Thursday, November 29, 2007

IOC official urges statement on human rights in China

Via Pema

Reuters [29 Nov 07]
by David Brunnstrom

Pal SchmittBRUSSELS, November 26 - Senior International Olympic Committee (IOC) official and European parliament member Pal Schmitt said on Monday he would urge the IOC to make a statement on human rights in China before next year’s Beijing Games.

Schmitt, 65, a fencing gold medalist for Hungary at the 1968 and 1972 Games, said the IOC had taken political stances before, such as when it suspended South Africa in 1964 over its racial separation policies. “It is time for a political statement,” he said after hearing dissidents and activists speak of a worsening human rights climate in the run up to the Games. “We can’t just close our ears to what’s happening. We did it for the apartheid regime, so let’s do it again.”

Schmitt said he did not agree with some fellow MEPS, who were urging a boycott of the Games. “So far no boycott has ever actually helped. You would be just punishing the athletes, and human rights activists themselves are saying we should organize the Games. “We want to give China an opportunity, it is a golden opportunity … but we expect them in turn to respect human rights.”

Schmitt told Reuters he had an obligation to pass European Parliament concerns to the IOC president. “There is a tremendous pressure from all directions in the world… We have a shared responsibility,” he said. Schmitt said he did not think a statement on rights would hurt IOC ties with China. “I don’t think it will poison our relationship, which it can be said is excellent. Based on this we can raise some other issues that might be inconvenient.”

Dissidents speak

Schmitt spoke after hearing contributions to the debate from two Chinese dissidents, including Hu Jia, who is currently under house arrest and who accused the Chinese government of aiming to use the Games to bolster its rule as German leader Adolf Hitler did with the 1936 Berlin Games. “On one side you have Western society and the Chinese people who are hoping the Games will bring openness and freedom, but the Chinese authorities want to use them to solidify their rule,” Hu said in an audio link via an interpreter. “They are persecuting many people and right now in China it is the peak of that persecution.”

Activists welcomed Schmitt’s pledge and questioned why the IOC had not made a statement already on China’s failure to stick to its Olympic bid pledge on media freedoms. “We are going to be watching the IOC to see that they do follow through on these issues,” said Phelim Kine of Human Rights Watch, adding that they should be dealt with just as concerns had been about air quality and infrastructure. “It’s a deal, it’s part of the package. We want them to tell the Chinese government: ‘it’s not working, fix it’.”

Sharon Hom, director of Human Rights in China, said it was important for the IOC to act. “We’ll have to see what they come up with.” she said. “The proof of the pudding is in the eating.”

(Editing by John Mehaffey)

OLYMPIC WATCH: Human Rights in China and Beijing 2008

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Human rights group reports increased political arrests in China

Jurist - Nov. 28, 2007
Natalie Hrubos at 8:03 AM ET

Photo source or description
[JURIST] Political arrests in China [JURIST news archive] more than doubled in 2006 compared to the previous year, according to a report [press release] Wednesday from human rights group Dui Hua [advocacy website]. The 2007 Chinese Law Yearbook revealed that the state arrested 604 individuals for "endangering state security" in 2006, the highest number since 2002. In 2005, China arrested 296 individuals for "endangering state security," a charge often levied by the Chinese government against dissidents and government critics.

In one high-profile case, Chinese human rights attorney Gao Zhisheng was convicted [JURIST report] by a court in Beijing of inciting subversion of state power [CECC report]. Gao gained international notice by representing controversial clients, including members of the banned sect Falun Gong [group website; BBC backgrounder]. Other high-profile subversion trials in China in 2006 resulted in the jailing of several journalists and a 10-year sentence for a teacher [JURIST reports] who posted pro-democracy essays on the Internet. AP has more.

OLYMPIC WATCH: Human Rights in China and Beijing 2008

Monday, November 19, 2007

WAN Launches "Beijing 2008" Campaign Against Repression in China


The World Association of Newspapers has called on all participants in next summer’s Beijing Olympics -- the International Olympic Committee, athletes, sponsors and other partners -- to "exert serious pressure" on China to hold the government to its promises of reform.

In a resolution issued Monday by the Board of the Paris-based organisation, WAN also praised US lawmakers for their condemnation of Yahoo, which helped Chinese police persecute and arrest cyber-reporters. At least 30 journalists and 50 cyberdissidents are currently in Chinese prisons, and Chinese media remain under the draconian control of the authorities.

"The WAN Board believes the end of ’business as usual’ in China is necessary to effect belated and needed reform, and it encourages all partners in the Games, and all companies doing business with China, to speak out about China’s human rights abuses," said the resolution, part of a global campaign by WAN to draw attention to Chinese press abuses and help free jailed journalists in the run-up to the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing.

"By all accounts, the Beijing Games are shaping up to be a showcase for China. But these events should not be allowed to take place without active opposition by participants -- the IOC, athletes, sponsors, media partners and others -- to the repressive conditions that surround the Games. Turning a blind eye to these violations of human rights would be a scandal," said WAN.

The WAN campaign also includes an international conference dedicated to the press freedom situation in China, to be held in Paris on 21 and 22 March 2008. The event, organised by WAN, the World Press Freedom Committee, Reporters Without Borders and Human Rights in China, is entitled, "2008 Olympics: Winning Press Freedom in China". For more details, contact Virginie Jouan, Co-Director of Press Freedom and Development at WAN, at

WAN will also dedicate its World Press Freedom Day activities on 3 May next year to press freedom in China. It annually prepares a package of materials that are published by thousands of newspapers world-wide.

The WAN resolution issued Monday called on the International Olympic Committee, athletes, sponsors, media partners and others "to exert serious pressure on the Chinese authorities to cease their flagrant and persistent abuses of human rights and, notably, to release from prison the dozens of journalists serving long jail sentences for freely exercising their profession."

Among those jailed journalists is Shi Tao, the laureate of the WAN Golden Pen of Freedom, who is serving a 10-year prison sentence on charges of "leaking state secrets" after he wrote an email in 2004 about media restrictions in the lead up to the 15th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre. Yahoo provided state security authorities details about Tao’s e-mail usage that ultimately allowed them to trace the message to a computer he used at the newspaper.

Full details about the case can be found here.

"The Board of WAN applauds the US House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs for its condemnation of Yahoo for helping the Chinese police to persecute and arrest cyber-reporters and suggests that this should be an inspiration for politicians world-wide to make similar denunciations," said the WAN resolution.

The House Committee on Foreign Affairs held hearings on Yahoo’s role in the Shi Tao case in November, leading Yahoo Chairman Jerry Yang to apologize to the mother of Shi Tao, and the company to settle a lawsuit brought by his family.

The full resolution can be read here.

The Paris-based WAN, the global organisation for the newspaper industry, defends and promotes press freedom and the professional and business interests of newspapers world-wide. Representing 18,000 newspapers, its membership includes 76 national newspaper associations, newspaper companies and individual newspaper executives in 102 countries, 12 news agencies and 10 regional and world-wide press groups.

Inquiries to: Larry Kilman, Director of Communications, WAN, 7 rue Geoffroy St Hilaire, 75005 Paris France. Tel: +33 1 47 42 85 00. Fax: +33 1 47 42 49 48. Mobile: +33 6 10 28 97 36. E-mail:

OLYMPIC WATCH: Human Rights in China and Beijing 2008

Friday, November 16, 2007

Beijing 2008 Olympics--Leverage for Human Rights

Here's an excellent recap of examples of grassroots effort happening now and growing calling for things to change in China before the Games. One important campaign is the Human Rights Torch Relay which is spanning on 5 continents and finishing in China next year. It represents the voice of the people concerned with the horrific human rights situation in China.

