Thursday, July 31, 2008

Olympic Reporters’ Guide to Labor Camps Published

Author: CIPFG
Posted: August 1, 2008
News Alert via Reuters

Olympic Reporters’ Guide to Labor Camps Published

Booklet provides driving directions to notorious labor camps, urges coverage of media taboo

To help foreign reporters overcome the Chinese government’s media censorship and shed light on closely shielded rights violations, the Coalition to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong (CIPFG) released today a detailed guide to detention facilities located within miles of Olympic venues and known for their severe abuse of Falun Gong prisoners of conscience.

The guide, entitled “Torture Outside the Olympic Village: A Guide to China’s Labor Camps,” is available online at or as a 22-page downloadable PDF at:

“Many of us have heard stories about China’s gulags, but when you discover how close some of these hellholes are to Olympic venues, it’s sickening,” says Clive Ansley, China Monitor for Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada and North American President of CIPFG.

The guide details seven detention facilities, in or near Beijing, Qingdao, Shanghai, Tianjin, Qinhuangdao, and Shenyang, and includes:

· Map: A map showing the location of the facility, the location of the closest Olympic venue, and English-language directions to the camp from the nearest airport and train station.

· Description of facility: A photo, general description of the facility, details of its prisoner population, overall conditions, and the name, address and phone number (if available).

· Products and show tours: Products known to have been manufactured at the site and details of prior show tours to the facility, when relevant.

· Individual cases: Brief individual case summaries of current and former prisoners of conscience, the abuse they have suffered in custody, and whether they are available for interview.

“We hope this guide will draw international attention to the innocent individuals held at these locations,” says Ansley. “It should particularly aid journalists in investigating the plight of adherents of the Falun Gong, who make up a huge percentage of labor camp detainees and have suffered a brutal campaign of persecution for nine years.”

Note on censorship: Contrary to promises of “complete freedom” for foreign media, the Chinese authorities have blocked access to Falun Gong-related websites from the Olympic Media Center in a deal struck with the International Olympic Committee. To circumvent such censorship, CIPFG suggests the following measures:

· Request that colleagues outside China e-mail or fax a copy of the guide to you inside China.

· Use circumvention tools available at to access the guide despite the censorship.

· Once you have obtained a copy, please re-post it on other websites, blogs, etc. By creating multiple copies on the web, the Chinese government’s blocking of the original becomes obsolete.

The Coalition to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong (CIPFG) was established to unite international human rights organizations, legal experts, medical institutions, NGOs and government representatives around the world to participate in and independent investigation of the Chinese communist regime’s imprisonment, torture, killing, and organ harvesting of Falun Gong practitioners. Since August 2007, it has also sponsored the Human Rights Torch Relay, a global grassroots campaign to raise awareness of, and stop, the Chinese communist regime’s human rights crimes against all victimized groups prior to the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

For more information or to schedule interviews with former prisoners of conscience, contact Clive Ansley at +1-(250)334-3586, Susan Prager at (862)668-6382 or e-mail

OLYMPIC WATCH: Human Rights in China and Beijing 2008

China faces international storm over Internet block

Newsinfo.inquirer: ....The World Association of Newspapers (WAN) called on the IOC to make China keep its commitment. The Reporters Without Borders watchdog said it was "yet another broken promise" by China since it was awarded the Games.

.....Nobel Peace Prize winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu and former Czech president Vaclav Havel were among international personalities to sign a letter calling on the IOC to ensure full access to information.

Chinese dissident Wei Jingsheng and European parliament vice president Edward McMillan-Scott also signed the letter released through the Olympic Watch rights watchdog.

"We are concerned that the Beijing Olympics might simply become a giant spectacle to distract the attention of the international public from the violations of human and civil rights in China and in other countries with the Chinese government’s significant influence," said the letter.

The group said each country represented in Beijing should adopt a "Chinese prisoner of conscience" and "take action in their support".

The WAN said China had "reneged" on a promise for Internet freedom and condemned China as "the world's biggest jailer of journalists", saying at least 30 journalists and 50 "cyber-dissidents" were incarcerated.

"The authorities have not only failed to honor their pledge, but they have intensified their crackdown on journalists and others who seek to exercise their right to freedom of expression.

"Foreign journalists now reporting from China are regularly harassed and even expelled, as was the case during the March 2008 events in Tibet," said a WAN statement.

WAN, which represents 18,000 newspapers, called on the IOC "to hold China to its promises", and called on athletes, sponsors, media and others to "exert serious pressure on the Chinese authorities to cease their flagrant and persistent abuses of human rights."

Reporters Without Borders said it "condemns the International Olympic Committee’s acceptance of the fact the Chinese authorities are blocking access to certain websites at the Olympic Games media center in Beijing."

"The organization also condemns the cynicism of the Chinese authorities, who have yet again lied, and the IOC’s inability to prevent this situation because of its refusal to speak out for several years."

Padraig Reidy, news editor of Index on Censorship, a British-based media freedom website, told AFP: "The fact that this is happening shouldn't be the least bit surprising. China's supposed commitment to human rights which was supposed to have won them the right to host the Olympics has failed at even the most basic level in access for journalists."

Several newspapers around the world criticized China and the IOC.

The Berlin daily Tageespiegel said "Since Moscow in 1980, we have not seen a Games as unfree as those this year in Beijing. The IOC is responsible."

OLYMPIC WATCH: Human Rights in China and Beijing 2008

A China More Just

Reporters Without Borders: “Mr. Gao... is one of the most well-known dissidents in China. An outspoken government critic... he has taken on cases that many Chinese lawyers would not dare touch.”
— -The New York Times---

“Gao Zhisheng... is among the most daring of a generation of self-trained lawyers who have been pushing the Chinese government to obey its own laws.”
— -Washington Post---

“Already one of the most prominent lawyers of his generation, Gao, 41, has taken a public stand... in favour of the most oppressed groups in China: democracy campaigners, victims of religious persecution, mine accident widows and peasants who have had their land seized by the authorities.”
— -The Guardian---

Attorney. Activist. Fearless. Faithful.

The story of one man who has taken on the world’s largest authoritarian regime... And, in the eyes of many, won.

Born and raised in a cave with only the stars to tell time, Gao Zhisheng rose from poverty to become China’s most important lawyer. He has courageously sought justice for vulnerable groups such as the poor, the disabled, and the persecuted. Yet Gao’s fortitude has drawn the ire of Communist authorities. Today, physical threat and police surveillance are a constant reality for both Gao and his family. Undeterred, he has responded in the nonviolent tradition of Gandhi by launching nationwide hunger strikes to intensify the call for justice and human rights in China. His undaunted resolve and generous spirit have won the hearts of millions. Whispers can be heard in China’s streets, “Will Gao Zhisheng become the next president?”

Part memoir, part social commentary, part call to action, A China More Just is a penetrating account of contemporary China through the life of one attorney. Its selection of writings takes readers from a village in rural China to urban courtrooms, mountainside torture chambers, and the halls of a reluctant government. A China More Just is at once witty and raw, touching and wrenching, sober and playful.

