Thursday, March 29, 2007

Darfur, China and Mia Farrow

This is an editorial from Mia Farrow who has wholeheartedly embraced the cause of Sudan and sees clearly the China connection.

"To my horror I recently discovered that I had inadvertently been helping to finance the genocide in Darfur. My own pension money had been in Fidelity Investments mutual funds. Fidelity has more than $1 billion invested in PetroChina Co. and Sinopec Corp. , two oil companies that have poured billions of dollars into Khartoum's coffers.

Genocide is an expensive enterprise and more than 70 percent of oil revenues have been used by the government of Sudan to purchase weapons and train the janjaweed. These are the people and the weapons responsible for murdering Halima and Fatima's babies, along with more than 400,000 other people."(more)

OLYMPIC WATCH: Human Rights in China and Beijing 2008

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Beijing Olympic Ideals Under Scrutiny

Would somebody tell the IOC what's going on in China? Former Australian Olympian swimmer Jan Becker is appalled at China's poor human rights record and is calling for a boycott.

Epoch Times: Kate Allen, Director of Amnesty International UK, said Beijing's promises to improve human rights, made when it was bidding for the Olympics, have not been honoured.

"Thousands of people are executed every year after unfair trials; people are tortured in prisons and thrown in jail just for peacefully standing up for human rights. And the authorities continue to harass and imprison journalists and Internet users – hardly the 'complete media freedom' that the Government has spoken of," Ms Allen said.

"Unless basic human rights are urgently improved, China's gleaming Olympic stadiums will hide a brutal reality of injustice, execution, torture and repression," she said.

Last week, March 21, Chinese Minister for Public Security Zhou Yongkang announced that the authorities would "strike hard at hostile forces both in and outside the nation". According to the ABC, who reported the announcement, hostile forces are considered to be anyone with a spiritual practice outside state control or anyone supporting any form of autonomy for Taiwan, Xinjiang or Tibet.

Democrats Senator Andrew Bartlett, who has expressed concern about Beijing's human rights violations on a number of occasions, said he was not calling for a boycott of the Olympics, but warned that it had "potential for it to get to that stage".

Speaking in the Australian Parliament late last year, Senator Bartlett said: "These are very serious human rights abuses in China, not just with regard to the organ-harvesting allegations, and I do not think we can rightly put them to one side because they are uncomfortable or difficult diplomatically.

"We need to look for ways to try to get more effective action to get improvements in this area." Senator Bartlett said. (more)

OLYMPIC WATCH: Human Rights in China and Beijing 2008

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Genocide games

More on the Genocide Games and boycott campaigns. This time Kevin Cullen has an excellent report on exploiting the China-Sudan link to get China to listen before the Games.

"The Chinese have to see they have a stark choice," said Reeves. "Either they use their leverage to secure a peace support operation, or they will be the target of the biggest international shaming campaign in history."

Look here for Reeves’ open letter to human rights activists and advocates.

Boston Globe: March 25, 2007 - In the summer of 2008, the world will turn its gaze to China and the Beijing Olympics. A growing number of activists want to make sure the shadow of Darfur, and China's complicity, are what the world remembers.

Sitting at the computer in the office of his Northampton home last month, Eric Reeves pushed the "send" button, intending to spread an idea -- a modest, but potentially powerful idea.

Reeves, a professor of literature at Smith College who has become one of the world's foremost experts on the humanitarian disaster in Darfur, has concluded that only China, as Sudan's biggest economic and diplomatic supporter and a permanent member of the UN Security Council, can stop the slaughter that President Bush has called genocide (as many as 400,000 people have been killed in the Darfur region of Sudan since 2003, and more than 3 million others may face a similar fate). And China, says Reeves, can only be pressured to act by appealing to its sense of national pride and honor -- forcing Beijing to choose between its lucrative relationship with Khartoum and having its coveted games lumped in the collective consciousness with Nazi Germany's hosting of the Berlin games in 1936.

A United Nations plan to send in an armed force to protect humanitarian workers and stop the killing was sidetracked last year when the Khartoum regime refused to let them in, and China abstained from the vote. Most foreign aid workers have withdrawn from the area for lack of protection.

Sudan has weathered US and European sanctions for more than a decade, largely because China, along with several countries in the Muslim world, has shown no compunction in investing in Sudan. Buoyed by its oil exports, 70 percent of which go to China, Sudan's economy is humming along even as it is a pariah in the Western world.

Some human rights organizations, such as Reporters Without Borders, are calling for a boycott of the Summer Olympics in Beijing next year, while other activists, including former Beatle Paul McCartney, call for boycotting Chinese products. Reeves is pushing what he considers a more realistic campaign to "brand" the 2008 Games the "Genocide Olympics," harnessing the energy of a frustrated, disheartened activist base.