Many thanks to Have Fun Do Good blog here

The 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing is providing leverage for Tibetan, Darfurian, Burmese and Chinese human rights campaigns:

The International Campaign for Tibet created the Race for Tibet. According to their site:
"The International Olympic Committee (IOC) awarded Beijing the 2008 Olympic Games in 2001, disregarding international criticism of China's human rights record. Both the IOC and the Chinese have argued that the Games will "improve human rights in China" and therefore Tibet. However, as we approach the Games, human rights violations remain systematic and widespread, and China has implemented new restrictions on the media and freedom of information. We believe China and the IOC should be held accountable to the promises they made during Beijing's bid for the 2008 Olympics."
The Race for Tibet is asking supporters to sign a petition to Jacques Rogge, the IOC President, to hold Beijing to the standards of the Olympic Truce:
"- raise awareness and encourage political leaders to act in favour of peace;
- mobilise youth for the promotion of the Olympic ideals;
- establish contacts between communities in conflict;
- offer humanitarian support in countries at war"
Olympic Dream for Darfur's mission is to urge China to, "use its leverage to persuade the Sudanese government to consent immediately to a civilian protection force in Darfur." They've organized an international Olympic Torch Relay which began on August 9 in Chad, near the Darfur border, and will finish in China in January. Here is the route for the relay so far:

Olympic Dream for Darfur is asking supporters to write to the Olympic Corporate Sponsors, to Steven Speilberg (who signed on to be the 2008 Olympics' Artistic Director), and to the International Olympic Committee.

Lisa of ENOUGH writes in, Tell Companies Sponosoring the Chinese Olympics that Darfur is Not 'Business is Usual', "we believe that the more voices that are raised, the more hope there is for peace in Darfur. The Olympics belong to all of us, and in the face of genocide, anyone in a position of influence must try to act."

The US Campaign for Burma is asking for a boycott of the Games:
"China is paralyzing UN Security Council action on Burma. They are the main economic, military, and political supporters of the military junta. For fifteen years China has refused to press its closest ally to allow its people human rights, and used its veto power to block the UN Security Council from acting. As a result, the UN is making the same mistakes it made on Darfur and Rwanda. We are calling on people of conscience throughout the world to boycott the 2008 Chinese Olympics."
Claire of Free Aung San Suu Kyi! points out that the Olympics' start date, August 8, 2008, is the, "the 20th anniversary of the massacre of peaceful democracy activists in Burma."

Reporters Without Borders is asking China to do nine things before the Games start:

"1. Release all journalists and Internet users detained in China for exercising their right to information.

2. Abolish forever the restrictive articles in the Foreign Correspondents Guide that limit the media’s freedom of movement and work.

3. Disband the Publicity Department (the former Propaganda Department), which exercises daily control over content in the Chinese press.

4. End the jamming of foreign radio stations.

5. End the blocking of thousands of news and information websites based abroad.

6. Suspend the '11 Commandments of the Internet,' which lead to content censorship and self-censorship on websites.

7. End the blacklisting of journalists and human rights activists, which prevents them from visiting China.

8. Lift the ban on Chinese media using foreign news agency video footage and news reports without permission.

9. Legalize independent organisations of journalists and human rights activists."

Human Rights Watch has more information about human rights issues in China and links to other human rights organizations and campaigns like Olympic Watch and PlayFair2008. HRW is encouraging bloggers to use their blogs as a, "bully pulpit to stand with victims and activists to prevent discrimination, uphold basic freedoms, protect people from inhumane treatment in wartime, and campaign to bring offenders to justice."

Amnesty International has created a press kit for reporters covering the Olympics.

Requests for change are coming from within China as well.

According to the Students for Free Tibet International's blog, the Chinese government arrested a Chinese activist,
Yang Chunlin, who had collected 10,000 signatures for a petition entitled, “We want human rights, not the Olympics.”OLYMPIC WATCH: Human Rights in China and Beijing 2008

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Letter: Bring balance to Rose parade

Pasadena Star: Article Launched: 11/14/2007 06:14:21 PM PST

Opinion: Is Beijing calling the shots?

I'm referring to the article "Protest foreshadows parade controversy" (Nov. 11):

With the ongoing saga of the Rose Parade, one may wonder why Mayor Bill Bogaard and TofR President Keedy are so unwilling to bring a little balance into the parade.

Now let me get this straight.

At first they were empathetic to the many cases of human rights abuses raised by their own citizens, not to mention the numerous appeals outpouring from groups such as Human Rights Watch, Reporters without Borders, Ann Lau and the Artists Guild, the Falun Gong, Free Tibet Committee, the Coalition to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong and others. Then the city and the Tournament of Roses all had a glance at the recommendations in the human rights report presented to the City Council and all said how good it was and how bad China was, but they were awfully quick to say, "Thank you very much, no can do."

And now, the communication channels have been cut with Li, representing the Falun Gong, to renegotiate an alternative plan as promised.

I don't know much about politics, but wouldn't it make good common sense to have the Human Rights Torch as part of the parade
contingent to represent the views of Americans as proposed? This would amicably take care of the situation instead of leaving it up to the police force to deal with protests on the day of the parade.

One would think that pleasing Beijing couldn't be more important than giving a voice to Americans - but I'm afraid to ask who is calling the shots here.

If Mayor Bogaard was really serious about asserting the apolitical nature of the parade, he would have asked the sister city to stay out of it a long time ago.

What is wrong with this picture? Would somebody please remind Bogaard and Keedy that this is America! They should show some integrity here, and standing up for human rights is a good place to start.

Marie Beaulieu
Victoria BC

OLYMPIC WATCH: Human Rights in China and Beijing 2008

Doing business in a country that jails millions of dissidents

Yahoo, Cisco Systems, Microsoft
By Judi McLeod Thursday, November 15, 2007

Canada Free Press: American companies assisting Chinese government oppression can always fall back on corporate PR to downplay their roles.

When the news hit that Yahoo was settling a legal dispute with the families of two Chinese dissidents, columnists began trying to defend Yahoo by pointing out that the company isn’t the only Judas in the corporate crowd trucking with Communist China.

These columnists wanted to point out that Cisco Systems Inc. helps sends thousands of Chinese dissidents to prison by selling sophisticated Internet surveillance technology to the Peoples’ Republic of China.

Cisco is hardly alone in doing business in a Communist county that employs a 30,000-member strong Internet police force to deal with anyone pegged in kangaroo courts as a “dissident”.

Microsoft, whose charitable works with the United Nations is often lauded by the mainstream media, has actually helped the Internet cops catch Internet users, who are sent away to prison.

Google built a special search engine, Chinese style so that the ultra sensitive Chinese government can filter out things they don’t want floating around in hallowed Oriental cyberspace.

Companies working with the Chinese government can always send out media communiqués patting themselves on the back for claiming that they are on the side of democracy by virtue of lending their talent to help build China’s Internet.

Yahoo’s recent publicity from paying the families of a Chinese journalist and a dissident who were jailed after the company gave their identities to the Chinese police, distorts the main issue.

Millions of dissidents--including farmers, students and Christians--languish in Chinese-style gulags known as laogai, and because the Chinese government has a relative field day both placing and keeping them there, their numbers are skyrocketing.

The lawsuit against Yahoo was brought by Yu Ling, the wife of jailed Chinese dissident Wang Xiaonin Zion and by Gao Qinsheng, the mother of Chinese journalist Shi Tao. Both men were sentenced to 10 years in a Chinese prison.

Yahoo is not saying how much the women were paid in the lawsuit, but even millions won’t make 10 years in a Chinese prison go any faster for Wang Xiaonin and Shi Tao.

Both men were not only jailed--they were tortured, a practice that is rampant in China.

In fact, the routine torturing of prisoners is one of the reasons why China has one of the world’s worst records on Human Rights.

Ordinary people from all walks of life who get caught writing anti-government essays on the Internet, the followers of Falun Gong and Christians are treated the same in Chinese-style gulags.

While their families will be financially looked after on the outside, Wang Zion and Shi Tao can only hope the stories they heard about organs being removed from live prisoners are exaggerated.

The words of Yahoo founder Jerry Yang, in announcing the settlement sound noble: “It was clear to me what we had to do to make this right for them, for Yahoo and for the future. Yahoo was founded on the idea that the free exchange of information can change how people lead their lives, conduct their business and interact with their governments. We are committed to making sure our actions match our values.”

But the words of Jerry Yang, carried by the Western media will never be heard by the millions in China’s prisons.

The only words that matter to them would be, “You are free to go, to return home to your waiting families.” Words that never come to those lost and forgotten by the outside world.

Dissidents in China rely more on surviving each day than they do on empty Public Relations.

Those dissidents say that they still face danger in using the Internet to spread their message, the recent pledge by Yahoo to protect their right to confidentiality notwithstanding.