— My Fight as a Rights Lawyer in the World’s Largest Communist State

Author : Gao Zhisheng Publisher : Broad Press USA Page : 255

OLYMPIC WATCH: Human Rights in China and Beijing 2008

Chinese Officials Cover Up Abuses against Falun Gong in Reneging on Promises of Internet Freedom for Journalists

IOC's decision to cut deal with Beijing on Internet censorship "irresponsible at best, complicit at worst"

NEW YORK -- Journalists in Beijing to cover the Olympic Games have found their Internet access restricted according to several major media reports, including those from the BBC and USA Today. At a Tuesday news conference, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman, Liu Jianchao, admitted Falun Gong sites would remain blocked, while Sun Weide, the spokesperson for the Beijing Olympic Committee (BOCOG) attacked Falun Gong by stating that the traditional Chinese discipline "is an evil, fake religion which has been banned by the Chinese government."

"Labeling Falun Gong in this manner is done precisely to distort and misinform people as to the nature of Falun Gong, while also aiming to justify a nine-year brutal campaign waged by the Chinese regime to stamp out the practice," says Falun Dafa Information Center spokesman, Mr. Erping Zhang. Since 2000, annual reports from Amnesty International (reports), the U.S. Department of State (reports) and others have documented severe abuses leveled at Falun Gong practitioners by the Chinese regime.

"Reneging on the promise to the IOC to allow journalists unrestricted access to the Internet," Mr. Zhang added, "is an even further step to hide the human rights abuses of this regime. We encourage journalists in Beijing to look into why Chinese officials don’t want you to see Falun Gong and other human rights-related websites. Perhaps therein lies the most compelling and tragic story behind the regime hosting the 2008 Olympics?"

The Falun Dafa Information Center is calling upon media in Beijing to not give a platform to the slanderous labels used by Chinese officials on Falun Gong without proper investigation into their merits or lack thereof. The Center is also calling upon the IOC to reconsider the deal it reportedly struck with the BOCOG allowing Internet restrictions. In so far as these restrictions further Beijing’s agenda to cover up human rights abuses, to let them stand is irresponsible at best, complicit at worst.

OLYMPIC WATCH: Human Rights in China and Beijing 2008

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Video: US House Passes Olympics Related Measure Calling on China to End Human Rights Abuses

Lifesite: Chris Smith calls one-child policy "one of the greatest continuous crimes against humanity in human history"

See 3 minute video here of Chris Smith statement on the resolution during the committee debate

By Steve Jalsevac

WASHINGTON, July 30, 2008 ( - Today by a vote of 419 to 1, the U.S. House approved House Resolution 1370, introduced by Congressman Howard Berman, which calls on the Government of China to end human rights abuses to ensure that the 2008 Olympic Games take place in an atmosphere honoring Olympic traditions. An amendment, addressing China's brutally enforced one-child policy, was earlier proposed by Congressman Chris Smith (R-NJ) and was passed by a voice vote and included in the final resolution passed today.

Recognizing the omission of the one-child policy in the original resolution, Rep.Smith offered the amendment in the Foreign Affairs Committee to strengthen the resolution. He stated, “My amendment seeks to bring some additional focus on the barbaric, cruel and hideous crime of China’s coercive population control program.” The Smith amendment calling on “the Government of the People’s Republic of China to abandon its coercive population control policy which includes forced abortion and involuntary sterilization,” was adopted by voice vote in the Committee.

In a statement relased today, Congressman Smith listed and thoroughly condemned the massive human rights violations of the Chinese communist regime. He stated, "For so many brave Chinese men and women, for the Tibetans, many of them Buddhist monks and nuns, for members of Falun Gong, Chinese Christians, Uighur Muslims, democracy and labor activists, and others, this has been a terrible summer not in spite of, but precisely because of the Olympic Games."

“In recent months, the Chinese Government has been filling its jails, watching, intimidating, house arresting and warning all known dissidents,” said Smith who had his own trip to China disrupted earlier this month when several human rights lawyers were detained by the Chinese police when they attempted to meet with Smith and Rep. Frank Wolf.

“Tragically, but predictably, the Olympics have been the occasion of a massive crackdown designed to silence and put beyond reach all those Chinese whose views differ from the government line,” said Smith.

The leading pro-life congressman's harshest words were focused on the Chinese government's one-child policy. “China’s coercive population control program has imposed unspeakable violence, pain and humiliation on hundreds of millions of Chinese women, many of whom suffer lifelong depression as a consequence. Massively violated by the state, it is no wonder more women commit suicide in China than anywhere else in the world,” said Smith who held more than 25 hearings on human rights abuses in China as chairman of House human rights committees.

“As a direct result of the government’s one child policy, tens of millions of girls are missing today—dead due to sex selection abortions—creating a huge gender disparity. The lost girls of China is gendercide. With its heavy reliance on forced abortion, involuntary sterilization and ruinous fines for illegal children, the policy, in effect since 1979, constitutes one of the greatest continuous crimes against humanity in human history,” he said.

Smith concluded, "we need to robustly combat it (the one child policy), and impress upon the Chinese government that they must abandon their coercive population control policy.”

Congressman Mike Pence expressed strong support for Smith's amendment during the debate and thanked him "for his strong moral leadership on this issue." Pence stated, “In the committee we heard the most horrific stories of these so-called family planning technical service workers literally breaking into homes, dragging women in the ninth month of pregnancy off to clinics, forcing abortions on them and in one case after another, going to horrific means to ensure that the newly born child’s life had been completely snuffed out."

Pence concluded that the passage of the resolution ensured "that here in the United States of
America the people of this country will say with one voice ‘we believe in freedom and we believe in life and we reject the policy of forced abortion in China and urge them to do likewise at this time.”

See role call of the vote on Res. 1370

OLYMPIC WATCH: Human Rights in China and Beijing 2008

RWB: Advice for foreign journalists covering human rights situation during Beijing Games

Reporters without borders:

With less than two weeks to go to the start of the Olympic Games in Beijing, the human rights situation in China has never been such a burning issue. The government’s all-out focus on security and its crackdown on human rights activists are as important as the sports events themselves.

The authorities have denied the existence of any crackdown although around 10 Chinese activists have been detained for criticising the way the Olympic Games are being organised. It is vital that the fate of these “Olympic prisoners,” including Hu Jia, are not forgotten during the games.

Reporters Without Borders urges the thousands of foreign journalists visiting Beijing and other parts of China during the games to look at the issue of free expression, although it will not be easy.

The authorities issued new rules for the international press in January 2007 that supposedly give foreign journalists the right to go anywhere and interview whomever they want. But these rights have been repeatedly violated, above in Tibet and Sichuan.

Reporters Without Borders therefore offers the following practical advice to foreign journalists to help them cover the human rights situation in China.

1. Install programmes on your computer that will help you to circumvent firewalls and protect your communications. Before going to China, you should install Tor (, Psiphon ( or Proxify ( The international version of Skype is recommended, rather than the one available in China, which is not secure. It is also advisable to encrypt emails with PGP ( More information is available in the Reporters Without Borders Handbook for Bloggers and Cyber-Dissidents:

2. Protect your computer against Trojan viruses and ensure that it is password-protected. Do not leave your equipment and contact lists in an accessible condition in a hotel room.

3. When making phone calls or sending emails, bear in mind that there is no guarantee of confidentiality. Use several SIM cards, especially when contacting “sensitive” people.

4. Before leaving to China, get the contact details of Chinese human rights activists, lawyers and relatives of prisoners of conscience. Reporters Without Borders can provide journalists with lists of people willing to talk to the foreign press.

5. Do not use the services of Chinese companies that offer interpreters and guides. These companies are linked to the government and their employees could easily try to prevent you from investigating sensitive issues or could endanger your sources. Try to use the services of Chinese interpreters and fixers who are freelancers, or foreign journalists who speak Chinese.

