Archive for the ‘Beijing Olympics’ Category

Beijing’s Massive Pre-Olympic People Relocation, Home Demolition a Human Rights Issue

April 27, 2008

John E, Carey
Peace and Freedom

Before the start of the Olympics, communist leaders in Beijing announced a plan to remove from the city the hordes of vagrants, homeless people and orphaned children who live on Beijing’s streets. Some estimate that as many as 2 million orphaned or homeless children alone live in Beijing.

The program is designed to make sure Westerners like you and me see the best of Beijing – even if that is only a temporary and false façade. TV viewers in the U.S., Canada, Europe and places like Japan can expect to see a completely sanitized Beijing this August.

Human rights groups are asking: “Where are they going and how are they getting there?”

China remains silent.  The removal and relocation of people from Beijing for the Olympics is shrouded in secrecy.
A group of slave laborers rescued from a brick kiln in Linfen, northern China's Shanxi province, in late May stand outside a police station. About 550 slave laborers have been freed from various brick kilns and mines in central China in the past month.
Last year, Western media discovered slaves working in China’s mines.  Many were young boys with no rights and miserable living conditions. Above: Slaves released in China after more than a year of forced labor.

Then there is the government removing homes and creating homeless — with little warning and little compensation.

The Washington Post reported in a long story by Jill Drew on Saturday April 26, 2008, that communist leaders in Beijing are buying up at below market value all the villagers’ houses near the Olympic venues.  As soon as the people vacate; their former homes are bulldozed into oblivion. 

“Su, Wang and another neighbor were the last three holdouts to fight for their families’ homes against developers who own rights to this land, just across the street from the main Olympic park in Beijing. The three have now been forced to join the thousands of people — housing advocates say hundreds of thousands — whose homes have been plowed under in the rush of Olympics-related construction over the past seven years,” wrote Ms. Drew.
A haze of pollution hangs over China's National Stadium, known as the bird's nest, the main venue for the Beijing Olympics beginning Aug. 8.
A haze of pollution hangs over China’s National Stadium, known as the bird’s nest, the main venue for the Beijing Olympics beginning Aug. 8. Many of the homes in the area of the stadium have been bulldozed away and no longer exist. (By Greg Baker – Associated Press)

“Less than four months before the Summer Games open, the forced relocations in Beijing are highlighting another cost of the Olympics, as residents make way for such architectural glories as the National Stadium, known as the bird’s nest, and the apartment and office towers springing up nearby,” Ms. Drew reported for the Post. “Whole neighborhoods have been wiped out. Especially controversial has been the destruction of about 800 of the city’s 1,200 hutongs, lanes full of traditional, courtyard-style houses.”

“You can never win when you sue the government,” said Su.  Meaning you can never stay and you can never recoup the full value of your home.

Beijing is being remade for you and me and other TV viewers and Olympic tourists.  But there is a price; a toll that can only be measured in human suffering.  Because China is a communist holdout, the people have no rights and no voice.  The government is free to abuse its own population.  That’s always a prescription for abuses: and today in Beijing a blind man can see that the displaced, poor and “without voice” are powerless to resist their communist government….