“Yesterday dissidents wanting to share their thoughts with others in China said that the settlement would not reduce the dangers they faced. (Timesonline, Nov. 15, 2007). “One man, who has spent most of the past 18 years in jail, said that Chinese wanting to exercise freedom of expression had no choice but to use the internet and thus expose their writings to China’s cyberspace police.

He said: “The point is, the authorities know exactly what is being said and being written by people with dissenting views. They know all these people. The only question is whether they want to pick someone up and jail them.”

Not only western multinationals continue to do big business with China, but also so do Western governments like Canada and the United States.

Where is the incentive for the Communist regime in China to improve its appalling record on human rights when they know that Western corporations and governments rely on doing brisk business with them?

With one Chinese export after another being found dangerous to consumers, exports arriving daily, make it to the store shelves.

As for the big media question game asking which American company has created the greater evil, Yahoo, or Microsoft et al?

All of them, that’s who. Profiting from a country that jails--and tortures--millions of dissidents puts them in the same category of evil.

Posted 11/15 at 07:23 AM Email (Permalink) OLYMPIC WATCH: Human Rights in China and Beijing 2008

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Chinese media told to avoid negative Olympic coverage 11/13/2007 16:25

Chinese reporters told not to cover pollution, tainted food, the torch relay and the Paralympics. They should instead try to influence their foreign colleagues with positive stories. Meanwhile authorities are preparing a big foreign journalists database.

Beijing (AsiaNews) – The Central Publicity Department has issued a warning telling mainland editors to stay away from negative coverage of the Olympic Games. The notice ordered journalists to steer clear of Olympics-related story and topics that could show the country in a bad light. They include topics like air quality, pollution, food safety, the latest tainted food scare, the torch relay and Taiwan, the Paralympics and recent cases of violence against the disabled.

The message comes at a time when the Beijing Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (BOCOG) went on a charm offensive to win over overseas media critics.

BOCOG has offered Beijing-based foreign correspondents a series of organised tours of some previously off-limits Games-related sites and organised interviews last week with a number of hard-to-reach sports officials and celebrity athletes. More reporters were also ferried to the workshops of two Olympics food suppliers. This in itself is quite unusual since questions are usually answered and interviews organised after long waiting periods.

The warning sent to Chinese editors also urged them to print more positive stories about the Olympics in order to influence their foreign colleagues.

By the same token, the authorities are planning a database of foreign reporters covering the games as a reference to would-be interviewees.

The database would include 8,000 foreign journalists accredited to report from inside Olympic Games venues, and 20,000 allowed to report outside.

It will be used to crackdown on fake reporters who might use the Olympics to come to China and interview anyone.

Beijing is concerned that pro-democracy activists, Falun Gong members or Tibetans might infiltrate the country as journalists.

OLYMPIC WATCH: Human Rights in China and Beijing 2008

Monday, November 12, 2007

The danger in Chinese impunity

Taipei Times: Editorial - Tuesday, Nov 13, 2007, Page 8 The danger in Chinese impunity

The closer we get to the Beijing Olympics, the more China resembles global warming: We're all aware of the problem, it threatens every one of us and we can all do something about it. But we choose not to.

The evidence of Beijing's dereliction continues to pile up. From toys that can have the same effect as a "date rape" drug if swallowed to the systematic detention of dissidents of all stripes to the arming of gross violators of human rights abroad, China remains an irresponsible stakeholder with relative impunity, thanks partly to international acquiescence to its demand that no one meddle in its affairs.

When a state acts irresponsibly in the 21st century, everybody is at risk. As China expands its interactions with the global economy, domestic matters can no longer be treated in isolation from the outside world.

Problems stemming from the trade in dangerous goods, criminal negligence, lack of official oversight and mere incompetence pose a threat to consumers of Chinese products. But because China is likely to remain a manufacturer's paradise for some years to come, it is not unreasonable for the international community to give it a certain amount of time to make necessary adjustments.

Where the world should be less patient, however, is on matters where adjustments need to be immediate. Human rights and espionage come to mind.

Despite commitments it made as a future host of the Olympics, Beijing has continued to violate media freedoms. As Human Rights Watch reported last week: "Foreign correspondents routinely face harassment, detention and intimidation at the hands of Chinese security forces and plainclothes thugs who appear to operate at official behest."

Nothing underscores this reality better than a BBC correspondent who spent a day in detention for covering simmering unrest, only to find that in the meantime the bolts holding the wheels of his car to the chassis had been tampered with.

The International Olympic Committee is fully aware of these transgressions, but Beijing will not be rebuked. And if it is allowed to act in such a manner with foreign correspondents, one can only imagine how the government must be treating people far from the gaze of journalists and cameras of the international press.

By giving Beijing a free hand to harass and endanger foreign journalists, the international community condones repression in China.

With regard to espionage, US Director of National Intelligence Michael McConnell told a House of Representatives hearing in September that Chinese espionage activities against the US were "reaching Cold War levels," while in April the Canadian Security Intelligence Service said Chinese spies were stealing US$1 billion in technological secrets every month and that almost half of its counter-intelligence efforts were against China.

Given Beijing's close and sometimes inseparable relationship with the private sector, the recent discovery of spyware on Chinese-made portable hard drives -- which collects information on computers and beames it to servers in Beijing -- also points to the possibility of state involvement in the gathering of intelligence through exporters. As China sells more electronics abroad, opportunities to use such technology to conduct espionage can only multiply.

Failure to hold Beijing accountable on these serious matters will only encourage it to amplify its repression in areas where the international community has less say.OLYMPIC WATCH: Human Rights in China and Beijing 2008

Friday, November 09, 2007

Canadian Falun Gong members upset after broadcaster pulls documentary at China's request

More Canadian news. This is the latest update. Look here for some insights on this situation.

AP - 2007-11-10 01:20:12 - TORONTO (AP) - Canada's national news broadcaster said Friday that it has asked for cuts before it will air a heavily-promoted Falun Gong documentary that it pulled from its schedule at the request of Chinese officials.
The government-owned news network CBC had planned to air the documentary, «Beyond the Red Wall: The Persecution of Falun Gong,» on Tuesday, but postponed its showing after receiving calls from the Chinese Embassy and the consulate in Toronto, said network spokesman Jeff Keay.

The film will be aired on Nov. 20 after the filmmaker, Peter Rowe, makes cuts recommended by the network, said Keay.

Keay would not elaborate on the cuts. Rowe did not immediately return calls.

«We want to make sure it's an absolutely rigorous piece of work because it's become clear. . . that there's a lot of interest in this thing,» Keay said. «We want to make sure it's a solid piece of work that will stand up to intense scrutiny.

Canadian Falun Gong spokesman Joel Chipkar said the cuts are related to execution pictures, since the network was concerned about whether they were actually Falun Gong members.

China maintains that Falun Gong is a cult that threatens political stability. Rowe's film argues that Chinese authorities spread false news reports to make the group look dangerous and unstable.

CBC had advertised the broadcast for days in advance. It had already aired it on its French-language network Radio-Canada and in English late at night on the CBC in 2006 without promotion.

Rowe said in an earlier interview he was surprised to hear from the CBC only a few hours before the documentary was to air since it was licensed by the CBC in 2004 and he was told it had been reviewed by the broadcaster's lawyers late last year.

«If the American government had tried to put this pressure on the CBC not to run this kind of documentary, you can imagine what kind of reaction they would have had internally,» said Rowe. «With China, it's felt like we have to treat them in a very special way.

Members of Falun Gong in Canada said the Chinese government is trying to control media outside China as well.

«The Chinese government has been trying to silence the media about Falun Gong for years in China, so we're not surprised they contacted the CBC,» Chipkar saud.

«But we are surprised the CBC bent to their demands, that they gave in to the communist pressure. It leaves them with a black mark on their attitude towards human principles,» he said.

Both Rowe and Chipkar argued that the CBC's decision was influenced in part by the fact that the network will be the main Canadian broadcaster of the Beijing Olympics next summer.

Keay denied that claim.

According to a monitoring group, China secretly issued an order banning Falun Gong activists from next year's Olympics, saying that they were a threat and would hurt the image of the games.