6. Take the following with you when you go out reporting: the Chinese-language version of the rules for foreign journalists, your embassy’s contact details, photocopies of your ID documents and press accreditation, and the phone numbers of BOCOG and the Chinese foreign ministry.

7. Monitor the following independent Chinese-language sources of news about China: the BBC in Chinese (, Radio Free Asia in Chinese ( and Boxun (

8. Any violation of your freedom of movement and right to interview should be reported to your embassy, the Foreign Correspondents Club of China ( and Reporters Without Borders. It should also be reported to BOCOG and the IOC. In the event of any conflict with the authorities, use the legal hotline set up by Chinese lawyer Li Baiguang (139 108 02 896 or

9. Read the Reporters’ Guide to China that has been written by the Foreign Correspondents Club of China.

PDF - 216.2 kb
Guide FCCC
Guide FCCC

OLYMPIC WATCH: Human Rights in China and Beijing 2008

Chinese Regime Reneges on Olympics Internet Promises

By Samuel Spencer
Epoch Times Staff Jul 30, 2008
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2008 Olympics & Human Rights

The Chinese regime announced that it would maintain its censorship of overseas Web sites for journalists covering the Beijing Olympics, thereby reneging on earlier promises to allow unfiltered Internet access for news media. Spokespeople for the regime cited Falun Gong Web sites in particular as being among the censored sites.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is believed to have agreed to the Chinese regime's decision, despite IOC head Jacques Rogge's claims earlier this month that "there will be no censorship on the Internet."

IOC press commission chairman Kevan Gosper confirmed the news: "I have also been advised that some of the IOC officials had negotiated with the Chinese that some sensitive sites would be blocked," he said. "I am disappointed the access is not wider."

Singling Out Falun Gong

The regime cited Falun Gong Web sites in particular as targets of censorship. A spokesperson for the regime's foreign ministry, Liu Jianchao, confirmed in a press conference on Tuesday that Web sites related to Falun Gong were blocked, and went on to repeat Communist Party propaganda about the practice.

Falun Gong is a spiritual and meditation practice that was introduced in China in 1992 and is practiced around the world. The practice was banned in 1999 by the Chinese communist regime, and thousands of its adherents have been subject to human rights violations since then.

The Falun Dafa Information Center (FDI), a New York-based organization, reported on July 29 that a 46-year old woman had been tortured to death for practicing Falun Gong. FDI has also documented close to 8,100 cases of Falun Gong practitioners who have been arrested since December 2007.

FDI spokesperson Erping Zhang said, “Falun Gong adherents pose no threat whatsoever to the games. The Olympics are being taken as an excuse to put them behind bars for years.”

Media Restrictions ‘Suffocating’

AFP quoted an IOC spokesperson on Wednesday as saying that other sites were blocked as well. On Tuesday, journalists and reporters had complained that they were not able to access the Web site of Amnesty International, which had just published a report highly critical of China's human rights record.

The Associated Press reported that there was no access to Amnesty International and Tibet sites from the Main Press Center, expected to host close to 5,000 journalists when the games begin on Aug. 8. Journalists stationed in China also complained about the slow speed of the Internet.

Broadcasters have already been irate at the restrictions over coverage. Scott Moore, executive producer for CBC in Canada, called the security "suffocating." Alex Gilady, who is Israel's IOC representative and senior vice president for NBC Sports, has been pushing the regime to allow greater coverage as well.

New Tang Dynasty Television (NTDTV), an independent New York-based television station, has been blocked from transmitting into China since early July. Eutelsat is believed to have blocked NTDTV in exchange for better business opportunities with the Chinese regime.

Olympic historian David Wallechinsky, who has been to China several times over a 30-year period, was one of many who were highly critical of the IOC giving the games to China: "There is so much money being made that the IOC has just turned a blind eye," Wallechinsky said in an interview with AP. "You know, the Communist Party wants to control everything."

OLYMPIC WATCH: Human Rights in China and Beijing 2008

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Nepalese Police Detain 30 Tibetans Marching Towards Chinese Border

Nepal's college students throw bricks at riot policemen as they demonstrate against the newly elected vice president Paramananda Jha, in Katmandu, 28 Jul 2008
VOA: Nepalese authorities say they have detained 30 Tibetan exiles who were marching towards the Chinese border to protest the Beijing government.

Authorities said the Tibetans were picked up Sunday in the northeastern village of Jalbire, near the border with China. The group was transported back to the Nepalese capital Kathmandu.

Tibetans in Nepal have been holding regular demonstrations against the Chinese government since March, when deadly clashes broke out between protesters and Chinese authorities in the Tibetan capital, Lhasa.

About 20,000 Tibetans live in Nepal. More than 100 of them were detained last week for demonstrating for Tibetan freedom outside the Chinese embassy in Kathmandu.

The U.S.-based group Human Rights Watch has accused China of pressuring Nepal to crack down on the Tibetan protests. Beijing denies the charge.

Tibetans have complained of discrimination by the Chinese since Beijing took over Tibet nearly 60 years ago.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

VOA News

OLYMPIC WATCH: Human Rights in China and Beijing 2008

Japanese Olympians to bring dust masks to Beijing

TOKYO (AFP) — Japan's Olympic delegation will carry 500 dust masks for industrial use to guard against the notorious air pollution in Beijing, a corporate official said Monday.

Koken, a major Japanese maker of respirators, gas masks and air purifiers, has provided the masks for free to the Japanese Olympic Committee for possible use in training at the Beijing Games.
"These are not the kind of masks that are sold at drug stores to protect yourself from flu or hay fever," said Kohei Kubo, an official at Koken's life safety division.

"They are used at dusty factories and other industrial sites, as well as hospitals, where they are used to prevent infections," he said.

The masks can cut by more than 95 percent the number of small particles that the athletes would inhale, he said.

They are equipped with superlight filters, each weighing 11 grammes (one third of an ounce), and an exhaust valve.

The company recommended the products to the national Olympic committee last year as international concern grew about Beijing's air pollution, Kubo said.

"We provided the products to the committee in mid-July and they are bringing them as a precaution," he said.

Poor air quality in Beijing has prompted International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge to warn it could result in the suspension of some events, particularly endurance races such as the marathon.

Beijing has closed many of the most polluting factories around the city and banned more than one million cars from the roads every day.

Despite the measures, visibility in the city remained poor on Monday, and officials have warned they may need to take more drastic steps to clear the skies ahead of the Games, which begin August 8.

OLYMPIC WATCH: Human Rights in China and Beijing 2008

China Cracks Down on Olympic Media’s Nefarious Internet Activity

Olympics reporters in Beijing hoping to sign on to the website of, say, Amnesty International shouldn’t even bother; China has blocked it, along with any website relating to “cult” Falun Gong, and perhaps anything else the government deems unacceptable. Not that China is acknowledging it might be filtering the Internet access of the Main Press Centre and International Broadcast Centre, nor the Athletes’ and Media Villages, which have opened in advance of the Aug. 8 opening ceremony. All of this has led the International Olympic Committee to begin investigating potential censorship by China, which promised media outlets the same reporting freedoms they enjoyed at previous games. But no matter what the IOC finds, China isn’t going to admit it’s done anything wrong. Rather, it’s the fault of the websites you’re all trying to visit — they probably didn’t validate their HTML or something!

