our best, and urge leaders in China and in the world community to join hands with us, to make the Beijing Olympics a turning point in China’s rise to greatness. China has the opportunity to use the Games to build true harmony on the basis of respect for human dignity and freedom and to become a respectable member of the community of civilized nations--not by loud rhetoric or brute force, but by taking actions to promote human rights at home and in the world.

In the “one world” in which we live, the dreams that are coming true in China today will significantly shape everyone’s future. Therefore, in order to promote a successful Olympics consistent with human rights, we propose the following measures:

1. Declare amnesty for all prisoners of conscience so that they can enjoy the Olympic games in freedom.

2. Open China’s borders to all Chinese citizens who have been forced into exile for their beliefs, expression, or faith, so that they can re-unite with their loved ones and celebrate the glory of the Olympics in their motherland;

3. Implement the government ordinance to allow foreign journalists to conduct interviews and reporting without pre-approval by authorities before October 17, 2008, granting Chinese journalists the same access and independence.

4. Provide fair compensation to the victims of forced evictions and land appropriations that have been done in order to construct Olympic facilities, and release people who have been detained or imprisoned (often violently) for protesting or resisting such actions.

5. Protect the rights of workers on all Olympic construction sites, including their right to organize independent labour unions; end discrimination against rural migrant labourers and give them fair compensation.

6. End police operations intended to intercept, detain, or send home petitioners who try to travel to Beijing to complain about local officials’ misconduct; abolish illegal facilities used for incarcerating, interrogating, and terrorizing petitioners; end the “clean up” operations aimed at migrants that demolish their temporary housing and close down schools for their children.

7. Establish a system of citizen oversight over Olympics spending and provide public accounting and independent auditing of Olympics-related expenditures; make the process of awarding contracts to businesses transparent, and hold legally accountable any official who embezzles or wastes public funds.

We further suggest setting up an independent Beijing Olympics Watch Committee, composed of independent experts and representatives of non-governmental organizations and affected communities such as migrant labourers and people who have been forcibly relocated. This Committee would oversee the implementation of the above proposals. It should be allowed to operate independently, to examine plans, to interview freely, and to release its findings to the public. Citizen participation is key to a successful Olympics.

If proposals even as straightforward as the foregoing cannot be adopted, we feel certain that the Beijing Olympics will not go down in history as the glorious events that everyone wishes them to be. We do not want to “politicize” the Olympic movement. However, pushing the Games through in ways that violate human rights and that hurt people who are forced into silence, all in the name of a “dream” that belongs only to “some” people, not our whole world, will only plant seeds of resentment that will exacerbate the crises in China and affect the future of the world.

Sincerely yours,

Signed (name followed by location of residence and profession):

DING Zilin 丁子霖(Beijing, professor, leader of “Tiananmen Mothers”

LIU Xiaobo 刘晓波(Beijing, writer, president of independent Chinese PEN

BAO Zhunxin 包遵信(Beijing, historian

YU Haocheng 于浩成(Beijing, legal scholar

DAI Qing 晴(Beijing, writer/journalist

BAO Tong 彤(Beijing, former member of CCP Central Committee

JIANG Peikun 蒋培坤(Beijing, professor

ZHANG Xianling 张先玲(Beijing, engineer, leading member of “Tiananmen Mothers”

JIANG Qisheng 江棋生(Beijing, scientist/writer

CHEN Ziming 陈子明(Beijing, scholar

ZHANG Zhuhua 张祖桦(Beijing, Scholar

LIAO Yiwu 廖亦武(Sichuan, writer

WANG Yi 怡(Sichuan, scholar

JIAO Guobiao 焦国标(Beijing, scholar/writer

CHEN Xiaoya 陈小雅(Beijing, scholar/writer

LIU Junning 刘军宁(Beijing, scholar

XU Youyu 徐友渔(Beijing, scholar at Chinese Academy of Social Science

HE Weifang 贺卫方(Beijing, professor, Beijing University

XIA Yeliang 夏业良(Beijing, economist

AI Xiaoming 艾晓明(Guangzhou, professor

ZHANG Hong 闳(Shanghai, professor

YU Jie 杰(Beijing, writer

YU Shichun 余世存(Beijing, scholar/writer

MA Bo 波(Beijing, writer

FU Guoyong 傅国涌(Zhejiang, writer

RANG Yunfei 冉云飞(Sichuan, writer

GAO Yu 瑜(Beijing, journalist

ZAN Aizong 昝爱宗(Zhejiang, journalist

PU Zhiqiang 浦志强(Beijing, lawyer

TENG Biao 彪(Beijing, lawyer

ZHUANG Daohe 庄道鹤(Zhejiang, lawyer

XIA Lin 霖(Beijing, lawyer

HU Jia 佳(Beijing, independent activist

WEN Kejian 温克坚(Zhejiang, writer

ZHAO Dagong 赵达功(Shenzhen, writer

QIN Geng 耕(Hainan, writer

WANG Debang 王德邦(Beijing, writer

OLYMPIC WATCH: Human Rights in China and Beijing 2008

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Human rights group lights torch for Beijing games boycott