Human rights organizations have reported executions and torture of Falun Gong members by Beijing after the movement was banned eight years ago as an «evil cult» following a mass protest outside government headquarters.

OLYMPIC WATCH: Human Rights in China and Beijing 2008

Report: China Issues Broad Olympic Ban--Black list

China Security Issued Blacklist of 43 Types of People in 11 Categories to be Barred from Attending Olympic Games; Religious People Under Strict Scrutiny. Also reported by CFP and AP

Author: China Aid Association,,

MIDLAND, Texas, Nov. 8 /Christian Newswire/ -- CAA learned from reliable internal Chinese government sources that in April of 2007, the Ministry of Public Security of the Chinese government issued a general nation-wide order, requiring strict examinations on all people both in China and overseas who will participate in the Olympic Games. These include members of the Olympic Committee, athletes, media and sponsors. With this, they also provide a list of 43 types of people in 11 categories to be barred from attending the Olympic Games.

In early April of 2007, the Ministry of Public Security secretly issued to public security departments throughout the country a document entitled "Notice on Strict Background Check on Applicants for the Olympic Games and the Test Events." This is the origin of the "43-type & 11-category" blacklist.

11 categories of people:
1. Antagonistic elements.
2. Adherents of Falun Gong, other cults and harmful Qigong organizations.
3. Religious extremists and religious infiltrators.
4. Secessionists of ethnic minorities.
5. Media employees who can harm the Olympic Games.
6. Non-government organizations engaging in activities that can pose a real threat to the Olympic Games.
7. Dangerous elements, key petitioners and other people who have serious grievances against the Party.
8. People for whom the judicial authorities have filed a case for investigation or have adopted forced criminal or administrative measures.
9. Criminals under surveillance, on probation, parole, medical parole or criminals deprived of their political rights or serving their sentence outside the prison, and people placed in the programs of reformation through labor or serving their sentence outside the reformation centers.
10. Terrorists.
11. Members of illegal organizations.

The 11 categories are further divided into 43 types of people:

Category One: Antagonistic elements
1. Overseas anti-China forces and members of antagonistic organizations.
2. Key figures in ideological disputes.
3. Active participants in illegal prenatal sex identification procedures for non-medical purposes and frequent traffic violators in running red lights and J-walking.
4. Antagonistic elements inside China .
5. Family members of people injured, disabled and killed in unrest and riots who currently still pose a threat.
6. People who have once been sentenced to criminal penalty on conviction of counter-revolutionary activities or other crimes of endangering the security of the state, their immediate family members and people having close contact with them.
7. People who have fled overseas and people they have close contact with.

Category Two: Adherents of Falun Gong, other cult organizations and members of harmful Qigong organizations
1. Adherents of Falun Gong and other cult organizations and people who have once practiced Falun Gong and its derivative breathing exercises.
2. Members from 14 categories of organizations confirmed by the relevant authorities of the state as a cult in the disguise of a religion and members from seven categories of their derivative organizations.
3. Members from 14 categories of Qigong organizations confirmed by the relevant authorities of the state as harmful.

Category Three: Religious extremists and religious infiltrators
1. Members of illegal religious organizations both in China and abroad.
2. Members who have been caught by the Chinese authorities for engaging in illegal religious activities.
3. People who have given illegal sermons.
4. People who illegally distribute religious publications and video/audio materials.
5. People who have illegally established both in China and abroad religious organizations, institutions, schools, sermon sites and other religious entities.

Category Four: Secessionists of ethnic minorities
1. The "three forces" of Xinjiang and their contacts both in China and abroad.
2. Members of Dalai Lama’s exile government and its affiliates.
3. People who have participated in parades, demonstrations and protests for ethnic secessions.
4. Members who have provided funds for ethnic secessionist organizations or activities both in China and abroad.

Category Five: Media employees who can harm the Olympic Games
1. Employees of overseas media working for institutions and organizations hostile to China .
2. Media employees who persist on a long-term basis in their anti-Party attitudes and maliciously vilify the Party and the government.

Category Six: Non-government organizations engaging in activities that pose a threat to the Olympic Games
1. Non-government organizations outside China who have connections with overseas governments and who engage in infiltration, subversion and sabotage against our Party and government.
2. Members of all types of non-government organizations who pose a potential threat to the Beijing Olympic Games.

Category Seven: Dangerous elements, key petitioners and other people who harbor serious grievances against the Party
1. People who harbor serious grievances against our Party and government.
2. People who have repeatedly filed frivolous lawsuits and petitions.
3. People who have complained against China to the foreigners and who collude with overseas forces.

Category Eight: People for whom the judicial authorities have filed a case for investigation or have adopted forced criminal or administrative measures.
1. People for whom the Public Security agencies have filed a case for investigation.
2. People whose residences are under surveillance and who are pending trial on a bail.
3. People who have been detained or arrested on suspicion of crimes and who have been released with the suspicion not fully lifted.
4. All types of people who are on the run from the law or who have escaped from the crime or justice.
5. People who have been listed as wanted and investigated by the authorities or whose name has been circulated for general attention.
6. Criminal suspects to whom border exit restrictions have been applied.

Category Nine: Criminals under surveillance, on probation, parole, medical parole or criminals deprived of their political rights or serving their sentence outside the prison, and people placed in the programs of reformation through labor or serving their sentence outside the reformation centers.
1. Criminals who have been sentenced to surveillance and who have been deprived of their political rights and who are on probation.
2. Criminals sentenced to parole, or serving sentence outside the prison but still under surveillance or criminals detained outside the prison.
3. People sentenced to serving their time outside the reformation-through-labor centers.
4. People allowed to seek medical treatment outside the detention and reformation center or people allowed to go out on leave.

Category Ten: Violent terrorists
1. Members of terrorist organizations.
2. People who provide support and assistance to terrorist organizations and their members.
3. Relatives of members of terrorist organizations or people who have close contact with members of terrorist organizations.

Category Eleven: Members of illegal organizations
1. Members of political organizations not legally registered.
2. People engaging in activities in the name of an organization that is not legally registered.
3. People from illegal organizations who use the Internet to establish ties with each other and who whip up discontent against the Party.

While CAA understands the legitmate security concern during Olympics, nevertheless we urges the Chinese government to be more transparent regarding the preparation of 2008 Beijing Olympics. We call upon the Chinese government not to use Olympics as a cover to engage crackdown on peaceful people of faith both in China and abroad.

OLYMPIC WATCH: Human Rights in China and Beijing 2008

CBC A Division of China Central Television & media outlet for the Chinese Communist Party in Canada

By OnTheWeb: Clive Ansley Friday, November 9, 2007 - Look here for the original movie.

Canada Free Press: On Tuesday, November 6, CBC television was scheduled to show a documentary entitled “Beyond the Red Wall”. This film focuses on the vicious persecution of Falun Gong practitioners in China, highlighting the illegal nature of the persecution, the use of torture, and the horrific fact that Falun Gong practitioners are today being slaughtered on demand to facilitate theft of their organs and resale of those organs to foreign “organ tourists”. David Kilgour, co-author of the comprehensive report which sets out the evidence of this “new form of evil on the planet”, is interviewed on the film. Also featured are Zhang Kunlun, a McGill University professor and Canadian Citizen who, on a visit to China, was thrown into a Labour Camp and tortured for three years, solely because of his Falun Gong beliefs.

Former Justice Minister, Irwin Cotler, is also described as “speaking passionately” about the persecution of Falun Gong. I am also interviewed in this film on the subject of the Chinese “judicial system”, or lack thereof, my call for a boycott of the 2008 Olympics, and the collaboration of the Chretien and Martin governments with the perpetrators of the worst atrocities the world has seen since the days of the Third Reich in Germany.

CBC had purchased this documentary from its producer, Peter Rowe, last March. Subsequently, it required Rowe to edit the film, primarily to delete certain charges against the Chinese government and to allow more extensive comment on Falun Gong by Chinese diplomatic officials.

Rowe complied and CBC management gave final approval to the edited version last spring. For weeks, CBC had been promoting the film.
Hours before it was to air, CBC pulled the film and replaced it with a re-run whitewash of Pakistan’s dictator.

