Chinese promises

Chinese promises
October 21st, 2006  

Topic: Chinese promises

Chinese promises
17 October, 2006
Campaigners tell Olympic committee in open letter: our human rights are denied

A group of Chinese lawyers and human rights activists wrote to the IOC chairman to point out that improvements in human rights promised by Beijing five years ago are not yet in evidence. Instead a crackdown on dissent is under way.

Beijing (AsiaNews) – Five years after Beijing was chosen to host the 2008 Olympic Games, “the improvements in human rights promised by the government are not yet in evidence”. If anything, the Communist regime “has launched a campaign of repression that aims to choke any dissenting voice”. So the International Olympic Committee (IOC) should press the Chinese government, in full Olympic spirit, to fulfill its promises.”

This was the request made in an open letter written to the IOC chairman, Jacques Rogge, by a group of Chinese lawyers and human rights activists. The signatories include Hu Jia – renowned across the country for his struggle against AIDS – and lawyers currently taken up with the defence of Chen Guangcheng, Gao Zhisheng and Guo Feixiong, activists who have become symbols of the fight for democracy.

They wrote: “At this year's April meeting of the International Olympic Committee in Seoul, you drew attention to the human rights situation in China. However, since that meeting, respect for human rights has worsened. Today, in China, not only are all Chinese denied their constitutional rights, legal professionals and lawyers who work as rights defenders are denied their human rights.”

“This past March, a well-known rights defender, Chen Guangcheng, who is blind, lost his freedom. In August, a famous lawyer Gao Zhisheng was arrested. In September, Guo Feixiong was also arrested; he had helped residents of Taishi in their struggle against corruption. Gao was arrested because he wanted to defend Chen in court: the same thing happened to Guo who wanted to defend Gao. These are just three cases of the serious deterioration of human rights in the past six months.”

The letter said: “The human and civil rights defended by these three men throughout their careers are all clearly spelled out in the Constitution and Chinese law: however, if people seek to put them into practice, to defend them, they are attacked and persecuted. Many more activists were persecuted before these three: Zheng Enchong, Yang Zaixin, Guo Guoting… The list is a long one”.

“There are less than two years to go before the 2008 Beijing Olympics," continued the letter. "The Chinese government is already preparing an illusion of peace and prosperity to mislead visitors. In doing so, they feel that voices critical of the government need to be crushed. That is exactly why they are engaging in large scale suppression of the human rights movement in China. They are anxious to crush Chen Guangcheng, Gao Zhisheng, and Guo Feixiong in an effort to intimidate others.”

“In this new round of suppression, the media has not escaped: this is evident from extensive protests last month against the announcement of "Management Measures" targeting news. The suppression of China's rights defenders is only part of a larger plan. We could call the plan the "Pre-2008 Beijing Olympics Cleansing."

The campaigners continued: “We welcome social harmony in China, and we are not unconditionally opposed to Beijiing hosting the Olympics. But we do want the 2008 Beijing Olympics to abide by the Olympic spirit. The Olympic Constitution is clear: internationally recognized human rights are not to be violated because of differing political or religious views. Thus, China’s harmony must not come at the cost of depriving the Chinese people of their human rights, or at the cost of cowing their defenders into silence.”

The letter also recalled that “when Beijing was chosen by the IOC to host the Games, the whole world had doubts. But Beijing vowed to improve its record. Five years have passed. How much has the human rights situation actually improved? Aren’t the recent arrests of our friends a clear indicator of what is happening?

The campaigners ended their letter by noting that “the Seoul Games and those held in South Africa were turning points for the countries hosting them and this is why we are writing to you: we know the IOC is not a humanitarian or a political organization but according to its expressed goals, we believe the committee is obligated to press the Chinese government to improve human and civil rights in China.”

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