Saturday, February 02, 2008

HRW: China shirking Olympic pledge, pressure needed

Thu Jan 31, 2:21 PM ET View HRW 2008 World Report here.

NEW YORK (AFP) - China is shirking its pledge to improve human rights for the Olympic Games and world pressure is needed to force Beijing to comply, Human Rights Watch said Thursday.

The New York-based rights group said that rather than improve human rights, China's preparation for the Games had actually brought about new violations, such as the eviction of residents for Olympic construction, appalling working conditions at Games venues and tighter controls on government critics.

"Despite China's official assurances that hosting the 2008 Olympic Games will help to strengthen the development of human rights in the country, the Chinese government continues to deny or restrict its citizens' fundamental rights," the group said in a statement as it issued its World Report for 2008.

The Olympics were are an "historic opportunity for the Chinese government to show the world that it can make human rights a reality for its ... citizens," Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch, said in the statement.

The group said "sustained international pressure" around the Games "could push Chinese leaders to better respect human rights in China."

HRW's report detailed Chinese violations in areas ranging from freedom of expression to women's and children's rights.

"Official efforts to rid Beijing of undesirables ahead of the Olympics have accelerated the eviction of petitioners -- citizens from the countryside who come to the capital seeking redress for grievances ranging from illegal land seizures to official corruption," it said.

The Olympics has also set off a construction boom, drawing in an estimated one million migrant workers who toil in conditions that are harsh and unsafe, with them often unable to access public services, the group said.

OLYMPIC WATCH: Human Rights in China and Beijing 2008


Rory said...

It seems that whether the issue is Darfur, Tibet, North Korea or Taiwan, China actually only responds to the specter of embarrassment.

I'd like to see an overt effort to encourage international travelers to the Beijing Olympics to wear politically challenging t-shirts, buttons or a colored wristband while in China.

It might be possible to make such garb de rigeur for any tourist to excuse their "complicity" in these Olympics.

MaKina said...

I'm sure there will be lots of that going on.

However, my feeling is that athletes should make the strongest statements of them all as the authorities won't dare bully them. They should definitely pull another Tommie Smith!