"A boycott won't work, and it would be deeply divisive anyway," said Reeves. "It's time to begin shaming China. China's complicity in the Darfur genocide makes its Olympic slogan, 'One world, one dream,' ghastly in its irony. The US government is not going to do anything. The European Union is not going to lead either. It's time to take the effort private."

Reeves is not alone in believing that only China has the influence over the Khartoum regime to persuade it to accept a peacekeeping force and stop the killing. Karen Hirschfeld, the Sudan coordinator for Physicians for Human Rights, points out that while more than two-thirds of Sudan's crude exports go to China, that makes up only 10 percent of China's oil imports. In other words, Sudan needs China more than the other way around. "China does have this leverage," she said.

Robert Ross, a professor at Boston College who specializes in Chinese foreign policy, thinks a shaming campaign can have an impact. He doesn't accept the familiar argument that agitation makes China dig in its heels. "That's old thinking," he said. "The Chinese know there will be thousands of journalists in China for the Olympics, and they'll be writing stories about a lot of things other than the Olympics."

"The Chinese are working overtime to manage the Olympics," Ross said, "and managing Darfur is going to be part of it."

But there is less consensus among human rights activists that the prospect of being embarrassed by the linking of the Olympic Games to the genocide in Darfur has a realistic chance of forcing the Chinese to act.

Reeves acknowledges there is skepticism -- "contemptuous in some quarters," he allows. But he said the idea is gaining attention. Last week, the French presidential candidates raised the issue of Darfur and the Olympics at a Paris rally. Just as important, Reeves said, many Darfuris are enthusiastic backers of the shaming campaign, including Suleiman Jamous, the rebel coordinator for humanitarian aid who has been imprisoned for the last eight months.

"The Chinese have to see they have a stark choice," said Reeves. "Either they use their leverage to secure a peace support operation, or they will be the target of the biggest international shaming campaign in history."

. . .

The kind of branding campaign Reeves envisions, he says, would be "viral." Reeves sees untapped potential, especially at colleges and universities, across the globe. "Students are roaring to do something beyond petitions and selling green wristbands," he said.

He envisions students and activists demonstrating outside Chinese embassies around the world. He sees Web videos, screen savers, T-shirts, bumper stickers, coffee mugs, all bearing the same message: the Genocide Olympics. He points to the success of the American-led divestment campaign that recently saw Siemens suspend operations in Sudan and says there will be pressure campaigns on the corporate sponsors who are lining up deals to associate their products or corporations with the Beijing games.

Boycotting Olympic games has considerable precedent. The United States and more than 50 other countries stayed away from the 1980 Moscow games, in protest of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. The Soviets retaliated, boycotting the 1984 Los Angeles games with 14 other countries. Between 1964 and 1992, South Africa was banned from the Olympics because of its apartheid laws. In 1976, some 25 African nations boycotted the Montreal games when the International Olympic Committee refused to ban New Zealand after its national rugby team played in South Africa.

But since the end of the Cold War it has become harder to build coalitions along ideological lines, and the IOC and various national Olympic committees, including the US Olympic Committee, subscribe to the notion that awarding the games can lead to reforms in autocratic regimes. The IOC points to Moscow and Seoul, where reforms followed the Olympics.

For its part, China skipped the games for 32 years, returning to the Olympic fold in 1984. It took Beijing three tries to land the games, the country's domestic human rights record being cited by many who opposed its hosting of the Olympics.

John Shattuck, an assistant secretary of state in the Clinton administration, was point man on human rights in China in 1993 and witnessed the international effort to deny China the 1996 Olympics. But he said that effort had as much to do with other nations' self-interest in seeking the games as it did with concern for human rights. Shattuck, who is now CEO of the John F. Kennedy Library and Museum, said China is more susceptible to international pressure than it was a decade ago.

Joshua Rubenstein, the Northeast regional director for Amnesty International, says China's economic clout insulates it from boycott pressure. "No one is going to boycott China," he said. "You're not going to get the US government to boycott China."

Not only is a successful, widespread boycott of the Beijing games unlikely, said Reeves, it would be too divisive to be productive. "We've got to change the international diplomatic dynamic," he said.

To that end, Reeves last month sent out an open letter to Darfur advocates and activists. In it, he said "the first order of business" was to "fashion creative means for translating key talking points and broader analyses into a variety of languages and exporting them to as many countries as possible." Those talking points include China's failure to support last August's UN resolution to send a peacekeeping mission into Darfur, China's supply of weapons used by the Khartoum regime, and China's refusal to speak out against atrocities throughout Sudan.