China Falls Short on Vows for Olympics

April 21, 2008

By Jill Drew and Maureen Fan
The Washington Post
Monday, April 21, 2008; Page A01
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BEIJING, April 20 — China has spent billions of dollars to fulfill its commitment to stage a grand Olympics. Athletes will compete in world-class stadiums. New highways and train lines crisscross Beijing. China built the world’s largest airport terminal to welcome an expected 500,000 foreign visitors. Thousands of newly planted trees and dozens of colorful “One World, One Dream” billboards line the main roads of a spruced-up capital. The security system has impressed the FBI and Interpol.
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But beneath the shimmer and behind the slogan, China is under criticism for suppressing Tibetan protests, sealing off large portions of the country to foreign reporters, harassing and jailing dissidents and not doing enough to curb air pollution. It has not lived up to a pledge in its Olympic action plan, released in 2002, to “be open in every aspect,” and a constitutional amendment adopted in 2004 to recognize and protect human rights has not shielded government critics from arrest.
A haze of pollution hangs over China's National Stadium, known as the bird's nest, the main venue for the Beijing Olympics beginning Aug. 8.
A haze of pollution hangs over China’s National Stadium, known as the bird’s nest, the main venue for the Beijing Olympics beginning Aug. 8. (By Greg Baker – Associated Press)
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The two realities show that when China had to build something new to fulfill expectations, it has largely delivered. But in areas that touch China’s core interests, Olympic pledges come second.
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“To ensure a successful Olympic Games, the government did make some technical and strategic efforts to improve the environment, human rights and press freedom. They did make some progress. But in these three areas, there’s a long, long way to go,” said Cheng Yizhong, an editor who tracks China’s Olympic preparations.
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With the Games less than four months away, the International Olympic Committee is scrambling to nail down specifics of how China will treat criticism of its actions during the event. Pressed this month, IOC President Jacques Rogge clarified that athletes would be allowed to speak freely in Beijing’s Olympic venues, calling it an “absolute” human right.
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“I can’t help but feel cynical about all this,” said David Wallechinsky, an Olympic historian, who said the IOC should have been more forceful with China earlier. “What are they going to do, take away the Games?”

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http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/04/20/AR2008042002044.html?hpid=topnews

China urges calm after anti-Western demonstrations

April 20, 2008

By TINI TRAN, Associated Press Writer 

BEIJING – Fresh anti-Western protests flared in several Chinese cities Sunday as people vented anger over pro-Tibet demonstrations along the Olympic torch relay. State media appealed for calm in an apparent attempt to dampen the nationalistic fervor.
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Over the weekend, protesters waving Chinese flags have rallied in front of the French Embassy in Beijing and at outlets of French retailer Carrefour in nine cities across the country. They have threatened boycotts of the retailer, whom they accuse of supporting the Dalai Lama, Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader — a charge Carrefour denies.

Tibetan native now living in Ann Arbor, Lob Sang, left, made ...
Tibetan native now living in Ann Arbor, Lob Sang, left, made his difference of opinion known to demonstrators, right, during the Dalai Lama’s visit to the University of Michigan on Sunday, April 20, 2008, in Ann Arbor, Mich. Many demonstrators wore T-shirts that read ‘Support Beijing 2008,’ a reference to the upcoming summer Olympics. (AP Photo/Jerry S. Mendoza)

A front-page editorial in the People’s Daily newspaper, the official mouthpiece for the Chinese Communist Party, called for calm, urging people to cherish patriotism “while expressing it in a rational way.”

“As citizens, we have the responsibility to express our patriotic enthusiasm calmly and rationally and express patriotic aspiration in an orderly and legal manner,” the commentary said.

The editorial seemed to reflect concern among China’s leaders about a growing anti-Western backlash, fueled by anger over the demonstrations in Paris, London and San Francisco during the Olympic torch relay. The relay has become a magnet for protests against China‘s rule in Tibet and its human rights record.

Barry Sautman, a political scientist at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, said the government is trying to rein in the demonstrations in order to ensure calm and project an inviting image ahead of the Beijing Olympics in August.

“That’s why they want demonstrations to be very short,” Sautman said. “They want to wrap them up as soon as possible so they can go on to restore the image of China as welcoming to people around the world.”

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http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080420/ap_on_re_as/china_
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China hit by fresh anti-Western protests

April 20, 2008

BEIJING (AFP) – Fresh protests broke out across China on Sunday in reaction to the Western media’s coverage of China‘s handling of Tibet ahead of the Beijing Olympics, state media said.
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The latest demonstrations came after thousands of Chinese rallied Saturday in support of their country, with branches of the French retailer Carrefour heavily targeted.
Protestors hold Chinese national flags during a demonstration ... 
Protestors hold Chinese national flags during a demonstration against Carrefour supermarket and French goods in Wuhan in central China’s Hubei province Saturday, April 19, 2008. The unrest in Tibet and protests during the worldwide Olympic torch relay have created a backlash of anger inside China against those viewed as supporting independence for Tibet. There is an online movement in China to boycott the French retail chain Carrefour due to protests in Paris during the torch relay.(AP Photo)

People gathered in front of Carrefour stores, chanting slogans of “Oppose Tibet independence” and “Oppose CNN’s anti-China statements,” referring to the international broadcaster, the official Xinhua news agency said.