Spokesmen for CBC lied about the reasons for the recall to a series of inquirers. One story was that there were “contractual issues”. Not with the producer, there weren’t. All contract issues between him and CBC had been finalized long ago. If there is a contractual issue, it consists solely of the fact that CBC has the Canadian contract for televising of the “Bloody Harvest Olympics” in Beijing next year. There is little doubt that Beijing threatened our national broadcaster with loss of this contract in the event that CBC were to allow Canadian audiences to view “Beyond the Red Wall”.

A second version was that the crisis in Pakistan pre-empted Peter Rowe’s film and that Pakistan was of immediate topical interest. That lie is particularly transparent. The crisis in Pakistan was almost a week old. Urgent up to the minute coverage could have been injected at any time. The film shown hardly touched the current crisis; it was an old film, essentially covering a dinner party conversation in which the dictator’s mother enthused about how he had always exhibited “leadership qualities”, even as a child, and the dictator himself was allowed to praise his own benevolence without challenge.

The truth is that Chinese diplomatic officials had contacted CBC, and had employed at least one long known Chinese Communist Party Agent to orchestrate a campaign against showing the film, which they denounced as “all lies”. How they could know this is unclear since no one has yet seen the film. CBC itself has acknowledged the intervention by Beijing, but has said only that it decided to ask for further editing after “it had become clear over the last 24-36 hours” that there was a great interest in this film.

It is common knowledge that China’s media is totally controlled by the Chinese state and the Chinese Communist Party. For the past 8 years the Communist Party has used its media monopoly to vilify Falun Gong; Falun Gong practitioners, in contrast, have been totally stifled and have never had any means of replying to the spurious charges of the Beijing dictatorship. The Chinese media has regularly charged that the teachings of Li Hongzhi, founder and leader of Falun Gong, have led to widespread crimes by Falun Gong adherents in China, including murder, mass murder, suicides, infanticides, and rape.

But strangely, the teachings of Li Hongzhi would appear to have these toxic effects exclusively on disciples resident in China. Today, there are hundreds of thousands of Falun Gong practitioners in North and South America, Europe, Africa, Australia, and other countries of Asia. But for some strange reason, the only Falun Gong practitioners ever charged with “crimes” outside of China are three women practitioners convicted in Singapore of passing out literature without a permit.

Human rights advocates the world over lament the Beijing government’s consistent suppression of accurate news reports in China, and its determination to ensure that Chinese citizens never receive fair and accurate information about Falun Gong. Now it is apparent that Beijing has the power to approve or disapprove what is broadcast by news services in democratic countries. CBC is apparently quite comfortable with the idea that what Canadians are allowed to see or hear should be determined by the Chinese Communist Party in Beijing.

Clive Ansley
President of CIPFG/Coalitiion to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong
China Country Monitor Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada

Posted 11/9 at 08:55 AM Email (Permalink)

This piece is in Category: Cover Story OLYMPIC WATCH: Human Rights in China and Beijing 2008

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Beijing denies banning the Bible at the Olympics

Updated Thu. Nov. 8 2007 2:20 PM ET The Associated Press - BEIJING -- Beijing Olympic organizers angrily disputed allegations of religious intolerance Thursday, saying Bibles and other religious items for personal use will be welcome at next summer's games -- except for the banned Falun Gong spiritual movement.

Recent reports by a religious news agency and European media saying Bibles would be banned at the Olympics touched off an outcry that prompted a U.S. senator to call the Chinese ambassador for an explanation and a Christian athletes group to protest the "deep violation."

Beijing organizers flatly denied the reports, and the Foreign Ministry charged the allegations were likely the work of people who want to sabotage Beijing's hosting of the games.

"There is no such thing. This kind of report is an intentional distortion of truth," said Li Zhanjun, director of the Beijing Olympics media center.

He said texts and other items from major religious groups that are brought into China for personal use by athletes and visitors are permitted. The Beijing Olympics Web site said "each traveler is recommended to take no more than one Bible into China."

Li also said religious services -- Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu and Buddhist -- will be available to athletes in the Olympic Village.

However, he said, the policies do not apply to Falun Gong, reasserting China's determination to eradicate the movement. Falun Gong was banned eight years ago as an "evil cult" after its members staged a mass protest outside government headquarters to demand official recognition.

The State Department says Falun Gong practitioners in China face arrest, detention and possible torture as members overseas maintain a vigorous campaign of protest against China's government.

"We don't recognize it because it's a cult," Li said. "So Falun Gong texts, Falun Gong activities in China are forbidden. Foreigners who come to China must respect and abide by the laws of China."

China's leadership is using the Summer Olympics to project a positive image of the country. Venue construction has hummed at a record pace, and Beijing is so eager to host a flawless event that it enacted campaigns to stomp out speaking poor English, spitting, littering and cutting in line.

Yet preparations have been tarred by complaints about China's human rights abuses and Beijing's choking smog. The regime also has drawn criticism over its support for Sudan's Arab-dominated government, an oil supplier accused of atrocities against ethnic Africans in Darfur.

The games have now cast a spotlight on religion, which is heavily regulated in China by the officially atheist ruling Communist party. Worship is legal only in party-controlled churches, temples and mosques, and those who attend others face harassment, arrest and terms in labor camps or prison.

Bibles are printed under government supervision and can be sold only in approved churches, according to the Web site of China's State Administration for Religious Affairs. Visitors can bring in religious texts for personal use, but no more than three copies of each, said an official at the agency's regulation department, who refused to give his name.

In a statement, the International Olympic Committee said the news articles reporting a Bible ban stemmed from a misunderstanding of what was said at an October briefing in Beijing during which items banned from import into China were discussed.

"It is clear that athletes coming to the games are able to bring with them religious items for personal use, as in previous games, to the Olympic venues," the statement said.

Speaking at a regularly scheduled news conference, Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said the media reports pointed to attempts to undermine China's Olympic glory.

"There are some people out there who do not want to see China hold a successful games," Liu said.

OLYMPIC WATCH: Human Rights in China and Beijing 2008

Where's the IOC's voice on press freedom in China?

Special to Globe and Mail Update by PHELIM KINE

HONG KONG — Today is Journalists' Day in China, but there's no reason for celebration by reporters who cover the world's most populous nation.

Like any other day, journalists in China will be subjected to routine harassment by a government that continues to defy its pledges to a free media. What's dismaying this year is that the International Olympic Committee — an organization that says it is dedicated to "ethical principles" and "preservation of human dignity" — is passively accepting such blatant violations of the Chinese government's Olympic-related media-freedom commitments.

In order to play host to the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, the Chinese government promised the IOC that it would relax its chokehold on foreign media coverage during the Games. New, temporary regulations permitting foreign journalists to talk to any consenting interviewees went into effect on Jan. 1, freeing correspondents from a long-standing regulatory handcuff that requires government approval for almost all interviews. That should be good news for the many Canadian journalists who will join the more than 20,000 foreign journalists who will cover the Games in Beijing.

The temporary regulations look good on paper. Yet, foreign correspondents continue to harassed, detained and intimidated by government functionaries, security forces and growing ranks of plainclothes thugs who appear to operate at official behest. The IOC's failure to speak out about such violations will put those journalists who go to Beijing at risk of similar abuses.

In the past two months alone, an Agence France-Presse reporter and an American colleague were detained in a public park in central Beijing for the "crime" of taking photographs of an informal matchmaking service. Guards seized and roughed up a foreign television crew that had discovered an illegal detention centre in Beijing for petitioners — rural citizens who come by the thousands to Beijing seeking redress for official injustices. The journalists were turned over to police, who held them for six hours and accused them of, among other offences, "illegally filming a government building." And a BBC correspondent's trip to cover simmering unrest in a village in Hebei province resulted in a day in police detention; he later discovered that the bolts holding his car's wheels to the chassis had been tampered with.

It would be disingenuous for the IOC to say it is unaware of routine violations of media freedom in China. These have been meticulously documented and published by the media, as well as by groups such as Human Rights Watch, the Committee to Protect Journalists, and Reporters Without Borders.

So how has the IOC responded? Has it criticized China's failure to honour its commitments? Anthony Edgar, the IOC's head of media operations, said in Beijing in September: "The Chinese government committed itself a long time ago to media working in China as freely as in other countries, in accordance with IOC and international practices, [and] I think they are working well at the moment." What would have to occur for the IOC to judge it not to be working well?