Reeves's open letter has been translated into six languages so far, including Chinese and Arabic, and another half-dozen translations are in the works. A new website is in development, as are agreements to secure the services of a human-rights figure to serve as campaign director and an NBA star to serve as a spokesman. (The NBA is enormously popular in China, especially since Yao Ming has become one of the league's stars.)

"If this is going to be successful, it's got to be seen as international in character," he said. "It certainly can't be seen as American or Western."

John O'Shea, the CEO of GOAL, an Ireland-based aid agency that is among those most active in Darfur, agrees with Reeves's analysis that China is the best and only lever on the Khartoum regime. And he supports Reeves's idea to brand the Beijing games the Genocide Olympics. But O'Shea believes that boycotting the Olympics is the only action that will make China sit up and listen.

In an interview, O'Shea said he would soon ask the Irish government to consider boycotting the games. He said he would also try to get smaller countries in which GOAL is active, such as Haiti, the Dominican Republic, and Sierra Leone, to consider a boycott. O'Shea has proved persuasive with the Irish government in the past, and even if he can't persuade these countries to boycott the games, he promises to be part of the shaming campaign that Reeves is trying to inspire.

"Which is more important?" O'Shea asked. "The Olympic games taking place for the greater glory of China, or the lives of 3 million people?"

Kevin Cullen, a projects reporter at the Globe, can be reached at

OLYMPIC WATCH: Human Rights in China and Beijing 2008

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

China Faces Calls for Olympic Boycott

Way to go Bayrou!

Excerpt: Forbes/AP – 21 March, 2007 – China, as host of the next Olympics, should be pressured to use its clout with Sudan to stop violence in Darfur, two top French presidential candidates said - and one called for a French boycott of the Games if the violence doesn't stop.

But the boycott call from Bayrou and the criticism from other French presidential contenders were new in that they focused on China's foreign - not domestic - policy and linked it to the Games.

China is Sudan's biggest investor, buying two-thirds of its oil and selling it weapons and military aircraft. China has taken a hands-off approach to political violence and human rights abuses in Africa, where Beijing has been increasing its investment to tap Africa's vast natural resources.

China has been accused of not doing enough to pressure the Sudanese government, which is accused of funding militias and allowing its military to brutalize civilians in a conflict that has killed some 200,000 people and left 2.5 million homeless since 2003.

"We cannot stay silent before one of the great humanitarian tragedies of our time," Chirac said in a statement sent to the rally. "If atrocities follow, if the word is not kept, the (U.N.) Security Council will have no other choice, but to adopt sanctions." (more)

OLYMPIC WATCH: Human Rights in China and Beijing 2008

China to stifle pre-Olympics 'hostile forces'

Beijing is right to be worried about the impact of the 'overseas forces' exploiting the Olympics to draw attention to their humanitarian causes. China's barbaric ways are not appreciated by the free world and should be stopped.

Telegraph UK by Richard Spencer: 21 March 2007 - BEIJING -- China's top security official insisted yesterday that tighter controls were needed to stop next year's Olympic Games from being disrupted by "hostile forces," including foreigners. The Washington Times, By Richard Spencer

When Beijing was awarded the games seven years ago, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) said the decision would help to bring greater freedom to China's politics. But since then, despite changes in the country forced on it by globalization and the Internet, there has been a crackdown on political opposition.

In the latest in a series of attempts to play down the chances of political liberalization, Zhou Yongkang, the minister for public security, said police should "defend political and social stability."

"We must strike hard at hostile forces both in and outside the nation," he said in a speech given Monday and published in the state press yesterday.

He went on to give a list of those the state now regards as its principal enemies. These included regular targets such as Falun Gong, the banned religious group whose sit-down protests in the past have triggered fear in the authorities, and "splitism and religious extremism."

This is a catch-all phrase for anyone supporting independence or greater autonomy for Tibet, Xinjiang or Taiwan. The government fears that free-Tibet campaigners in particular could use the games as an opportunity to boost international sympathy for their cause.

Tibetan activists and representatives of the Uighurs, the Muslim ethnic group that lives in Xinjiang, are regularly harassed and jailed, with well-documented claims of torture.

The reference to "hostile forces outside the nation" may refer to overseas supporters of these groups. But the government has also focused in the last two years on the role that international human rights and pro-democracy organizations played in "color revolutions" in Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

He predicted that there would be more attempts to bring China into line with "international norms" on issues that are controversial overseas, such as the reeducation through labour system, a form of imprisonment without trial.

