Archive for the ‘free and fair elections’ Category

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.”

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

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China Highlighting Its Brutal Side

March 22, 2008

Letter to the Editor;
The Washington Times

In reference to the article “Tibet called plot to ruin Olympics” (World, Wednesday),it is dismaying to see China’s government lay blame and trample media freedoms so close to the 2008 Summer Olympics.

Chinese paramilitary policemen patrol along a street in Kangding ...
Chinese paramilitary policemen patrol along a street in Kangding county in Sichuan province. China turned its back on appeals for dialogue with the Dalai Lama, vowing to smash anti-China forces in Tibet, where it said the death toll in recent unrest had risen to 19.(AFP/Teh Eng Koon)

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The government has done everything possible to suppress the internal flow of information on its crackdown in Tibet, including shutting down China’s YouTube Web site and the access of journalists, both foreign and domestic, to Tibet.
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Chinese journalist Hu Jia arrested last year without trial has been trotted out to have his day in court, or rather to provide a display that will surely intimidate other disobedient journalists.
China human rights defender Hu Jia, pictured in 2007, went on ... 
China human rights defender Hu Jia, pictured in 2007, went on trial in Beijing Tuesday, as the government scrambled to deflect global criticism of its human rights record amid a crackdown on protests in Tibet.(AFP/File/Frederic J. Brown)
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These events mark the last straw for the international organization Reporters Without Borders, which on March 18 called for a boycott of the Olympic Games.
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Indeed, the reach of Beijing’s media restrictions is not limited by national borders. Taiwan journalists are continually barred from covering international meetings such as the World Health Assembly due to China’s objections.
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Information about the proceedings in these meetings is crucial to Taiwan’s 23 million citizens, as their government applies to participate in the World Health Organization annually on their behalf.
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China cannot become a truly respected member of the international community until its government behaves like a worthwhile neighbor.
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PHILIP SHIH
Press officer
Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office

China on balancing beam ahead of Olympics

March 16, 2008
by Dan Martin

BEIJING (AFP) – The Beijing Olympics were supposed to mark China‘s debut as a modern nation that commands respect, even admiration, but instead of that dream, the country’s leaders face a PR nightmare.

In this image made from video and provided by APTN, authorities ...
In this image made from video and provided by APTN, authorities walk down an avenue, Friday, March 14, 2008, in Gansu Province, Xiahe, China. Police fired tear gas to disperse Buddhist monks and others staging a second day of protests Saturday in western China in sympathy with anti-Chinese demonstrations in Lhasa, local residents said.(AP Photo/APTN)

A crackdown on unrest in Tibet has added to mounting pressure on China over human rights and other issues that threaten to tarnish the coming-out party, pushing its Communist leaders into an uncomfortable corner, analysts said.

“This is the worst thing that could have happened for China,” China scholar Jean Philippe Beja said of deadly unrest in the Tibetan capital Lhasa that has forced an army lock down of the city.

“The Chinese and Tibetan leaders are facing a no-win situation,” said Beja, of the Centre for International Research in Paris.

With five months to go before the world’s athletes begin competing here, China’s communist government finds itself teetering on a political balance beam, observers and dissidents said.

Aside from Tibet, China is under fire for its tough rule in the Muslim-dominated Xinjiang region, for restricting press and religious freedoms, and its support of Sudan, which is blamed for the massive bloodshed in Darfur.

Read the rest:
 http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20080316/sp_wl_afp/
chinaunresttibetrightschnolypolitics_080316030233

Taiwan criticises China over Tibet

March 15, 2008

TAIPEI (Reuters) – Taiwan officials and the ruling party’s presidential candidate condemned China’s move against rioters in Tibet, linking it to their own island that China claims as its own and has threatened with force.

“As we ook at Tibet, we must think about our own fate,” said Frank Hsieh, presidential candidate from Taiwan’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party, which favours formal independence from China.

A Tibetan is arrested by police during anti-China protests in ...
 A  Tibetan is arrested by police during anti-China protests in front of the United Nations office in Kathmandu March 15, 2008. Nepal has effectively closed Mount Everest to climbers until after May 10 to allow the Olympic flame to be carried to the top without being troubled by Tibetan protesters, a senior minister said on Friday.
(Shruti Shrestha/Reuters)

China has claimed sovereignty over self-ruled Taiwan since 1949, when Mao Zedong’s Communists won the Chinese civil war and Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalists (KMT) fled to the island. Beijing has vowed to bring Taiwan under its rule, by force if necessary.

“Tibet is a test case for China’s application of the anti-secession law,” Hsieh added, referring to Beijing’s 2005 edict authorising use of force in extreme cases against Taiwan.

Hsieh trails his opponent Ma Ying-jeou from the main opposition KMT opinion polls ahead of the March 22 election. The KMT once ruled all of China and is seen as more mainland-friendly.

Ma also condemned the violence on Saturday, but does not believe it relates to Taiwan, his spokesman Lo Chih-chiang said.

Read the rest:
http://uk.news.yahoo.com/rtrs/20080315/tpl-uk-china-tibet-taiwan-43a8d4f.html

A Whiff of Openness at China’s Congress

March 14, 2008

By Jill Drew 
Washington Post Foreign Service
Friday, March 14, 2008; Page A13

BEIJING — China is awash in policy proposals as more than 5,000 people meet this month to ratify laws handed down by Communist Party leaders. The official Chinese news media portray it as democracy in action — delegates, selected by local officials to represent their regions, offer ideas for laws they believe will improve conditions back home.
China's Polituro standing member and likely future successor ... 
China’s Polituro standing member and likely future successor to President Hu, Xi Jinping, foreground, delivers remarks as China’s President Hu Jintao looks on during the plenary session of the National People’s Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing in this March 11, 2008 file photo. Entrusted with the Beijing Olympics and set to be made vice president, Xi Jinpeng is moving closer to cementing his status as China’s future president and Communist Party leader.
(AP Photo/Andy Wong)

The Great Hall of the People is not exactly filled with activists and partisans vigorously debating the future of the country’s leadership. That topic is off-limits. Still, the delegates are engaged in an elaborate process that analysts say is opening a window on President Hu Jintao‘s tentative efforts to make the Communist Party relevant and to provide a controlled forum for debate.