Of course, China hasn't just made commitments on media freedom to the IOC. It has made them to its own people through its constitution and to the rest of the world by signing the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

None of the attacks or threats against foreign journalists come as a surprise to Chinese reporters and the local assistants, researchers and translators, who continue to labour under the boot of a state propaganda machine that viciously punishes those who fail to toe the Communist Party line on what constitutes acceptable news. Sadly, China made commitments to the IOC only about freedom for foreign journalists. But, as China fails to meet even these agreements, the IOC has an obligation to talk straight in private and public about reality on the ground.

Article 51 of the Olympic Charter stipulates that the IOC must take "all necessary steps in order to ensure the fullest coverage by the different media and the widest possible audience in the world for the Olympic Games." IOC members have responded promptly and publicly about their concerns that the Chinese government may not be able to deliver on its environmental commitments for the Beijing Games; surely it can do the same for journalists? Indeed, the IOC has stood up to China on other issues. It balked at a plan to stage beach volleyball in Tiananmen Square, where tanks and troops crushed the student democracy demonstrations in 1989. The Chinese government agreed to relocate the competition.

The IOC's reluctance to speak out on press freedom is especially curious given its past attention to less pressing issues. When some high-spirited members of the U.S. Olympic team wore Mickey Mouse ears or carried signs that read "Hi, Mom" during the opening ceremonies of the 1988 Seoul Games, the IOC fired off a letter to the U.S. Olympic Committee decrying "scandalous" behaviour that gave the world "a very bad impression" of U.S. Olympians.

This hesitance to speak clearly to the Chinese government about press freedom and other key human-rights issues should end. With less than a year to the Beijing Games, it's past time for the IOC — and national Olympic committees, including Canada's — to rediscover its voice. China will not call off the Games over disputes about media freedom or human rights, so the IOC has leverage to demand changes in how China treats journalists. A failure to act now will leave a stain on the IOC's reputation that will linger long after the last Olympic athlete leaves Beijing.

Phelim Kine is a researcher in Human Rights Watch's Asia division.

OLYMPIC WATCH: Human Rights in China and Beijing 2008

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

China's Biggest Olympics Test

By Doug Bandow

The Spectator:
Published 11/7/2007 12:07:07 AM - The Beijing Olympics are less than a year away. While China's extensive construction program is well under way, the People's Republic of China (PRC) is retrogressing on its promise to the International Olympic Committee to improve human rights.

A Beijing television reporter recently was sentenced to one year in prison for allegedly fabricating a story that Chinese dumpling makers used cardboard as filler. The PRC declared that it was targeting "false news reports, unauthorized publications, and bogus journalists."

Yet the report may have been true -- government officials and the police discouraged any other journalists from investigating the charge. This campaign was thought to be an attempt to discourage aggressive reporting in advance of the Communist Party congress, which convened in mid-October.

But the Chinese government is most concerned about potential protests during the Olympics. In August a group of Chinese intellectuals wrote an open letter to the Communist Party requesting that it honor its commitment to respect human rights: repression "violates the Olympic spirit," they argued.

Western human rights advocates have promised to use the international contest to highlight abuses by Beijing. John MacAloon, an Olympic historian at the University of Chicago, predicts that "All of these voices are going to become stronger and stronger; not weaker and weaker, as the Games approach." Thus, the PRC authorities must attempt to preserve enough national openness to highlight the country's economic success while limiting media access enough to prevent critics from highlighting the government's human rights failure.

Beijing shows increasing confidence in its dealings with the world. At home, however, the Chinese leadership evidently fears its own people.

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL RECENTLY PUBLISHED a report on the status of human rights in China, and the overall news is disappointing. Reports AI: "with just one year to go before the Olympics take place in Beijing, many in China and abroad are beginning to look ahead to assess the likely legacy of the Games for human rights in China." Unfortunately -- but not surprisingly- -the communist government has failed to live up to its promise to improve. Concluded Amnesty:

While positive steps have been made in some limited areas, namely reform of the death penalty system and greater reporting freedom for foreign journalists in China, Amnesty International remains concerned that these are overshadowed by other negative developments -- in particular the growing crackdown on Chinese human rights activists and journalists as well as the continued use of "Re-education through Labour" (RTL) and other forms of detention without trial. 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.

Repression is on the rise. Earlier this year Human Rights Watch reported that the Chinese government was engaging in its "largest 'clean-up' of protestors and rights activists in years." Explained HRW, "China's annual session of the National People's Congress (NPC) in Beijing has been marred by increasingly violent crackdowns on protesters, petitioners and rights activists across the country and a surge in house arrests of activists." Beijing employs violent thugs as well as police to break up demonstrations.

Moreover, notes Amnesty, "the authorities have used the Olympic Games as a pretext to extend the use of two forms of detention without trial: 'Re-education through Labour' and 'Enforced Drug Rehabilitation.'" These tactics have been used against those accused of petty crimes and drug offenses. AI points out that "unchecked police power to impose detention as a punishment without charge, trial or judicial review, is in flagrant violation of international fair trial standards.".

Even good news often is twinned with bad. For instance, there has been some improvement of "the freedom of foreign journalists to cover news stories in China in the run-up to and during the Olympics," says Amnesty. In theory, foreign reporters now will be able to report without interference. Nevertheless, 40 percent of members of the Foreign Correspondents Club of China report government intimidation, while their Chinese employees are routinely spied upon and harassed.

Moreover, these new "regulations were introduced against a background of increased official controls over the distribution of foreign news within China and a renewed crackdown on domestic journalism, including print, broadcast and online media," warns AI.

THE BEIJING GOVERNMENT ANNOUNCED in mid-August that it was cracking down on "false news reports, unauthorized publications and bogus journalists." Nominally directed against inaccurate reporting, these measures discourage aggressive reporting of any sort, especially regarding anything embarrassing to the government.

There are numerous examples of official media repression. Journals have been closed or forced to dismiss their employees. Posts by online publications have been restricted and distribution limited. In advance of the October Communist Party congress, Beijing listed 20 topics as off-limits, including not just human rights and government corruption, but financial and sexual scandals. The group Reporters Without Borders issued a report in August pointing to 29 imprisoned Chinese journalists.

The Internet is a favorite target of the authorities. Explains AI, "Internet censorship remains pervasive in China with few signs that the authorities are prepared to relax policies of surveillance and control, thereby upholding freedom of expression and information online." Websites have been closed; rules have been introduced to force people to register under their own names to use the Internet; writers and journalists have been jailed.

The government employs an estimated 30,000 snoopers and has added animated figures to the screens of Internet users warning of official controls. Reporters Without Borders affirms that China's "cyber-police" have become more active in recent months. In August the Chinese government pressed major blog providers to agree to enforce government standards, essentially a pledge of self-censorship.

No surprise, the government is punishing human rights activism. Warns Amnesty, "While the Chinese authorities have shown growing levels of tolerance for some forms of rights activism which are not perceived to threaten the status quo, activists who report more widely on violations, challenge policies which are deemed to be politically sensitive or try to rally others to their cause are facing heightened levels of abuse."

BEIJING IS PARTICULARLY CONCERNED that Chinese citizens as well as foreign human rights activists desire to use the Olympics to publicize political repression. Many of the former, says AI, "have expressed fears that abuses against activists in other parts of China appear to be rising, partly because so much attention is focused on Beijing in the run-up to the Olympics." Surveillance, detention, imprisonment, and physical abuse all have been deployed against human rights campaigners.

Lawyers who defend human rights activists also face attack. State punishment "often extends to other family members, particularly if forms of 'house arrest' are imposed or if relatives seek to highlight ongoing abuses," reports Amnesty. Prison is not uncommon.

Indeed, last December Human Rights Watch issued a report entitled "A Great Danger for Lawyers." Despite Beijing's professed commitment to implement the rule of law, explains HRW: "the authorities introduced new regulatory curbs on lawyers representing protesters and plaintiffs bringing collective lawsuits. These restrictions effectively deprive people with lawful collective complaints of meaningful legal representation, and risk instilling a sense of futility about legal avenues of redress that may exacerbate social unrest in the future."