But Luo Gan, Mr Zhou's boss as the politburo member responsible for law and order, has stressed the priority given to maintaining "stability". In a speech last month he said the re-education through labour system should be "improved" and not scrapped. (more)

OLYMPIC WATCH: Human Rights in China and Beijing 2008

Saturday, March 17, 2007

China Has Come Full Circle': Former Top Official

Here is the latest attempt from Communist China to protect their harmonious society image. It looks good on paper!

Bao Tong gives a rare television interview.

RFA: 2007.03.17 - China's socialist politics have turned full circle with the advent of new property legislation, leaving the country "back where it started," a former top Communist Party official has said.

Bao Tong, former secretary to disgraced late premier Zhao Ziyang, said the law protecting private property rights, passed by China's parliament Friday, represented the "final bankruptcy" of Mao Zedong's brand of Chinese communism.

"It means the final bankruptcy of the theories and policies of the 'transitional stage' of socialism proposed by Communist Party Chairman Mao Zedong in 1953," wrote Bao in an essay broadcast Friday on RFA's Mandarin service.

"It means that after repeated twists and turns for more than half a century, China has finally come full circle. Back to where it started."

History must be rewritten

China's contemporary history must effectively be rewritten, Bao said, because the first half of the communist movement in China had taken the abolition of private property as its central principle.

"The result was the blatant plunder of private property in the name of the nation and the people, and the loss of any stable basis for the continuance of socialism, throwing the entire country into a continual process of upheaval," Bao said.

He said the 40 million who died in the civil war, and the other 40 million who lost their lives in the famine of the Great Leap Forward (1958) and the violence of the Cultural Revolution (1966-76) were a "high tuition fee paid in blood" for this history lesson.

Rampant corruption

"The second half of this circle was marked by the silent cries of ordinary Chinese citizens amid the bloodshed and horror of the 1989 massacre," Bao said, adding that the era of market-driven economics also paved the way for an ever-widening gap between rich and poor.

"Those with houses close to the water saw the moon first, with an increase in both prosperity levels, and in corruption," Bao said.

"We saw the creation of millionaires, multi-millionaires, and billionaires. We saw a lot of people get rich quickly at township, county, city, provincial, and national levels."

Bao said it was too soon to judge whether the property law would have any effect on massive official corruption, by protecting the rights of individuals in their everyday lives, where they frequently face land-grabs from local officials keen to cash in on lucrative property deals.

"Some people have advanced the view that having a law is better than not having one. But I wonder what sort of effect it can possibly have, for good or ill, in real life. I wouldn't want to speak too soon," he said.

Original essay by Bao Tong, broadcast exclusively on RFA's Mandarin service. Mandarin service director: Jennifer Chou. Translated and written in English for the Web by Luisetta Mudie. Edited by Sarah Jackson-Han.
OLYMPIC WATCH: Human Rights in China and Beijing 2008

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Olympics pose a unique dilemma: Taiwan

Peng Ming-min, a former adviser to the president, is sure to get everybody thinking. To be or not to be? They have 499 days left to make up their mind as to what to do about the Olympics. I sure hope they will show their strength and make the right choice.

Taipei Times: Thursday, Mar 15, 2007, Page 8 - As the excitement over next year's presidential election rises, I am wondering how many people have considered the fact that the nation will have to make a major choice after that election. On the world stage, before the eyes of billions of people, Taiwan must define its position clearly: is it part of China or is it a free and independent state? The decision will be of far-reaching and irreversible significance and have equally far-reaching and irreversible consequences.

China is working hard to prepare for next year's Beijing Olympics. Without thinking twice about sacrificing agricultural, industrial or local construction or the welfare of farmers and workers, China is investing tens of billions of US dollars in the destruction of historical sites and old residential areas to widen roads and build skyscrapers and public toilets. Beijing residents, taxi drivers and restaurant and tourism staff as well as other professions in the service industries are being instructed to learn the English language and Western etiquette. Even spitting is being banned.

While terrorists, dissidents and human rights groups will be stopped, Beijing is also taking the opportunity to reveal government neglect of human rights and anything else one can think of just to hold up China's new image as a civilized society to the tens of thousands of participating athletes and tourists who will visit the country, with foreign reporters a particular focus.

The Olympics have in recent years become increasingly political as less developed countries use them to show their progress while authoritarian states want to prove their political legitimacy and national strength. China's motives for wanting to hold the Olympic Games are comparable to Nazi Germany's motivation for organizing the 1936 Berlin Olympics. It has been said that excessive German pride over the Olympic success was one of the factors behind its invasions of neighboring countries and World War II.