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said media should be able to access the Internet as usual but he also conceded that sites related to Falun Gong, the spiritual movement China considers a cult, would be blocked. (NYT)

“As to sites related to Falun Gong, I think you know that Falun Gong is a cult that has been banned according to law, and we will adhere to our position,” Liu told a news conference.

He suggested that difficulties accessing certain websites could be the fault of the sites themselves.

“There are some problems with a lot of websites themselves that makes it not easy to view them in China,” Liu said.


OLYMPIC WATCH: Human Rights in China and Beijing 2008

When sports and politics collide

Queens Journal: China’s human rights record faces

Kathy Xu, Sci ’99, says the Olympics should be about more than just athleticism. (Matthew Rushworth)

The world’s eyes will be on Beijing this month as it hosts the 2008 Summer Olympic Games with the mantra, “One World, One Dream.” But for Kathy Xu, Sci ’99, this year’s Olympics will only serve to uphold the practices of a regime whose human rights record has inspired talk of boycotts—the loudest since the 1980 Olympics in Moscow when 62 countries, including Canada, skipped the Games.

Xu said the Olympics should be about something more than athleticism.

“It’s not just about how fast you can run or how far you can jump,” she said. “I think having [China] hosting the Olympics is the exact opposite of what the Olympics claim to promote.”

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has been criticized by human rights groups worldwide for turning a blind eye to China’s support of the governments of Sudan and Zimbabwe and its treatment of Tibetans, Muslim Uyghurs and other minorities.

Xu, who moved to Kingston from Beijing in 1992, is a practitioner of Falun Gong, a spiritual practice with roots in Buddhism and Confucianism. Also known as Falun Dafa, the practice—similar to Tai Chi—was founded in 1992 and has since grown to more than 70 million members in China, according to a government estimate.

In April 1999, 10,000 Falun Gong practitioners protested peacefully at the Communist Party headquarters in Beijing after members were beaten and arrested in Tianjin. The government responded by launching a propaganda campaign against Falun Gong. In Beijing alone, 850,000 members were arrested, though many were later released.

Now, two-thirds of all reported torture victims in China are Falun Gong practitioners, according to the United Nations Special Rapporteur. Its members are forbidden to enter the country and are banned from Olympic events.

Xu said she embraced Falun Gong shortly after her mother, who had been teaching Tai Chi in Kingston, used it as rehabilitation following a car accident in 1997.

She said Falun Gong members in China became government targets because the practice promotes independent thought.

“Religious groups have their own beliefs and are not so easily manipulated by the Communist party,” she said. “The government … have particular hostility against people who have faith.”

In July 2006, former Canadian Secretary of State (Asia-Pacific) David Kilgour co-authored a report with Toronto lawyer David Matas investigating live organ harvesting of Falun Gong members in China. The report uncovered evidence of healthy Falun Gong practitioners in forced labour camps and prisons who had organs removed before being killed and cremated.

Kilgour, a fellow at the Queen’s Centre for the School of Democracy Studies, told the Journal in a phone interview that Falun Gong members are oppressed because of the movement’s immense popularity and non-violent values.

“They were twice as numerous as the Communist Party by 1999 … [government persecution] was part of a jealousy or paranoia,” he said. “They were absolutely non-political until persecution began and they have values of truth, compassion and forbearance. Truth was at the opposite end from the people running the party state.”

Kilgour said the 1999 silent protest kick-started the widespread persecution. The international community should use the Olympics to make a statement against the Chinese government’s human rights record, he said.

“The only thing the international community can do is not to go the opening ceremonies,” he said. “I’m proud that [Prime Minister Stephen Harper] isn’t going. … It’s a gesture, I know, but at least it doesn’t penalize our athletes as a boycott would do.”

Kilgour said U.S. President George W. Bush missed the opportunity to pressure China when he readily accepted an invitation to the ceremonies.

“As I understand it, [Bush] didn’t hesitate a nanosecond,” he said. “If he had said, ‘I’d like to come but we’ll see what happens with the human rights situation in the next year,’ he would have at least used a bit of leverage.”

In a speech to the Washington D.C. Rotary Club on July 23, e-mailed to the Journal two days before its delivery, Kilgour said the Olympics’ core values aren’t in line with China’s human rights practices.

“The Olympic Charter itself speaks about ‘respect for universal fundamental ethical principles.’ Does this not ring increasingly hollow as the rest of the world adjusts to worsening practices of China’s party-state as the Games approach?”

Consumers should question the Games’ major sponsors, whose silence implies acquiescence with China’s human rights record, he said, adding that the IOC’s separation of sport and politics isn’t plausible.

“For the party-state in China, it has everything to do with politics and its quest for legitimacy at home and abroad.”

Kevin Koo, ArtSci ’09, is a Falun Gong practitioner and a member of the Queen’s Falun Gong club. A former national-level field hockey player, Koo gave up his national team roster spot to spend more time raising awareness for Falun Gong victims, undertaking a cycling trip from the Chinese consulate in Toronto to Capitol Hill, a distance of more than 900 kilometres.

Koo said sport and politics would be separate in an ideal world, but not during this year’s Games.

“The difference is that persecution is going on here that’s not totally political,” he said. “Everyone’s witnessed that genocide is happening in the country that’s hosting the Olympics. … How can a country that advocates killing people hold an event that’s about having a union of everyone together?”

Koo said the Olympics likely won’t help alert the West to what’s going on in China.

“I think the Olympics should be helping, but the blockade of information is stopping it,” he said.

The Beijing Olympics will embolden the Chinese government to continue oppressing Falun Gong practitioners and other groups, Koo said.

“The Olympics is one of the grandest events of our time. If they get to hold it while they’re persecuting people I think they’ll feel like they can do whatever they want now,” he said, adding that he’s not sure whether boycotting the Games would be effective.

Others believe a boycott would do little good.

J.D. Burnes, ArtSci ’10, is travelling to Beijing with the Canadian archery team. He dismissed negative views about boycotting the Games—such as those of figure skater Elvis Stojko, a two-time silver medallist, who said in May that Canadian athletes should “think twice” about attending.

“I don’t think [Stojko] would have said those same words had he not won his medals beforehand,” Burnes said. “Nothing has ever been achieved by boycotting the Olympics and I don’t think anything ever will.”

Burnes, who said he’s looking forward to learning about other cultures and representing Canada in Beijing, said sports and politics should not be mixed.

“People should … try to leave the politics behind for this one month every four years, because that’s what the whole Games is about. It’s about leaving those issues behind and competing in fair play and representing your country in the best way possible.”

Dr. Andrew Pipe, a member of the Queen’s Board of Trustees and Medical Director at the University of Ottawa Heart Institute Minto Prevention and Rehabilitation Centre, has been a physician for Canada’s men’s basketball team since 1978 and will be on hand in Beijing for his eighth Olympics.

Pipe was the physician for the team when Canada boycotted the Moscow Games in 1980. He said boycotts aren’t effective.

“My experience with boycotts is very personal and very tangible from an Olympic perspective … I can only say that the decision to boycott [in 1980] was very short-sighted, very inappropriate, and—I would argue—a wrong decision,” he said. “It’s very easy to make athletes pawns in these Games.

Pipe, who has travelled to China a couple of times in the past few months, said the Olympics will be a positive event for China.

“They are immensely proud that their country’s hosting these Games, but also look at them as an opportunity to learn about other societies and cultures,” he said.

China has been seeing positive changes over the past 25 to 30 years, and the Olympics could accelerate that process, Pipe said.