In September the authorities detained Gao Zhisheng, who had been convicted and sentenced to house arrest last year for his activities on behalf of human rights activists. Li Heping, known for defending victims of government abuse, including religious persecution, was physically attacked.

Religious persecution continues. The government has initiated a crackdown on foreign missionaries in advance of the Olympics and tightened control over house churches. At least 15 leaders of the underground church were arrested in six different provinces as part of a recent drive "against illegal religious and evil cult activity" that adversely affected "the stability of village governance," stated the government. Severe repression continues against Falun Gong practitioners, and the government has even purported to ban (seriously!) the reincarnation of "living Buddhas" in Tibet. Underground Catholic Bishop Jia Zhiquo was arrested in August.

Finally, though the communist authorities have dumped Mao, they seem to be enlisting Orwell. The city of Shenzhen is installing 20,000 surveillance cameras along its streets and providing hi-tech residency cards with a computer chip programmed with personal information. The government claims the measures are meant to fight crime, but in practice could -- and almost certainly will -- be used to control their citizens' lives.

This is a sad record for a nation poised to become one of the globe's leading geopolitical actors. Notes AI, "the continued imprisonment of numerous human rights activists and journalists as prisoners of conscience and the use of police surveillance of 'house arrest' to curtail the peaceful and legitimate activism of others continues to stain the Chinese government's reputation on human rights both at home and abroad. Without swift action to address such abuses, the human rights legacy of the Olympics will be jeopardized."

WHAT TO DO TO HELP the Chinese people? The U.S. cannot force political change on the PRC. Sanctions, including an Olympics boycott, would antagonize Chinese citizens as well as leaders -- without improving the situation in China. Indeed, a nationalistic government would more likely crack down than improve human rights in response to that kind of overt, official pressure.

Nevertheless, people of good will around the globe should speak out on behalf of the Chinese people. President George W. Bush called his Chinese counterpart, Hu Jintao, to account at the Asia Pacific Cooperation meeting in Sydney in September: "We urge China's leaders to use this moment to show confidence by demonstrating a commitment to greater openness and tolerance."

Asian and European leaders should do the same. Their efforts should be buttressed by private protests and boycotts. Chinese leaders are seeking international influence and respectability; instead, they should be embarrassed at how they treat their people. Undoubtedly, the Beijing regime would complain about Western criticism. Observed Chinese embassy spokesman Wang Baodong: "we are against any irresponsible allegations or unfounded slandering. And we are also opposed to the practice of politicizing the Olympic Games. We are also against any attempt to exert pressure on the Chinese side by making use of the Beijing Olympic Games." Human rights critics have struck a nerve. That nerve should be struck again.

The IOC should weigh in, reminding the Chinese government of its commitment to improve human rights. AI calls on the Committee to take "A more proactive stance on human rights issues." Although the IOC's leverage is limited, it should add its voice on behalf of freedom for the Chinese people.

While the criticism should be sharp, it should point to a positive end. That is, the Chinese government should be urged to follow the logic of its reach for global leadership. A country with growing geopolitical power demanding respect from the international community should respect its own people. The leaders of a good, strong, and powerful nation should trust their people with freedom. Moreover, a political leadership hoping to win legitimacy and defuse social protest at home should give its citizens a stake in, and ultimately control over, their own government.

There likely will be no more important bilateral relationship this century than that between America and China. The U.S. has much at stake in Beijing's future development. Although America cannot force the PRC to respect the human rights of its own people, Americans can encourage, pressure, and shame the Chinese authorities to do so. With the 2008 Olympics approaching, there's no better opportunity to act on behalf of the Chinese people.

Doug Bandow is the Robert A. Taft Fellow at the American Conservative Defense Alliance. A former Special Assistant to President Ronald Reagan, he is author of Foreign Follies: America's New Global Empire (Xulon Press).

OLYMPIC WATCH: Human Rights in China and Beijing 2008


How Buddhism Became Force for Political Activism

From China to Myanmar, Once-Quiescent Creed Spurs New Campaigns
November 7, 2007; Page A1

After evening prayers on Sept. 18, the abbot of a small monastery in Myanmar's largest city convened the roughly 30 Buddhist monks in his charge. The bonds between secular and religious authority had broken, the abbot said. Then he gave the monks his blessing to take to the streets in protest.

That meeting, one of many held in monasteries across Myanmar in mid-September, helped turn a sputtering campaign of dissent led by secular democracy activists into a mass movement led by Buddhist clergy. The country formerly known as Burma erupted in the biggest wave of antigovernment demonstrations in nearly 20 years.

[Go to slideshow.]
Andrew Higgins
A boy monk walks from communal quarters to a shrine at the Shwe Bohmyint Pagoda, a Buddhist temple in the hills above Myawaddy, a town in the east of the country formerly known as Burma.

"We wanted to stay out of politics," says U Zawtiga, a monk at the monastery in Yangon, formerly Rangoon. But "how can religion thrive when the country is so desperate?" Mr. Zawtiga, active in the protests, fled Yangon after the military started shooting protesters on Sept. 27. He is now in hiding along Myanmar's border with Thailand. His abbot, he says, has been arrested.

The vanguard role of monks in the Burmese protests underscores a curious turn for a creed often associated with quiet contemplation. Unlike Islam and Christianity, Buddhism offers no clear scriptural mandate for revolt against unjust rulers. Rooted in nonviolence, a belief in rebirth and a conviction that salvation lies in the conquest of worldly desires, it has no tradition of crusades or jihad in service of an almighty God.

Across wide swathes of Asia, however, Buddhism has emerged as a powerful spur to political activism. Motives differ from place to place. So, too, do the strands of Buddhism involved. But in each case, the faith has taken the lead in often noisy campaigns for change.

The phenomenon extends from Tibet, where Buddhist monks have doggedly resisted Chinese rule, to Myanmar and several other countries of Southeast Asia, where monks have become a significant political force. Monastic activism has taken on a sinister tone in some places, particularly in Sri Lanka, where hard-line nationalist monks have formed a political party that wants all-out war against rebels of the mostly-Hindu Tamil minority.

In China, meanwhile, a Buddhism-tinged group called Falun Gong has eclipsed a moribund pro-democracy movement as the Communist Party's most determined foe.

Buddhism should "not run away from society but reform society," says Sulak Sivaraksa, a prominent Thai champion of Buddhist activism against poverty and injustice. Focusing on just meditation and the next life, he says, is "not Buddhism but escapism." In 1989, Mr. Sivaraksa helped found the International Network of Engaged Buddhists, a group of Buddhist activists that includes some from Myanmar and also Tibet.

Shocks of Modernization

Christopher Queen, a Harvard University religion lecturer, says the trend began in the latter half of the last century, a time when the shocks of modernization and war prodded many faiths to become increasingly political. Some Roman Catholics embraced "liberation theology" and Muslims increasingly turned to political Islam. For Buddhists, though, activism has involved a fundamental re-reading of their generally quiescent creed.

Buddhism holds that an individual's lot in life is determined by actions -- or karma -- in previous lives. This offers hope that evil leaders will pay a price for their misdeeds in a future life but provides little impetus for immediate action. As a result, for much of its history Buddhism has tended to shore up the status quo.

But Myanmar's current plight demands action in the here and now, says Bo Hla Tint, a Buddhist and member of Myanmar's government-in-exile. "We can't wait," he says. He adds that military strongman Gen. Than Shwe will face further punishment later -- with rebirth as a stray dog or an animal raised for slaughter. Rebirth as a household pet, says Mr. Hla Tint, "is too good for him."

A big factor pushing Myanmar's monks onto the streets is their own economic pain. Dependent on donations of food from an increasingly impoverished populace, monks are going hungry as public almsgiving declines. "If people are starving, how can they give to us? If they suffer, we suffer," says U Kaw Thala, 48 years old, another Yangon monk now moving between safe houses in the Thai-Myanmar border zone.

In contrast to secular activists, who are often easily silenced by arrests and intimidation, these faith-fired Buddhist campaigners have demonstrated tremendous stamina. Such perseverance is often helped by the fact that monks and nuns usually have no spouses or children to worry about. Activists also benefit from a loose but durable support network provided by their faith.