So what should Taiwan do? Should it participate in the Beijing Olympics? How should it participate? The China issue and the complicated domestic political situation in Taiwan means that how we deal with these issues must be discussed in depth. The different political views of these issues could very well turn out to be diametrically opposed to each other.

First, the viewpoint that Taiwan should be independent. Not only does China oppose this, but it also repeatedly issues public threats to subdue Taiwan by military means and relies on verbal, military and commercial pressure in the international community to try and bring an end to Taiwan's existence. China would thus seem to be an open enemy of anyone holding the independence viewpoint, and unless China recognizes Taiwan's independence -- an impossibility -- this group will surely oppose participation in Olympic Games organized by a country that denies Taiwan's existence.

There are in fact numerous precedents of Olympic boycotts for political reasons: the US' boycott of the Moscow Olympics in 1980, and the Soviet Union's boycott of the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles.

Then there is the viewpoint that the Republic of China (ROC) is independent. The Beijing Olympics puts the faction that supports this view in a very difficult and frustrating situation. This faction has always claimed that there is only one China and that this China is the ROC. They have sworn to defend the ROC's national title, flag, insignia and anthem to the death. What platform is more ideal for realizing this goal than the Olympic Games, watched by billions of people?

This group thus only has two choices. Unless China agrees that the ROC team can fly the ROC flag and national insignia and sing the ROC's national anthem -- another impossibility -- they will have to join hands with Taiwan independence supporters and boycott the games. The other choice is to abandon the ROC, surrender all dignity and forget all oaths to defend these to the death and participate under some nondescript name like "Chinese Taipei" or "Chunghwa Taipei," carry some nondescript flag and listen to some nondescript anthem while forlornly entering the sports arena.

This would be tantamount to admitting to the international community that the ROC no longer exists and that it has become part of China. It is also a confession to the Taiwanese people that past talk about the ROC being the one and only China and independent together with promises to defend these values to the death were nothing but lies. Their reputation and credibility will be dragged through the mud and no one will ever want to mention the Republic of China again.

Finally, there are the "Ah Q," "must not miss out," "who cares," and defeatist standpoints. The Ah Qs will accept the nondescript name, flag and anthem while holding signs that read "protesting" and claim to have won a moral victory.

But Taiwan's political arena also has room for a group that we can call the "must not miss outs." This approach is sometimes appropriate, for example during presidential elections, but that is an exception to the rule. This faction feels that it is necessary to participate in every possible sports competition or election regardless of whether it is right or wrong. Regardless of whether or not there is a chance to win and regardless of the consequences. Participation is the overriding value and it is always better than non-participation. The Beijing Olympics are no exception.

The "who cares" group is devoid of ideals, principles, standpoints and opinions. Dignity, identification, democracy, freedom or human rights are not important to them. Nothing matters to them and they always go with the flow.

The defeatists of course do everything according to China's wishes. To them, anything that may promote unification with China is good. If the group advocating an independent ROC joins hands with the Ah Qs, the must not miss outs, the who cares and the defeatists, they will become quite powerful and will surely demand that Taiwan participate in the Beijing Olympics, no matter what.

I wonder what will be the choice of the people of Taiwan and our next president.
OLYMPIC WATCH: Human Rights in China and Beijing 2008

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Scorned UN rights body seeks identity

I have two words for this organization: Major Fiasco! The energy is not only focused at the wrong place but countries like Cuba and China, sitting on this council, keep getting away with murder. The world is upside down!

AngolaPress - Angola: GENEVA 03/12- The United Nations` top human rights body, scorned by the U.S. administration and shunned by the only two countries it has sought to scrutinize, is still trying to set the rules for combatting atrocities a year after its creation by the General Assembly.

The 47-nation Human Rights Council, which begins its first three-week session of the year on Monday, has already been widely criticized for its first-year failures over Israel and Sudan and finds itself in a power struggle. Member countries including China, Russia and Cuba object to being examined, while outnumbered Western nations are trying to hold everyone accountable to the highest standards.

"It hasn`t gotten off to a good start, there`s no doubt about that," said Peter Splinter of Amnesty International.

The idea behind the council was to replace the highly politicized Human Rights Commission with a new body that could keep some of the worst offenders out of its membership as it extended its work from an annual six-week session to multiple meetings year round.

There is a June deadline for rule setting, but it is still undecided whether the council will continue to produce reports about individual offending countries as the commission was able to do - much to the anger of some of the offenders. China was so indignant about being singled out that it yearly persuaded a majority of commission members to pass a "no action" motion whenever the West proposed a resolution condemning its abuses.