“I can understand how a first-time visitor to China will see certain situations and see them as being onerous or forbidding, but I think overall the impact of the games will be positive,” he said.

But for Xu, China’s human rights abuses are too widespread to be ignored. She said the Beijing Olympics will send China the wrong message.

“Things are not getting better, and they won’t get better before or after the Olympics.”

Not all fun and games

1956 (Melbourne)—Spain, Switzerland and the Netherlands boycotted the Games to protest the Soviet invasion of Hungary, while Egypt, Lebanon and Iraq boycotted in response to the Suez crisis. The People’s Republic of China also backed out because the Republic of China (Taiwan)
participated under the name “Formosa.”

1964 (Tokyo)—The IOC banned South Africa from participating in the Games because of its apartheid regime—a restriction that held until 1992.

1976 (Montreal)—When the IOC refused to exclude New Zealand from the Games despite its rugby team’s three-month tour of segregated South Africa, more than 20 African countries boycotted. Taiwan also backed out when the IOC wouldn’t let them compete as an independent nation.

1980 (Moscow)—62 countries, including Canada, boycotted the Games to protest the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

1984 (Los Angeles)—14 countries refused to attend the Games due to security concerns. Some called the boycotts revenge for those in Moscow. The same year, Iran and Libya didn’t attend because of tensions with the U.S.

1988 (Seoul)—North Korea, Cuba and Ethiopia boycotted when South Korea refused to recognize North Korea as a co-host.

—Kerri MacDonald

OLYMPIC WATCH: Human Rights in China and Beijing 2008

Independent Satellite Stations Could Go Black in China

By Christine Lin
Epoch Times Staff
Jul 28, 2008


satellite stations china go black
China may no longer receive satellite-transmitted news from several independent television and radio stations. (Goh Chai Hin/AFP/Getty Images)

NEW YORK—Two days from now, China may no longer receive satellite-transmitted news from several independent television and radio stations.

In 2005, the U.S. Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) signed a contract with European satellite operator Eutelsat to let Voice of America (VOA), Radio Free Asia (RFA), and U.S.-based non-governmental television and radio channels to broadcast to tens of millions of small satellite dishes across China on a long-term, protected basis. One of these television stations includes New York-based New Tang Dynasty Television (NTDTV).

The original broadcasting agreement was strongly supported by Congress and the current U.S. Administration. On July 31, BBG will cease to broadcast uncensored programs into China.

Since 2005, an “Open Satellite Window” agreement assured the 24/7 free flow of broadcasting into China. This agreement ensured a lifeline of open debate on the Olympics, the Tibet crisis, the Chinese earthquake, and other issues that the Chinese state-run media historically avoid reporting.

On July 31, the eve of the Beijing Olympics, BBG plans to cancel its contract with Eutelsat for its broadcast on the satellite W5, the only satellite protected by the Open Satellite Window agreement.

According to NTDTV, Eutelsat notified them of the situation because of the BBG’s contract cancellation, but it will also terminate its long-term contract to transmit NTDTV into China. By dropping the transmission and breaking ranks with the non-governmental channels, BBG will surrender the stations’ on/off switches to Chinese authorities.

Instead of being assigned to the satellite W5, U.S. international broadcasting channels will be assigned to the China-controlled satellite AsiaSat 3S.

BBG will also stop broadcasting to the tens of millions of 18-30 inch, concealable dishes that Eutelsat reaches across China, and will only be able to reach minimum four-foot dishes via AsiaSat 3S which uses a Chinese-controlled technical system.

Cutting Off NTDTV

The NTDTV satellite news channel in particular saw signs of trouble early on. On June 16, Eutelsat cut off NTDTV and other non-Chinese regime signals that were transmitted on Eutelsat’s W5 satellite since 2004. All VOA channels, RFA channels and heavy Pentagon traffic on this same satellite continued without interruption.

On July 10, Reporters Without Borders released a detailed investigation showing that Eutelsat’s shutdown of NTDTV’s signal was a premeditated, politically motivated decision to satisfy Beijing’s demands and get Chinese concessions and contracts. The Wall Street Journal also revealed in 2005 that Eutelsat repeatedly tried to shut down NTDTV’s Asia broadcast under pressure from Beijing, in return for Chinese state business.

The Reporters Without Borders report is available at .

Last Updated
Jul 29, 2008
OLYMPIC WATCH: Human Rights in China and Beijing 2008

Solar Eclipse and the Olympics

Solar eclipse won't spook Olympics: astrologers

HONG KONG (AFP) — A total eclipse of the sun a week before the Beijing Olympics will spook the superstitious but Chinese authorities have no reason to fear for the Games, astrologers and feng shui experts say.

The phenomenon was once seen by China's emperors as a portent of disaster, and astrologers predict some turbulence this time too, probably on the stock market and maybe even on the streets.

However, any trouble will not be powerful enough, they say, to disrupt the world's largest international sporting event or unduly worry China's rulers.

Mak Ling-ling, one of the most renowned feng shui and astrology experts in Hong Kong and author of many books, said the eclipse might bring small-scale political turbulence and problems to the transport and communication networks in Beijing during the Games.

"Protests and chaos on the street are very likely but they will not do any permanent harm to the Chinese authorities," she told AFP.

China may play down any association between the eclipse and the Olympics to avoid being mocked for being superstitious -- but Mak said it had a long-time practice of consulting feng shui experts when selecting athletes.

"The national teams give me the date and time of birth of the athletes and ask me to calculate and identify the ones with a strong will and a real chance of winning international games," she said.

"No Olympics teams have consulted me about the eclipse but I believe if the authorities are really worried about it, they would seek help and do something discreetly without letting outsiders know."

A total solar eclipse total solar eclipse is caused when the moon blots out the sun by passing directly between it and the earth, and has traditionally been associated with misfortune.

The latest eclipse is set to traverse half the earth over the course of two hours in August 1.

The path of the moon's umbral shadow, some 10,200 kilometres (6,375 miles) long, will begin in Canada and extend across northern Greenland, the Arctic, central Russia and Mongolia, before ending in northern China. But it will not cross Beijing.

It will make its final stop at sunset in Xi'an, capital of China's Shaanxi province and site of the famed terracotta army.

"In ancient times, Chinese people believed that a celestial dragon or dog was devouring the sun during an eclipse," said Peter So, another top feng shui master in Hong Kong.

"The belief gave rise to their practice of banging drums and pots -- their idea of using loud noises to frighten away the animal," added So, who hosts TV shows and has a client list numbering many of the city's rich and famous.

Solar eclipses were regarded as heavenly signs that foretold the future of emperors. Legends have it that two Chinese astrologers were beheaded in 2300 BC for failing to predict one.

In ancient times, western astrologers also believed eclipses had the power to start and stop wars, solve scientific puzzles, and trigger earthquakes and floods.

Nowadays, the natural phenomenon is often associated with a volatile stock market, said So. "It is not surprising. Some people become reluctant to invest in the market after learning about all the theories on solar eclipses."

He predicted big market swings during the Olympics but said China's bourses would recover and remain strong until August 2009.

Raymond Lo, another prominent fortune teller and astrologer in Hong Kong, said the start date for the Olympics -- August 8, 2008 -- on the Chinese lunar calendar had a tendency to trigger water disasters, which could be reinforced by the eclipse.

"It is the year of the Rat, the month of the Monkey, and the day of the Dragon. We had the same combination of animals on the day when the tsunami struck in 2004," he added.