Mr. Zawtiga, the Yangon monk, entered the monkhood at the age of 7. Now 39, he has lived in five different monasteries and has a network of contacts across the country. During the September protests, he traded information with old monastic friends and helped coordinate street protests. His parents are both dead. Two of his brothers are abbots.

[Buddhist monks protesting in Yangon.]
Buddhist monks protesting in Yangon.

When the military started raiding monasteries the night of Sept. 26, Mr. Zawtiga took refuge at the home of a devout Buddhist. The next day, accompanied by two other monks, he traveled by bus to the border with Thailand. Local Buddhists gave him shelter and a set of orange-colored robes to help him pass himself off as a Thai monk. Burmese monks wear burgundy. Mr. Zawtiga stays in touch with monks in Yangon and elsewhere by cellphone.

"Everybody knew the military would use violence," he says. "This was not unexpected. We are not afraid." Students and other pro-democracy forces, he says, have been severely weakened by years of repression but "the Sangha [Sanskrit for Buddhist clergy] is getting stronger and more organized." Last week, more than 100 monks took to the streets again in Pakokku, a town in the center of the country. They chanted a Buddhist prayer associated with the democracy cause.

One of the better-known demonstrations of stalwart Buddhist resistance is in Tibet, a Buddhist theocracy until China invaded in 1950. Its monks again defied Beijing last month by celebrating the U.S. Congress's decision to award its highest civilian honor to the exiled Dalai Lama. Clashes were reported in several towns between Chinese security forces and monks.

Persistence and organization are also hallmarks of China's banned Falun Gong movement, a blend of Buddhism, Chinese folk religions and pseudoscience founded in 1992. After initially tolerating the group, authorities cracked down hard in 1999, branding Falun Gong an "evil cult" and arresting thousands.

Since then, the movement has taken up politics with gusto, promoting a political tract called "The Nine Commentaries," a denunciation of communism written in 2004. Falun Gong has no monks or clergy but, through a web of motivated and well-organized lay followers in Hong Kong and elsewhere, it continues to needle Beijing. A TV station and radio network run out of the U.S. beam anticommunist messages into China.

Toughened Resolve

The head of China's state-controlled Buddhist Association denounced Falun Gong, but a few activist Buddhists rallied to defend the group. Among them was Xu Zhiqiang, a protest leader during China's 1989 democracy movement who, after being released from jail, joined a Buddhist monastery. Buddhism, he says, offered him a sanctuary and also toughened his resolve.

In 2004, Mr. Xu helped in a civil suit filed on behalf of an imprisoned Falun Gong follower. He says he doesn't support Falun Gong's reading of Buddhism but does support religious and political liberty. Last year, authorities booted Mr. Xu out of his monastery, accusing him of corruption and "improper relations" with three female Buddhists. He denies the allegations.

Though often wary of Falun Gong's sometimes cultlike behavior, secular Chinese dissidents voice admiration for its staying power. Democracy campaigner Wei Jingsheng, who spent 19 years in Chinese prisons and now lives in exile in the U.S., isn't a believer but sometimes attends Falun Gong events outside China to show solidarity. At a big July rally in Washington, he looked out on a sea of anti-communist banners and said his own dwindling band of secular democrats "could never get a crowd like this."

Buddhists have moved beyond cloistered contemplation before. In medieval Japan, a time of political turmoil, monasteries ran their own armies. China, too, had warrior monks. Starting in the 13th century, China saw periodic rebellions stirred up by the White Lotus, a Buddhist sect greatly feared by rulers as a symptom of dynastic decline.

Generally, though, Buddhism has tended to support established power. This pattern dates back more than 2,500 years to the religion's founder, Siddhartha Gautama, better known as Buddha or the "enlightened one." A north India aristocrat, he found spiritual liberation -- Nirvana -- through meditation under a tree. Unlike Jesus and Muhammad, he didn't challenge ruling elites.

Roughly two centuries after Siddhartha Gautama's death, King Asoka of India declared Buddhism a state religion. Since then, Asian rulers through the centuries have sought to emulate his example, supporting monasteries in return for the clergy's blessing of their rule.

Washington, struggling to beat back communism in Asia, also saw Buddhism as a potential force for stability. But in 1963, a Vietnamese monk set himself on fire to protest the anti-Buddhist bias of South Vietnam's U.S.-backed Roman Catholic president, Ngo Dinh Diem. Eager to calm Buddhist anger, the U.S. helped topple President Diem.

Even fanatical atheists have cloaked their rule in symbolism borrowed from Buddhism. In May 1975, shortly after their conquest of Cambodia, Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot and his lieutenants retired to a Buddhist sanctuary, the Silver Pagoda, to plot a murderous program that would result in an estimated 1.6 million deaths and include the slaughter of many monks. Pol Pot slept on a raised dais previously used to display a statue of Buddha.

Burma, as Myanmar was known until 1989, has a particularly deep Buddhist heritage. According to Burmese tradition, the faith was first brought to the country by a mission sent by King Asoka in the third century B.C. When Britain seized Burma in the 19th century, loyalty to Buddhism helped rally resistance.

Since independence in 1948, Burmese leaders have all sought to revive the ancient model of close bonds between monastic and state power. More than 80% of the population is Buddhist. U Nu, the country's first prime minister, rebuilt temples and monasteries and, in imitation of King Asoka, held a Buddhist Council that brought together faithful from across Asia. After a 1962 coup brought the military to power, dictator Ne Win, a Buddhist inspired by Marx and Stalin, built two huge new pagodas -- but also purged the clergy of monks suspected of disloyalty.

Democrats tapped Buddhism, too. When students took to the streets in 1988, Aung San Suu Kyi, leader of the democracy cause, visited Yangon's Shwedagon Pagoda to call for an end to military rule. Monks joined the movement, which mushroomed into a peaceful mass uprising. In September 1988, the military crushed the protests. As many as 3,000 people died. Nine months later, on June 4, 1989, similar scenes played out in China, Burma's closest ally. Hundreds and possibly many more died when the army launched an assault on Tiananmen Square to end student-led protests.

In both China and Myanmar, democracy activists went into hiding, fled abroad or were jailed. In both countries, various strains of Buddhism helped fill the void as a vehicle for dissent.

China worked hard to shore up the Buddhist bona fides of its increasingly beleaguered allies in Myanmar. Starting in the mid-1990s, it arranged several times to have Buddha's tooth -- a relic greatly revered by Buddhists -- sent from China to Myanmar for display. Myanmar's generals built a special sanctuary to house the tooth and invested in other Buddhism-related construction projects.

The lavish spending on temples won over some monks but in general, ties between the state and the clergy continued to fray. Dissident monks set up the All Burma Young Monks Union to organize resistance to the junta. Ms. Suu Kyi, the opposition leader, reached out to elderly abbots and, while in detention, calmed her nerves by reading a book on the "liberation teachings" of Buddha.

The deepening economic crisis of recent years hit monasteries hard, pushing even apolitical monks toward activism, says Mr. Kaw Thala, the Yangon monk now in hiding. He says he used to collect small donations of rice and other food from around 20 people each week. The number of almsgivers, he says, had dwindled to a handful by this summer.

Meanwhile, soaring unemployment drove many jobless men to seek shelter in monasteries. At a monastery in the hills above Myawaddy, a town on the border with Thailand, a 44-year-old former professional kick boxer explained that he grew too old to practice his martial skills and couldn't find another job. He decided six months ago to become a monk.

Recent Protests

Myanmar's recent protests were initially triggered by an abrupt hike in the price of fuel on Aug. 15. Veteran political activists, mostly former student leaders from 1988, organized a series of small marches and delivered fiery speeches. Most were promptly arrested. The protests died down.

In early September, security forces threw gasoline on the dying embers by manhandling a group of monks in Pakokku, the central Myanmar town where monks marched again last week. Rumors quickly spread of a bloodbath. Senior monks demanded an apology from the military. Officials ignored the plea.

When a mid-September deadline set by monks for an official apology for the Pakokku incident passed, monastic anger bubbled over. At meetings in monasteries across the country, monks denounced the military's failure to apologize and called for action.

Mr. Zawtiga, the monk from Yangon who is now on the run, says discussion of the Pakokku episode dominated the meeting held at his own monastery on Sept. 18. The military "insulted our religion," he says. "We can't tolerate that."

Write to Andrew Higgins at

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