They also chanted “Support the Olympics,” “Play up! China,” and “Condemn CNN” through loudspeakers.

More than 1,000 people assembled in front of a Carrefour store in the northwestern city of Xian holding protest banners, Xinhua said.

There were also demonstrations in the northeastern city of Harbin and the eastern city of Jinan, the report added.

The protests came despite the deployment of police in massive numbers across China after weeks of state-approved anti-Western rhetoric culminated in Saturday’s protests.

Police surrounded branches of Carrefour, which has been at the centre of a boycott by Chinese consumers over its alleged support of the Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama — a claim it denies.

At one point, 53 police cars were seen on the rooftop parking lot of a Carrefour store in the eastern Chinese city of Qingdao, an AFP photographer witnessed. Dozens of law enforcement vehicles were seen on the streets around the store, he said.

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http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20080420/wl_afp/chinaunresttibet
rightsoly2008france_080420075257

Tibet an ‘international issue,’ Japan PM tells China

April 18, 2008

TOKYO (AFP) – Japan‘s Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda bluntly told China Friday that Tibetan unrest had become an international issue, contradicting Beijing‘s official line, and hinted it could hit the Olympics.

Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi (L) talks with Japanese ...
Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi (L) talks with Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda during a meeting held at the premier’s office in Tokyo. Fukuda bluntly told China Friday that Tibetan unrest had become an international issue, contradicting Beijing’s official line, and hinted it could hit the Olympics.
(AFP/POOL/Dai Kurokawa)

Yasuo Fukuda made the remarks to visiting Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi, who is paving the way for President Hu Jintao‘s much-anticipated trip here next month.

“Prime Minister Fukuda stated that there was a need to face up to the reality that the matter has become an international issue and that it should not affect the Olympics,” a foreign ministry statement said.

“It is desired that the Chinese side does all it can to solve the matter,” it quoted Fukuda as saying.

China has repeatedly countered criticism of its crackdown in the Himalayan region by saying its handling of protests last month was strictly an internal matter.

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http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20080418/wl_asia_afp/
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Amnesty lays into China on rights before Olympics

April 2, 2008
By John Ruwitch Wed Apr 2, 3:06 AM ET

BEIJING (Reuters) – The Olympics have so far failed to catalyze reform in China and pledges to improve human rights before the Games look disingenuous after a string of violations in Beijing and a crackdown in Tibet, Amnesty International said.
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The International Olympic Committee (IOC), foreign leaders and overseas companies engaging with China could appear complicit if they failed to speak out about the rights violations, the London-based watchdog said on Wednesday as the volume of criticism of China grows around the world.

Beijing signed up for the Games hoping they would showcase the country’s progress and national unity, but the Olympics year so far has seen pressure mount, chiefly over China’s policy towards Sudan and Myanmar and its human rights record, most recently in Tibet.

In and around Beijing, Chinese authorities have silenced and imprisoned human rights activists in a pre-Olympics “clean up,” Amnesty said.

Amnesty, which introduced a bandana-wearing monkey mascot to head its “Uncensor China” campaign, also said the crackdown on a rash of demonstrations in and around Tibet in recent weeks had led to “serious human rights violations.”

“These actions cast doubt on whether the Chinese authorities are really serious about their commitment to improve human rights in the run up to the Olympics,” Irene Khan, Secretary General of Amnesty International, said in a statement.