The Chinese zodiac is based on a 12-year cycle, with each year represented by an animal. Fortune tellers base predictions on the relationship between the zodiac animals and the characteristics of each.

But a sceptical Cheng Kai-ming, a physics lecturer at Chinese University of Hong Kong, said any disasters were mere coincidence.

"There are so many natural or man-made disasters every year," he told AFP.

"Any total solar eclipse is bound to occur before, during, or after one of these events."

OLYMPIC WATCH: Human Rights in China and Beijing 2008

Monday, July 28, 2008

AI Report: China human rights have not improved

HONG KONG, China (AP) via CNN-- China has failed to improve its human rights record in the run-up to next month's Olympics, with the government intensifying its crackdown on activists in recent years, Amnesty International charged in a report to be released Tuesday.

Amnesty said that in the last year alone, thousands of petitioners, reformists and others were arrested as part of a government campaign to "clean up" Beijing before the games, which open August 8. It said many of those arrested have been sentenced to manual labor without trial.

Chinese human rights activists have been targeted elsewhere in the country as well, Amnesty said in its report.

It cited the case of Sichuan-based activist Huang Qi, who was formally arrested earlier this month on charges of possessing state secrets. The case, though, is believed to stem from his work helping the families of children killed in May's earthquake bring a legal case against local authorities, Amnesty said.

The organization said the games, touted by Chinese and Olympic officials alike as a way to help expand freedoms in the authoritarian country, have instead led the government to muzzle critics in hopes of presenting an image of harmony and stability to the outside world.

"By continuing to persecute and punish those who speak out for human rights, the Chinese authorities have lost sight of the promises they made when they were granted the games seven years ago," said Roseann Rife, a deputy director in Asia for the London-based group. "The Chinese authorities are tarnishing the legacy of the games."

An after-hours duty officer at China's Foreign Ministry had no immediate comment on the report, although the Chinese government routinely denies such allegations, saying it has promoted human rights by reforming the legal system and raising living standards of hundreds of millions of people.

In once recent shift, the government announced it was setting up special protest zones during the games.

The Amnesty report also took aim at China's suppressive media censorship, noting that some foreign journalists have been harassed by authorities. Learn how China monitors the Internet »

It also claimed the government had expanded its "re-education through labor" program under which security forces arrest people and sentence them to manual labor without trial.

Amnesty also accused the International Olympic Committee of showing a "reluctance" to pressure China publicly on its human rights record.


Messages left with IOC spokeswoman Giselle Davies asking for comment on the report were not immediately returned.

Elsewhere in the report, Amnesty welcomed China's move last year to restore the Supreme People's Court's role in approving death sentences. But it criticized the government, which says the number of executions has declined, for withholding data on death penalty cases.OLYMPIC WATCH: Human Rights in China and Beijing 2008

Ottawa Welcomes ‘Race for Rights’ Cyclist

By Cindy Chan
Epoch Times Ottawa Staff Jul 28, 2008


Former Team Canada member and Pan American Games silver medallist David Kay (centre) and former Secretary of State David Kilgour at a welcoming ceremony in Ottawa as part of Kay’s cross-country bike tour supporting human rights in China in advance of t (Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times)
Mr. Kay, 28, a silver medallist in rowing at the Pan American Games in 2003, said he has completed almost 2,600 km so far, riding about 200 km a day. He plans to arrive in Victoria on August 24, the same day as the Olympics’ closing ceremonies in Beijing.

Kay is traveling solo without a support van, mostly camping along the way. He said it’s a “real struggle” that he sees “as a small symbol of solidarity with the struggle that human rights activists are currently facing in China.”

Each provincial leg of Mr. Kay’s journey is dedicated to a Chinese human rights activist or victim of the recent suppression of Tibetans in China.

These include an unidentified Tibetan girl in Lhasa and two monks in Sichuan province recently killed by Chinese police; Huang Qi, a human rights website founder who was abducted in June reportedly as part of the Olympics security crackdown; and human rights activist Hu Jia who was convicted of “subversion” charges in April.

In Ontario, Mr. Kay is riding for Huseyin Celil, a Canadian citizen and member of the Muslim Uyghur community who has been sentenced to life imprisonment in China on terrorism charges.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper and former Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay have spoken out “forcefully” on this issue, said Mr. Kay, yet Mr. Celil continues to languish in prison “without access to Canadian consular officials or lawyers for that matter.”

The trip is “a humble, solitary attempt of what I can do, as a former dedicated athlete in Canadian amateur sports, to show what concerns Canadian athletes have for human rights,” said Mr. Kay.

He expressed frustration that China has not fulfilled the commitments promised to the International Olympics Committee in 2001 when it made the bid to host the games.

After attending the Dalai Lama’s public talk in Ottawa last October, “it really set in stone in my mind that I would do this [trip] as a way to show my frustration with that and to celebrate the continued activist work that human rights activists are doing in China,” Mr. Kay said.

The head winds have sometimes been very challenging, he said, and on the way he’s bought a small, half-size folk guitar to “blow off some steam when I get stressed out.”

“I spend a lot of my time on the bike in a cycling mode of meditation. I would think any doubt I have in my mind as to my own safety and riding solo is just completely overshadowed by the tremendous work that other people have been doing,” said Mr.Kay.

“It’s the least I can do.”

He is directing donations to his bike tour to the CTC as well as other organizations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. “It’s not just a Tibet issue; it’s a human rights issue in all of China,” he said.

The CTC said Canada cannot stand idly by while Tibetans are killed, Chinese reformers are detained and tortured, and other activists are rounded-up by authorities in advance of the Beijing Games.

“One missing Tibetan monk, one organ harvest of a Falun Gong adherent, one jailed Chinese blogger is one too many,” said CTC executive director Dermod Travis in a news release.

David Kilgour, former Secretary of State (Asia-Pacific) and former co-chair of the Parliamentary Friends of Tibet, also spoke at the welcoming ceremony.

In an interview prior to the event, Mr. Kilgour invited all those concerned about human rights in China to join a rally being planned at the Chinese embassy on August 7, the day before the opening of the Beijing Olympics.

The event is the brain-child of Nazanin Afshin-Jam, an award-winning international human rights activist and winner of the Miss World Canada title in 2003. She was born in Iran during the Iranian Revolution in 1979 and later immigrated to Canada with her family.

Mr. Kilgour also plans to speak at the rally along with Mount Royal MP Irwin Cotler, a former Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada and currently Opposition Critic for Human Rights.
OLYMPIC WATCH: Human Rights in China and Beijing 2008

Beijing obscures Olympic smog problem in haze of denial

Posted: July 28, 2008, 1:30 PM by Kelly McParland

When Chinese troops inconveniently killed somewhere between 300 and 3,000 students in Tiananmen Square almost 20 years ago, it dealt with the international reaction by simply reclassifying what had gone on.

There was never a “massacre” in the square, according to the lexicon adopted by Chinese officialdom. It was an “incident”. In public utterances by those responsible, and their acolytes, it became “the Tiananmen incident”, a small event, similar to a fender-bender, or that little tiff you had with an office colleague last month. All those dead bodies? Those were “splittists” and enemies of public order. Shooting a few splittists doesn’t equate to a massacre.

Du Shaozhong obviously knows his history. The deputy director of Beijing’s Environmental Protection Bureau sought to solve the vexing problem of the city’s crappy air on the weekend by reclassifying what qualifies as pollution.