A woman, playing the role of a priestess, raises a torch during the lighting ceremony of a global human rights torch relay in Athens, August 9, 2007. Hundreds of human rights activists and spectators gathered in central Athens to launch the relay urging the boycott of next year's Beijing Olympics over what they said was China's dismal human rights record. REUTERS/Yiorgos Karahalis
A woman, playing the role of a priestess, raises a torch during the lighting ceremony of a global human rights torch relay in Athens, August 9, 2007. Hundreds of human rights activists and spectators gathered in central Athens to launch the relay urging the boycott of next year's Beijing Olympics over what they said was China's dismal human rights record. REUTERS/Yiorgos Karahalis

Karolos Grohmann, Reuters - Published: Thursday, August 09, 2007

ATHENS (Reuters) - Hundreds of human rights activists from across the world gathered in central Athens on Thursday to launch a global torch relay urging the boycott of the 2008 Beijing Olympics over China's human rights record.

Beijing has been under fire for what groups say are extensive human rights violations, including against the spiritual group Falun Gong, ahead of next year's Games.

China classified Falun Gong as a cult and banned it in 1999. Since then the group has campaigned from abroad against what it says is brutal persecution of its followers in China.

Organizers of the event in the central Syntagma square, the Coalition to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong (CIPFG), said Beijing was involved in systematic "organ harvesting" from jailed Falun Gong members and other dissidents.

"We want to put enough pressure on China to stop killing its people and selling livers and kidneys to people around the world," former Canadian junior foreign minister David Kilgour told Reuters.

Kilgour, co-author of a report on Chinese "organ harvesting," said the International Olympic Committee was turning a blind eye to violations of its own charter.

IOC President Jacques Rogge on Monday fended off criticism saying the Games were a force for good but were no panacea.

"That's garbage," said Kilgour. "Jacques Rogge should know what the Olympic charter states. It talks about human dignity."

The global human rights torch relay will stop over in 25 countries and more than 100 cities in Europe, Asia, North America and Australia, organizers said.

Among the speakers were former Olympic athletes, including the 2006 Olympics luge bronze medalist Martins Rubenis from Latvia.

"The Chinese Communist Party has not fulfilled the promise to adjust the situation of human rights," Rubenis said.

Beijing marked the one-year countdown to the Games on Wednesday with spectacular celebrations in Tiananmen Square.

OLYMPIC WATCH: Human Rights in China and Beijing 2008

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Amnesty in China Olympics warning

BBC: China risks spoiling the legacy of next year's Beijing Olympics unless it takes urgent measures to stop human rights abuses, Amnesty International has said.

In a report, the group accused China's authorities of detaining activists and journalists without trial in a "clean up" of the capital before the games.

Amnesty urged the country to halt those practices and to be more open about the number of people it executes.

Organisers have repeatedly expressed a desire to keep the games non-political.

Speaking before the Amnesty report had been issued, Jiang Xiaoyu of the Beijing organising committee said: "We welcome even more constructive criticism on faults and problems."

But he said politicising the event did not "accord with the Olympic spirit".

Positive steps

Amnesty's report said: "Official statements suggest that the Olympics are being used to justify such repression in the name of 'harmony' or 'social stability' rather than acting as a catalyst for reform."

The organisation said China had taken some positive steps in recent months by reforming the death penalty and relaxing restrictions on foreign journalists.

But Irene Khan, the organisation's secretary general, said they had also "tightened up the ability of Chinese journalists to work".

She added: "We've also seen increasing arrests of human rights activists, an increasing use of 're-education' through forced labour, and what they call enforced drug rehabilitation."

She said these concerns were still overshadowing preparations for the Olympics.

"This is a moment to be proud of the Olympic Games," she said.

"But if that pride is then stained with human rights violations, that's bad for China, it's bad for the Olympic Games and it's bad for the international community."

The Amnesty report follows a visit to Beijing by the Paris-based organisation Reporters Without Borders, which called for the release of more than 80 jailed journalists and dissidents in China.
OLYMPIC WATCH: Human Rights in China and Beijing 2008