But the council has continued one commission tradition: putting much more emphasis on Israel than any other country. A recent report from one of its experts compared Israeli policies in Palestinian territories to apartheid in South Africa.

OLYMPIC WATCH: Human Rights in China and Beijing 2008

Prof links Darfur, 2008 ‘Genocide Olympics’ in China

'Genocide Olympics' -- this slogan is ought to get people's attention and inspire them to write a letter of protest to the IOC. The viral media campaign is on!

Jacques Rogge President
International Olympic Committee
Chateau De Vidy
Case Postale 3561007
Lausanne, Switzerland
Fax: +41-21-621-6216

Excerpt: In making his case for international intervention to stop the killings in Darfur, Smith College Professor Eric Reeves recalled another time in history when the world's apathy allowed genocide to continue.

In 1936, most of the world’s major countries agreed to participate in the Berlin Olympics, unaware that just days before the games opened, anti-Semitic signs had been removed, police had rounded up Gypsies and anti-homosexuality laws had been suspended for foreign visitors, according to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. Few then realized that the Nazis had genocidal ambitions that would eventually lead to the deaths of 6 million Jews, the museum points out.

Reeves - who has become one of the foremost experts on Darfur and is writing a book about the conflict - now foresees another Olympics overshadowed by genocide.

China, scheduled to host the 2008 Olympic Summer Games, is Sudan’s biggest financier, buying the bulk of the country’s $3 billion in oil exports a year, he explained.

That’s why Reeves announced during a Feb. 8 University of Rochester lecture that he has launched a viral media campaign (a type of marketing that is spread from person to person) to dub the 2008 Olympics “Genocide Olympics.” He said his goal is to show the world how China has bankrolled a genocidal regime.

“We can take this message to every single computer in the world,” he said. (more)
OLYMPIC WATCH: Human Rights in China and Beijing 2008

Letter to the President of the International Olympic Committee

David Kilgour and David Matas send a letter to the IOC President pointing to the obvious. It would be great if the IOC would take this plea seriously. Genocide Olympics shouldn't be allowed in the first place.

Amnesty International, Human Rights in China and Human Rights Watch have noted increasingly deteriorating human rights conditions in China. We are confident that the IOC would not have awarded the Games to Beijing had they then known of the human rights abuses happening in China.

Please, consider the following:

1) How will the Games benefit China's citizenry if the IOC doesn't speak out against China's human rights violations?

2) Can the IOC assure the rights and safety of Falun Gong practitioners and members of other peaceful groups repressed by China's regime if they wish to attend the Games without fear of being arrested and imprisoned?

3) Will Falun Gong practitioners travelling from abroad be allowed entry into China without reprisal?

We urge you to please take effective action by calling on the Chinese authorities to bring an end to the ongoing persecution against millions of innocent citizens in China, and we hope that the 2008 Games will embody the principles of the Olympic Charter. (more)

Cross-posted at Between Heaven and Earth
OLYMPIC WATCH: Human Rights in China and Beijing 2008

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

HRW: China: Repression Spikes as People’s Congress Closes

Human Rights Watch just released a news report depicting how chaotic things have been in China during the last couple of weeks...just one big mess after another, after another.

Largest “Clean-up” of Protesters and Rights Activists in Years

HRW (Hong Kong, March 14, 2007) – 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, Human Rights Watch said today.

Protests in Hunan and Guangdong provinces were violently suppressed on March 11 and March 12 respectively. In both cases, specially dispatched riot police attacked the crowds, according to eyewitnesses cited in international news reports. In Beijing, hundreds of petitioners have been rounded up over the past two weeks, in the largest “clean-up” operation by the police in recent years. Dozens of rights activists across the country are being held under house arrest or being so closely monitored that their freedom has been significantly impaired.

“House arrest is becoming the weapon of choice for the authorities in silencing and repressing civil rights activists,” said Adams. “It is imposed at the entire discretion of the police and takes place outside of any legal procedure – you can’t get more arbitrary than that.”

"If this is how the government is going to deal with dissents before and during the Olympics, it will backfire spectacularly,” said Adams. “The heavy-handed measures we have witnessed in recent weeks are completely out of line with the expected behavior of an Olympic host. They show China as a repressive police state instead of the modern country its leaders hope to portray.” (more)

Monday, March 12, 2007

China says it will reduce number of executions

I can’t see China giving up on the death penalty anytime soon because of the booming organ trade they have going. Ten thousand executed prisoners represent big money, although we know now that the military relies heavily on organs from political prisoners like the Falun Gong to curb their expenses. (more) Everybody knows that the cadres have a hard time to stick to the rule of law. This is nothing more than window-dressing.