A great grey pall, so bad it obscures the view of structures a few hundred yards away? Nah, that’s not pollution. A thick soup of smog that hides the newly-constructed Olympic facilities behind a wall of haze? You must be joking -- you call that pollution? Zillions of tiny particles in the air, pushing air quality indicators into the “dangerous” territory, dangerous for children or the elderly? Hey -- what’s with the questions? You’re starting to sound like a splittist to me.

Du, invoking a communist tradition that holds that if you refuse to admit the existence of a problem, it doesn’t really exist, declared that what may look like smog is really just moisture in the air, like steam from a hot bath.

“It’s not necessarily pollution” he said, encouraging reporters to stop trusting the evidence of their own eyes. Could be fog, or maybe dust, or maybe your glasses are just dirty. Sure, you could look out the window and notice the sky has all but disappeared, but what kind of scientific proof is that? As an agent of an official Chinese agency, he guaranteed there would be no problem with air pollution when the Olympic Games get underway in just a few days.

Unfortunately for Mr. Du, some irresponsible members of the international press have shown a reluctance to accept his guarantee, citing the obvious fact that the air quality stinks.

“On Sunday, temperatures of about 90 degrees, with 70% humidity and low winds, created a soupy mix of harmful chemicals, particulate matter and water vapor,” the Associated Press reported. Britain’s BBC has been running a daily pollution index, accompanied by photos illustrating the variations in the air quality. Some athletes are staying away from Beijing as long as possible to avoid having to breath the stuff, according to the AP. The U.S. Olympic Committee was offering team members protective masks.

China’s government has gone to considerable efforts to remedy the situation, ordering cars off the road and temporarily shutting down some of the power plants and factories that are the cause. Further measures may be taken, including ordering all but 10% of vehicles from the roads and closing more work sites.

A better solution might be to adopt remedies that could have a long-term effect, rather than just cleaning up the place until the foreigners leave town. Say, slowing down the regular roll-out of new coal-fired power plants. But that would require more than just a passing show of concern. As China has illustrated at one forum after another, it’s not really interested in anything that ambitious: As a developing country, it gets a pass on greenhouse gas emissions, even though it’s the biggest producer. Far better to pretend pollution isn’t a problem, and wait for the nosy foreigners to go away. It worked with Tiananmen.

Photo, top: Volunteers walk in front of the Olympic studio tower at the Olympic Green in Beijing July 28, 2008. Beijing is ready to expand an already drastic pollution-cutting scheme by taking more cars off the roads and shutting more factories if air quality remains a problem during the Olympic Games, state media said on Monday. REUTERS/Jason Lee .

OLYMPIC WATCH: Human Rights in China and Beijing 2008

Sunday, July 27, 2008

China and its Friends

Geoffrey York,
BEIJING (Globe and Mail) – In a commentary in its Friday edition, the People's Daily made an extraordinary appeal to its readers. It urged the Chinese government and ordinary Chinese citizens to "befriend the media."

The People's Daily – the most venerable of China's propaganda organs – declared an unofficial ceasefire in China's frequent attacks on the foreign media. "To serve the media is to serve the Olympic games," it said. "To befriend the media is to befriend the audience… It is through the media that the audiences across the world are learning about the Olympics, China and Beijing."

You'll forgive me if my reaction to this friendship offer was a little skeptical. In fact, just a few hours after this commentary was published, the Chinese police were extremely unfriendly in their attitude towards journalists who dared to film and photograph the embarrassing scenes of chaos in Beijing when huge crowds of people jostled for the final Olympic tickets.

Several journalists from Hong Kong were manhandled, pushed, dragged and forcibly removed from the scene by the Chinese police because the police disliked their attempts to record the chaos. One journalist was detained by police, and another needed medical treatment after being shoved to the ground by police.

Yesterday, in a rare apology, a senior Olympic organizer summoned the Hong Kong media for a "tea meeting" in Beijing and admitted that the police may have "mishandled" the incident. "We deeply regret what happened," the official said.

Perhaps the apology was the first sign of the new attempts to "befriend" the media, but I remain skeptical. We in the foreign media were given our own nice-sounding guarantees when we were promised that we could report freely in China from Jan. 1, 2007, until October of this year. Instead, we found that we were still prohibited from entering many sensitive regions, including Tibet, the ethnically Tibetan regions of Western China, and finally the districts of Sichuan where grieving parents were protesting against the shoddy construction that led to the deaths of their children in collapsed schools. Dozens of foreign correspondents have been detained, harassed or even beaten by police since 2007 when the promise of freedom was issued.

Even the official Olympic broadcasters – including NBC and CBC – have been told that they can broadcast for only six hours a day at Tiananmen Square, and they are barred from conducting any live interviews with any guests at Tiananmen. When a German television network tried to do a live interview with guests at the Great Wall, dozens of police broke up the interview.

But there's another issue here, too. The Chinese authorities always assume that "friendship" is the ideal relationship between China and well-behaved foreigners. Western scholars, diplomats and journalists are often regarded as either "friends" or "enemies" of China, depending on their behavior.

The implicit message from the Chinese government is that those who praise the government are "friends of China," while those who criticize or expose problems are deemed "unfriendly" or even "enemies." Several U.S. scholars who supported human-rights groups have later found that they cannot obtain visas to visit China. Academics or journalists who praise China, meanwhile, are rewarded with entry visas, lavish publicity, and even honorary citizenship.

Personally, I'm uncomfortable with the notion that I should aspire to be a "friend" of China. Journalists who cover Parliament Hill do not aspire to be anointed as "friends" of the federal government. I never sought to be a friend of the Russian government when I was based in Moscow, and I never aimed for friendship with the Manitoba government when I was based in Winnipeg.

It should be possible for journalists or scholars to write about China without being deemed a friend or an enemy. A modest suggestion: could China see us as polite acquaintances who are free to observe without the pressures of friendship?OLYMPIC WATCH: Human Rights in China and Beijing 2008

Abusing the Olympic spirit

On Line Opinion[Sunday, July 27, 2008 23:39] via Phayul
By Sev Ozdowski

On August 8, 2008, the Beijing Olympics will commence. The recent controversy about the Olympic torch relay is an indication of things to come. Despite the Chinese security forces guarding the torch and local officials trying their best to manage any dissent, we witnessed numerous disruptions. This happened because the torch and the Olympics became a magnet to those who wanted to protest against the lack of civil liberties and freedoms in contemporary China.

Olympics and the politics

Beijing has complained persistently over the past few months that human rights critics have politicised the Olympics and are trying to use the games for their own propaganda purposes.

But the undeniable fact is that China is itself using the Olympics for political purposes. Recently the IOC had to rebuke China for political remarks made by a CCP (Chinese Communist Party) official as the torch passed through Lhasa who said: “The sky above Tibet will never change. The red five-star flag will always fly above this land. We can definitely smash the separatist plot of the Dalai Lama clique completely.”

The Chinese are using the Olympics to showcase China’s economic achievements and to consolidate China’s status as a world super power.

Looking back through history, Nazi authorities held the same hopes for the 1936 Berlin Olympics. In 1936 Nazi dictatorship was already well established and the racist Nuremberg Laws of September 1935 took away all civil liberties from Jews.

The 2008 Olympics and human rights

Can we legitimately discuss the human rights issues in the context of Beijing Olympics, and if so, why? I would like to offer a three-prong answer.

First, China, in lobbying the IOC to host the 2008 Olympic Games, promised that it would use the Beijing Olympics to advance the human rights of its people.

