Spero News: An Open Letter to Chinese and World Leaders on the 2008
Hu Jintao, President, People’s Republic of
Wu Bangguo, Chair, Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress of China
Wen Jiabao, Premier of the State Council of
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
Today, August 8, 2007, marks the start of the one-year count-down to the 2008 Summer Olympics, a mega-event for
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
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
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
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
In the “one world” in which we live, the dreams that are coming true in
1. Declare amnesty for all prisoners of conscience so that they can enjoy the Olympic games in freedom.
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.
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 戴 晴（Beijing, writer/journalist）
BAO Tong 鲍 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 王 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
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 张 闳（Shanghai, professor）
YU Jie 余 杰（Beijing, writer）
YU Shichun 余世存（Beijing, scholar/writer）
MA Bo 马 波（Beijing, writer）
FU Guoyong 傅国涌（Zhejiang, writer）
RANG Yunfei 冉云飞（Sichuan, writer）
GAO Yu 高 瑜（Beijing, journalist）
ZAN Aizong 昝爱宗（Zhejiang, journalist）
PU Zhiqiang 浦志强（Beijing, lawyer）
TENG Biao 滕 彪（Beijing, lawyer）
ZHUANG Daohe 庄道鹤（Zhejiang, lawyer）
XIA Lin 夏 霖（Beijing, lawyer）
HU Jia 胡 佳（Beijing, independent activist）
WEN Kejian 温克坚（Zhejiang, writer）
ZHAO Dagong 赵达功（Shenzhen, writer）
QIN Geng 秦 耕（Hainan, writer）
WANG Debang 王德邦（Beijing, writer）