Globe and Mail by Scott McDonald (AP) BEIJING — China – the world's leading executioner of prisoners – should reduce the number of death sentences it carries out but cannot abolish capital punishment altogether, the country's top legal bodies say.

In a joint statement released late Sunday, the Supreme People's Court, Ministry of Public Security, Ministry of Justice and the country's top prosecutor also said condemned prisoners should not be paraded through the streets and suspects should not be tortured.

China is believed to carry out more court-ordered executions than all other nations combined. Amnesty International says China executed at least 1,770 people in 2005 — about 80 per cent of the world's total.

The true number is thought to be many times higher. London-based Amnesty has cited a senior member of China's national legislature as saying some 10,000 people are executed each year.

“Our country still cannot abolish the death penalty but should gradually reduce its application,” the statement said. “But where there is a possibility someone should not be executed, then without exception the person should not be killed.”

Along with crimes such as murder, rape, and drug smuggling, the death sentence also has been imposed in nonviolent cases such as tax evasion and corruption.

China sought to tighten the rules over the application of the death penalty following a series of high-profile cases involving wrongful convictions and torture. Rules enacted last year restored a requirement that all executions first be approved by the Supreme People's Court, something that had been waived amid the ongoing “strike hard” anti-crime campaign.

In one 2005 case, a woman believed murdered in the 1980s in the central province of Hunan reappeared, 16 years after the man convicted of killing her was executed. At the time of the execution, the court said the defendant had confessed.

Chinese police often are accused of torturing suspects into making confessions, and the document said it was wrong to use statements or confessions obtained through torture or threats “as the basis for a case.”

Officials were obligated to “ensure crime suspects and defendants can fully exercise their rights to defence and other procedural rights,” the statement said.

The document said police must be more thorough and obey the laws in identifying and collecting evidence.

It also required officials to ensure that condemned persons were not paraded through the streets or presented before crowds at anti-crime rallies, practices that once were common but are now usually only found in rural areas.

OLYMPIC WATCH: Human Rights in China and Beijing 2008

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Amnesty International: The human cost of an economic ‘miracle’

Take a look at this enlightening Amnesty International report to see how China’s migrants are treated – many of them are the labourers working so hard to transform Beijing into a super Olympic City.

Amnesty International: People's Republic of China

Internal migrants: Discrimination and abuse

The human cost of an economic ‘miracle

Tens of millions of migrants are denied rights to adequate health care and housing, and are excluded from the wide array of state benefits available to permanent urban residents.(4) They experience discrimination in the workplace, and are routinely exposed to some of the most exploitative conditions of work. Internal migrants’ insecure legal status, social isolation, sense of cultural inferiority and relative lack of knowledge of their rights leaves them particularly vulnerable, enabling employers to deny their rights with impunity. The children of internal migrants do not have equal access to free, compulsory, education, and many of them have to be left behind in the countryside. (more)

OLYMPIC WATCH: Human Rights in China and Beijing 2008

WANTED: Bibles for Beijing

The Communist Party’s latest tactic of putting bibles in every hotel room prior to the 2008 Beijing Olympics serves only to trick the free world into thinking that the regime tolerates and welcomes religion, when in fact the reality is quite the opposite

Vancouver Sun: March 10, 2007 BEIJING -- Beijing hotels may be asked to provide Bibles for foreign visitors during next year's Olympic Games, Xinhua news agency said Friday.

Liu Bainian, vice-president of the China Patriotic Catholic Association, said Bibles would help meet the religious needs of some of the 500,000 tourists expected during the Games.

The church has already decided to provide Bibles in several languages for more than 10,000 athletes competing at the Olympics.

To meet a shortfall of Bibles, Liu said authorities should ask Chinese believers to donate their own Bibles to the hotels on the understanding that they would get them back after the Aug. 8-24 Olympics concluded. The Beijing Diocese estimates that there are 60,000 Catholics in the capital and 10 million nationwide.

OLYMPIC WATCH: Human Rights in China and Beijing 2008

Thursday, March 08, 2007

The real China threat

Peaceful development my foot...

The world's free-market democracies appear indifferent to China's role as enabler to murderous regimes. So it is left to international civil society to challenge Beijing and teach China's leaders that there can be no path to peaceful development that does not lead to respect for human rights. That is the lesson to be taught by human rights groups that plan on branding the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing as the Genocide Olympics.

Boston Globe Editorials / Op-Ed: March 7, 2007 - After China's recent announcement of an 18 percent increase in its official military budget for 2007, Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte requested that China be more transparent about its true levels of defense spending and its intentions. The coincidence of China's announcement and Negroponte's visit risks giving the impression that China is becoming the dangerous military adversary that ultra-conservatives have long foretold.