Second, for centuries the Olympic spirit has been linked to human rights, civility and peace. In ancient Greece, a truce was announced before and during each Olympic festival. This linkage of the Olympic movement with human rights has been incorporated into the Olympic Charter which defines sport as a human right and specifically prohibits any form of discrimination in Principle 5 of the Fundamental Principles of Olympism.

And third, China has definite obligations under the international human rights law. As early as 1947 China was a member of a Drafting Committee developing the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Since the late 1970’s China has ratified most of the principal international human rights treaties including the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment.

By ratifying these conventions China has ceded part of its sovereignty and its human rights performance has became a legitimate subject of international scrutiny.

The current human rights situation in China

After examination of evidence I regret to conclude that since China was granted the right to host the 2008 Olympics, its civil and political rights record has not improved, but has, instead, grown progressively worse.

The on-going brutal occupation and colonisation of Tibet by Communist China started 60 years ago continues to this day. The destruction of Tibetan culture, spirituality and environment is well documented. The recently opened railway link appears to be the Beijing’s final solution for Tibet: it helps the domination of Tibetans by Han Chinese and further reduces them to second class citizens in their own country.

Chinese citizens are denied their basic civil and political liberties. For example:

• Chinese citizens cannot elect their own government;
• there is no freedom of speech and rampant censorship. In the Reporters without Borders' Annual World Press Freedom Index of 2005, the PRC ranked 159 out of 167 places;
• citizens are arrested and sent to jail simply because of the content of their private emails;
• more than 1.4 million Chinese citizens were forcibly removed out of Beijing to make room for the Olympics;
• according to the 2006 report by UN special reporter, torture is regularly used in Chinese prisons; and
• there is significant evidence pointing to continuance of religious persecution of Christians, Tibetan Buddhists, and others.

The oppression of the Falun Gong spiritual movement is extremely brutal and has the hallmarks of genocide. Falun Gong practitioners are denied basic civil rights - they are arrested, routinely tortured and send to prisons and forced labour and re-education camps bypassing any court proceedings. Others are used as slave labour to produce cheap goods for export. A recent report alleges that Falun Gong practitioners are locked up, medically tested and murdered so their corneas, heart, lungs, livers and kidneys can be stolen for sale to commercial customers.

To sum up, the Chinese authorities are clearly breaching international human rights standards. Furthermore, the exclusion of Falun Gong practitioners, independence for Tibet supporters and other categories of people by Chinese authorities from participation in the Olympics is in clear breach of the non-discrimination clause of the Olympic Charter.

Chinese international human rights practices

The Chinese government exports its human rights abuses to other countries such as Zimbabwe, Burma and Dafur.

There is also emerging evidence that Chinese authorities are using their influence to intimidate human rights activists. For example in late May 2008 the New York Chinese Consulate organised Chinese crowds, numbering several hundred, to physically and verbally attack Falun Gong practitioners over a number of days.

The mass mobilisation of pro-China activists to “defend” the torch relay in Canberra from protesting Tibetans and other human rights activists suggested the involvement of Chinese officials there too.

Public concern about China’s human rights abuses

The controversy associated with the Olympic torch relay was an expression of the fact that there is growing worldwide concern about continuing human rights abuse in China.

The protest movement also indicates that China has come of age. China is no longer romanticised by Westerners as Mao’s country of perpetual revolution, high on equality, low on economic wealth and of no local relevance. Contemporary China is starting to be seen for what it really is - a world power with global economic and military interests run by an autocratic government with all the human rights consequences resulting from such status.

Thus, today, different rules are starting to apply to the new China. The new rules apply not only because of its emerging world power status, but also because its power is starting to impact on people living in liberal democracies of the West.

Emergence of people’s power

This public awareness has resulted in the emergence of worldwide peoples’ movements which are able to articulate their demands and have an impact on public opinion. For example, the contemporary unrest in Tibet has mobilised many people of good will to focus not only on the Tibet situation, but also more broadly on the human rights situation in China. The World Organisation to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong Practitioners has emerged as an effective grass roots movement. Many other non-government organisations were created around the world to address particular human issues.

The Western governments, being democratically elected, will have to reflect changing public opinion about China. This will lead to changes in government attitudes towards the Chinese authorities.

At the moment there was no serious attempt by the Western public to boycott the goods that are made in China and that dominate our stores. However, one could imagine a significant change in consumer sentiment in the future if China does not address our current human rights concerns.

People’s power in China

People power is starting to develop in China itself. The official Chinese statistics indicate enormous growth in citizens’ protests since 1999: there were 10,000 public protests (some with violence) in 1999; according to unofficial calculations the number was closer to 130,000 protests in 2007

Falun Gong appears to be a particularly important element in this struggle. On the one hand, members of the movement are the most victimised citizens group in China. On the other hand, they are an important element of China’s growing people’s power movement. Falun Gong has some similarities with the Solidarity movement of Poland. It is popular, well organised, has high moral standards and is no longer afraid of government.

The way forward

The Olympics has firmly placed the human rights situation in China on the world human rights agenda. It is now our responsibility to ensure that the focus on human rights situation in China does not fade after the Beijing Olympics.

Considering China’s growing interest in projecting its power into Asia Pacific region and United States’ formidable presence in the same region it is inevitable that this competition will lead to increased international tension in our backyard. Such tension would be much better handled if China is a democratic nation.

It is obvious that democratic change would need to be initiated and delivered from within China. But for the democratisation of China to happen, it needs to be also ushered in and supported from the outside.

There is a school of thought that suggests that the Chinese government responds only to polite diplomacy and that any political pressure has no impact. Such a view is pure nonsense. China, like any former communist authority, is interested in its good image world wide, because of its ideological and commercial interests. To adopt Neville Chamberlain’s attitude from Munich would lead to a disaster. The policy of appeasement rarely works with aspiring world powers with global aspirations.

Despite of my earlier comments about the emergence of people’s power in China, at the moment the Chinese regime seems to be stable. Since the 1989 Tiananmen protests, it seems to have regained the support of its intellectuals and educated classes. It seems that one party rule is not being challenged. The CCP controls the lion’s share of economic resources and dispenses the most valued economic, professional and intellectual opportunities and rewards. Patriotism and nationalism resulting from the current economic success also plays an important role.

The question is how long the Party will be able to maintain China’s economic growth. And its current ability to co-opt its educated elites is yet to be answered. The question is also about actual strength and sustainability of the emerging people’s power.

Not that long ago Soviet block looked equally stable. But if one takes Moscow Olympics as a guide, it did not add to the long term standing the Soviet Union. On the contrary, it delivered the first important step on the way to the collapse of the Soviet Union ten years later in 1990. The Nazi regime only lasted nine years following the 1936 Berlin Olympics.

Also, remember not that long ago peoples’ power crumbled the Berlin wall and brought an end to the Soviet empire. People’s power abolished apartheid in South Africa.

China after the Olympics will certainly be a different nation. My hope remains that China, sooner rather then later, will emerge as a nation where civil liberties are valued and respected and Chinese governments are elected by the people and for the people.

This article is an edited version of an address given by the author to The Activating Human Rights and Peace International Conference in Byron Bay on July 1-4, 2008. The full text is available here.

Dr Sev Ozdowski OAM is Adjunct Professor at the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, The University of Sydney and was Australian Human Rights Commissioner and Disability Discrimination Commissioner (2000-05).

OLYMPIC WATCH: Human Rights in China and Beijing 2008