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http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20080402/wl_nm/
olympics_rights_amnesty_dc_2

China and Olympics: Not the Torch of Liberty

April 1, 2008

By Rebiya Kadeer
The Washington Post
Tuesday, April 1, 2008; Page A1

The world has watched in horror recently as Tibetan monks, nuns and laypeople engaged in peaceful demonstrations have been met with brutality by the Chinese People’s Armed Police. Tibet‘s descent into chaos and violence is heartbreaking. As has been made clear by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, who has dedicated his life to peacefully promoting the Tibetan people’s legitimate aspirations for cultural autonomy and survival, lasting peace and meaningful change must be achieved through nonviolent means.

In watching recent coverage of the demonstrations in Tibet and their bloody aftermath, I have been reminded of a turning point in my own life, the moment I decided I had no choice but to speak out against the Chinese government’s policy of cultural destruction and its human rights abuses. It was a decision that led to six years in a Chinese prison and then to exile in the United States. Two of my sons are serving lengthy prison sentences in East Turkestan in retaliation for my human rights advocacy.

In February 1997, thousands of Uighurs demanding equality, religious freedom and an end to repression by the government peacefully protested in the Ghulja region of East Turkestan, an area designated the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region by the Chinese government. Armed paramilitary police confronted the unarmed demonstrators and bystanders, killing dozens on the spot, including women and young children. In the aftermath of the protest, thousands of Uighurs were detained on suspicion of participating in the demonstration. Tragically, hundreds of Uighurs were executed.

Just as I grieved with and for the families of the Uighurs killed in the Ghulja massacre, I grieve for the families of peaceful Tibetan demonstrators who have been killed or detained by Chinese police, perhaps never to be seen again. I have seen firsthand the suffering of parents who have lost their sons or daughters to an executioner’s bullet or a dark prison cell.

Because of our shared experience under the Chinese regime, Uighurs stand in solidarity with the Tibetan people and support their legitimate aspirations for genuine autonomy. The Chinese government’s fierce repression of religious expression, its intolerance for any expression of discontent, its discriminatory economic policies and its support for the movement of migrants have linked Tibet and East Turkestan and have led to the tremendous social tensions in both regions. To Beijing, any Tibetan or Uighur who is unhappy with China‘s harsh rule is a “separatist.” Uighurs are also labeled “terrorists.”

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http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/03/31/AR2008033102156.html

Tibetans Protest & China Awaits Olympic Torch

March 30, 2008

NEW DELHI (AFP) – Several dozen Tibetans in India on Sunday unveiled an “independence torch” in New Delhi that will be carried around the world in an anti-China protest ahead of the Summer Olympics in Beijing.
 
Tibetan activists carry an “Independence Torch” during a rally in New Delhi on March 30, 2008. Several dozen Tibetans in India on Sunday unveiled an “independence torch” in New Delhi that will be carried around the world in an anti-China protest ahead of the Summer Olympics in Beijing.(AFP/Manpreet Romana)

The torch was brought from the northern Indian town of Dharamshala — home to the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan spiritual leader, and the government-in-exile.

The next stop for the protest flame is San Francisco, where the real Olympic torch is expected on April 9.

“This relay is to protest Chinese rule in Tibet. We also don’t want the Olympic torch to go to Tibet because it is not a part of China,” said Urgyen Chophel, president of the Tibetan Youth Congress.

China has come under increasing international pressure over its crackdown against protesters in the Tibetan capital Lhasa and Chinese provinces bordering the Himalayan region.

Tibetan activist groups have put the death toll from weeks of unrest at 135-140 Tibetans. China says rioters killed 18 civilians and two police officers.

Protesters disrupted the Olympic torch-lighting ceremony in Greece last Monday.

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http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20080330/wl_sthasia_
afp/chinaunresttibetrights
oly2008chntorch_080330125825

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China awaits Olympic torch amid Tibet tensions

By Dan Martin Sun

BEIJING, March 30, 2008 (AFP) – China on Sunday stepped up security on the eve of the arrival of the Olympic torch from Greece, where protesters angry over Beijing‘s crackdown in Tibet tried to disrupt the handover of the flame.