The reality is quite different. There are reasons to worry about China's expanding role on the world stage, but they have less to do with military power than with China's economic influence and the regime's disdain for human rights -- both at home and abroad.

To be sure, Chinese leaders remain as neurotic as ever about Taiwan. They complained to Negroponte about the Bush administration's plan to sell 400 missiles to Taiwan. He had to assure his hosts that the missile deal in no way alters America's commitment to a longstanding one-China policy.

Beyond their touchiness about Taiwan, Chinese leaders are also squabbling with neighbors about islands and undersea resources in the East China Sea and the South China Sea. But there is no hint these disputes over resources might become a cause for war with historical foes such as Vietnam or Japan.

A spokesman for the National People's Congress repeated a formulaic assurance Monday when he said, "China is committed to following the path of peaceful development." For his part, Negroponte drew a crucial distinction, saying, "It's not so much the budget and the increases as it is understanding these things through dialogue and contacts." This was a tactful way of saying that Washington's need for transparency is less about China's capabilities than it is about its strategic intentions.

Negroponte's poised reaction to China's military budget reflects an understanding that China long ago ceased being a revolutionary power. Few countries have a greater stake in preserving the current world order, rooted in a globalized economy with its free flows of goods, services, and capital.

The major threat from Beijing comes rather from its pursuit of energy resources, trade, and profits at the expense of human rights. China, as a preeminent investor in Sudan's oil reserves, has been financing that regime's genocidal crimes in Darfur. Beijing also acts as the principal ally of Burma's military dictatorship and as a ruthless overlord in Tibet.

The world's free-market democracies appear indifferent to China's role as enabler to murderous regimes. So it is left to international civil society to challenge Beijing and teach China's leaders that there can be no path to peaceful development that does not lead to respect for human rights. That is the lesson to be taught by human rights groups that plan on branding the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing as the Genocide Olympics.

Washington Post: China plans sharp rise in military spending

OLYMPIC WATCH: Human Rights in China and Beijing 2008

China, Taiwan Tensions Threaten To Politicize Olympic Games

The cadres are showing signs of frustration with Taiwan over the Olympics -- to what extent -- remains to be seen.

Excerpt: Escalating tensions between China and Taiwan threaten to cast a dark shadow on the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. From the route the Olympic torch takes to under which name and flag Taiwan athletes march into the stadium for the Games, everything suddenly seems in doubt.

Taiwan's President Chen Shui-bian's announcement on Sunday to pursue full independence from China and to change the country's name from the current Republic of China to Taiwan was labelled a "threat to peace and stability in the region" by China.

The communist leadership in Beijing has threatened "non-peaceful means" against Taiwan if the island seeks independence or if the possibility of "peaceful reunification" is exhausted. (more)

OLYMPIC WATCH: Human Rights in China and Beijing 2008

China: National People’s Congress Should Adopt Human Rights Reforms

Human Rights Watch sends an open letter to Premier Wen Jiaboa highlighting sensitive areas of improvement...

(New York, March 7, 2007) – China’s National People’s Congress (NPC) should adopt reforms in 10 areas to strengthen human rights protections, Human Rights Watch said in a letter to Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao today. The congress, which meets annually and is attended by more than 3,000 delegates, is meeting through March 15.

“Chinese leaders have committed themselves to promoting social justice, ensuring freedom of expression, and building the rule of law, but only concrete reforms will bring real change,” said Sophie Richardson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch. (more)

OLYMPIC WATCH: Human Rights in China and Beijing 2008

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Canada ranked high for protecting human rights

... but not high enough.

CJNEws Excerpt: Despite Canada’s high score, there is room for improvement, Neuer stated. UN Watch looked at the 19 worst human rights abusers as determined by Freedom House, an independent democracy advocacy organization, and examined Canada’s speeches and votes at the HRC and the General Assembly. Canada either voted positively (gaining a point) or made statements concerning the rights abusers in only six cases. “However, there were so many worst of the worst countries – 13 of the 19 – for which Canada took no action at all.”

Canada was silent on China’s “violations of civil, political and religious rights,” on “Fidel Castro’s [Cuba] police state,” “Saudi Arabia’s refusal to allow women to vote or drive a car” and “its state-sponsored schoolbooks that teach children to hate Christians and other non-Muslims” and repression in Zimbabwe.

“There are many times Canada can speak out,” Neuer said. “It’s important to the victims. It has a potential impact to put governments on notice that the world is watching.” (more)OLYMPIC WATCH: Human Rights in China and Beijing 2008