Chinese officials have trumpeted the openness and inclusiveness of this year’s two-week National People’s Congress (NPC) and a concurrent set of meetings by the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Congress, the government’s top advisory body. Proposals are being published for public comment instead of just being offered for a rubber-stamp vote. There are noticeably more news conferences than in years past. And for the first time, several meetings of the provincial delegations have been opened to journalists.

In meetings, delegates can disagree with party positions and suggest alternatives, said David Shambaugh, director of the China policy program at George Washington University. “But if you go out and organize others,” he said, “the red line is crossed.”

Read the rest:
 http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/03/13/AR2008031303651.html

U.S. to keep pressing Vietnam on jailed activists

March 13, 2008

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States will use human rights talks with Vietnam in May to press for the release of political prisoners, including a U.S. citizen jailed last year, the top U.S. diplomat for Asia said on Wednesday.
 

A woman walks past a branch of Vietnam's Investment and ...
 woman walks past a branch of Vietnam’s Investment and Development Bank in Hanoi March 11, 2008.
REUTERS/KHAM (VIETNAM)

U.S . Assistant Secretary of State Chris Hill, who visited Hanoi this month, told a U.S. Senate hearing he had raised the jailings of Nguyen Quoc Quan of California and other democracy activists with Vietnamese authorities and would keep on pressing these and other cases.

“We will continue to push vigorously for a greater expansion of the civil and political rights of all Vietnamese citizens and for the release of all political prisoners,” Hill said in a written statement to the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.

Hill testified before the Subcommittee on East Asian and Pacific Affairs a day after the State Department’s annual report….

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http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20080312/pl_nm/
rights_vietnam_usa_dc_1

U.S. eases criticism of China and targets Russia

March 11, 2008
By Sue Pleming 

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States took aim at Russia on Tuesday in its annual report on human rights, accusing the government of corruption and electoral abuses, but seemed to ease criticism of China ahead of the Olympic Games.

Paramilitary policemen stand in front of a bus with Olympic ...
Paramilitary policemen stand in front of a us with Olympic mascots in the window as they watch delegates from the National People’s Congress (NPC) walk towards the Great Hall of the People in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square March 11, 2008.(David Gray/Reuters)

In examining human rights in more than 190 countries last year, the State Department also criticized its usual targets Pakistan, Afghanistan, North Korea, Cuba, Iran, Sudan, China, Nepal, Syria and Zimbabwe.

“Countries in which power was concentrated in the hands of unaccountable rulers remained the world’s most systematic human rights violators,” said the report, which is widely resented by foreign governments that come under fire.

In a gesture likely to annoy human rights groups, the State Department did not include China among the world’s worst offenders like last year but Beijing‘s record on the issue was described as “poor.”

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20080311/ts_nm/right_
usa_dc_4

Chinese Get Past Communist Internet Blocks

February 7, 2008

By Edward Lanfranco
The Washington Times
February 7, 2008

BEIJING — Chinese Internet censorship is little more than a joke to Li Shenwen, an unemployed computer game enthusiast who remained glued to his keyboard well past midnight in a dingy “Wangba” or “NetBar” on a recent Saturday night.
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Official blocks on controversial or political Web sites pose no obstacle to any experienced user who wants to get past them, said Mr. Li, who picks up spending money by amassing points in computer games and selling them to a broker who in turn sells them online to avid but inept Western gamers.
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Reluctant to be distracted from his profitable pursuit, Mr. Li, in his mid-20s, offered a $14 wager that he could get to any three blocked sites in less than five minutes. The bet was made.
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Opening a new browser, he promptly brought up outlawed content in Chinese and English from YouTube, Voice of America, Falun Gong and, for added measure, Reporters Without Borders — all within less than three minutes.
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“You could have asked anyone here to do this,” Mr. Li said with a wave around the room. But he added, they are more interested in using skills to access restricted pornography sites than to read about politics.

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http://www.washingtontimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080207/FOREIGN/292517276/1001

Communist Candidate Says Russia Elections “Can’t Be Fair”

February 4, 2008

MOSCOW (AFP)–The veteran leader of Russia’s Communist Party Monday said a March 2 presidential election wouldn’t be honest but vowed to keep his name on the ballot for the sake of democracy.

“Elections in Russia cannot be fair,” Gennady Zyuganov said as he set out his platform at a news conference on the first working day of the campaign. “Thieves cannot organize free elections.”

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http://www.nasdaq.com/aspxcontent/NewsStory.aspx?cpath=20080204%5cACQDJON200802040753DOWJONESDJONL
INE000257.htm
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Russia accuses Europe vote watchdog of “sabotage”

February 1, 2008
By Conor Sweeney

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia accused Europe‘s main election watchdog on Friday of trying to sabotage plans for monitoring its presidential election, the latest round of an increasingly bitter dispute with the West over democracy.

Russia's President Vladimir Putin chairs a session of the State ...
Russia’s President Vladimir Putin chairs a session of the State Security Council at the Kremlin in Moscow January 30, 2008.(Alexander Zemlianichenko/Pool/Reuters)

Russia’s Foreign Ministry said the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s (OSCE) monitoring body ODIHR was playing political games over next month’s election.

President Vladimir Putin‘s chosen successor Dmitry Medvedev….

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http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20080201/wl_nm/
russia_election_dc_3