Authorities in Beijing clamped down on Tiananmen Square, where the torch will be officially welcomed to the country on Monday before a worldwide relay expected to be dogged by protests over the deadly unrest in Tibet.

Tensions continued to simmer in the Himalayan region, with activist groups reporting a fresh protest in Lhasa at the weekend, while in neighbouring Nepal, police baton-charged Tibetan protesters Sunday, detaining more than 100 people.

In Athens, Greek officials handed the Olympic flame to the head of the Beijing organising committee, Liu Qi, after police arrested a handful of protesters shouting “Free Tibet”.

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http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20080330/wl_
afp/chinaunresttibet
rightsoly2008chn_080330144337

Activist: Dozens still jailed in China over 1989 protests

March 29, 2008

HONG KONG – A human rights activist says at least 60 people are still jailed in China for protests by pro-democracy demonstrators in 1989 at Beijing‘s Tiananmen Square. John Kamm said in a speech in Hong Kong today that between 60 and 100 such protesters remain jailed and he urged China to release them before the Beijing Olympics.

Kamm also says he’s concerned that China has released fewer names of political prisoners since 1989.

Kamm is executive director of the San Francisco-based Dui Hua Foundation, a group that advocates for political prisoners and researches Chinese prisons.

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http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080329/ap_on_re_as/oly_tiananmen_prisoners_1

China offers its own version of protests

March 23, 2008
By CARA ANNA, Associated Press Writer Sat Mar 22, 7:09 PM ET

CHENGDU, China – With restive Tibetan areas swarming with troops and closed to scrutiny from the outside world, China’s government turned up efforts Saturday to put its own version of the unrest before the international public.

Paramilitary police march in a street in Zhongdian, in a Tibetan ...
Paramilitary police march in a street in Zhongdian, in a Tibetan area known as Shangri-La, in China’s southwest Yunnan province Saturday March 22, 2008. Thousands of troops have moved into Tibetan areas of western China following last week’s anti-government riots in Tibet’s capital, Lhasa.(AP Photo/Greg Baker)

Information barely trickled out of the Tibetan capital Lhasa and other far-flung Tibetan communities, where foreign media were banned and thousands of troops dispatched to quell the most widespread demonstrations against Chinese rule in nearly five decades.

The Chinese government was attempting to fill the vacuum with its own message. It disseminated footage of Tibetan protesters attacking Chinese and accusations of biased reporting by Western media via TV, the Internet, e-mail and YouTube, which is blocked in China. The communist government’s leading newspaper called to “resolutely crush” the Tibetan demonstrations.

The media barrage underscored that the government campaign is moving into a new phase of damage control ahead of the much-anticipated Beijing Olympics in August.

While China’s rigorous policing of the Internet is far from foolproof, its official Internet is pervasive and there is no easy access to an alternative in the country. The difficulty of confirming what is going on inside Tibet may also be hindering a stronger world reaction.

“They’ve successfully managed the messages available to the average Chinese citizen, and this has fueled broad public support for a heavy-handed approach to controlling unrest,” said David Bandurski, a Hong Kong University expert on Chinese media. “There will be no nuances to Tibet coverage.”

CNN’s bureau in Beijing has been deluged in recent days by a barrage of harassing phone calls and faxes that accuse the organization of unfair coverage. An e-mail to United Nations-based reporters purportedly from China’s U.N. mission sent an Internet link to a 15-minute state television program showing Tibetans attacking Chinese in Lhasa.

A slideshow posted on YouTube accused CNN, Germany‘s Der Spiegel and other media of cropping pictures to show Chinese military while screening out Tibetan rioters or putting pictures of Indian and Nepalese police wrestling Tibetan protesters with captions about China’s crackdown.

Though of uncertain origin, the piece at least had official blessing, with excerpts appearing on the official English-language China Daily and on state TV.

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http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080322/ap_on_re_
as/china_tibet;_ylt=Aij1
CjWC6LlLVn_765DN.bus0NUE