Archive for the ‘human rights abuses’ Category

The Real China and the Olympics

April 5, 2008

By Hu Jia and teng Biao
The Washington Post
Saturday, April 5, 2008; Page A15 

This week, a Beijing court sentenced human rights activist Hu Jia to 3 1/2 years in prison for subverting state authority and to one additional year’s loss of his “political rights.” He was arrested in part for co-authoring, with Teng Biao, an open letter on human rights. Below, The Post printsHuman Rights Watch‘s translation of the Sept. 10, 2007, letter.

On July 13th 2001, when Beijing won the right to host the 2008 Olympic Games, the Chinese government promised the world it would improve China‘s human rights record. In June 2004, Beijing announced its Olympic Games slogan, “One World, One Dream.” From their inception in 1896, the modern Olympic Games have always had as their mission the promotion of human dignity and world peace.

Chinese President Hu Jintao lights a cauldron with the Olympic ...
Chinese President Hu Jintao lights a cauldron with the Olympic torch at a ceremony in March 2008. A special envoy of Tibet’s spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, called on Beijing Thursday to cancel plans to carry the Olympic torch through Tibet, saying it was a “provocative” move after the Chinese crackdown of protests in the Himalayan territory.(AFP/File/Peter Parks)

China and the world expected to see the Olympic Games bring political progress to the country. Is Beijing keeping its promises? Is China improving its human rights record?

When you come to the Olympic Games in Beijing, you will see skyscrapers, spacious streets, modern stadiums and enthusiastic people. You will see the truth, but not the whole truth, just as you see only the tip of an iceberg. You may not know that the flowers, smiles, harmony and prosperity are built on a base of grievances, tears, imprisonment, torture and blood.

We are going to tell you the truth about China. We believe that for anyone who wishes to avoid a disgraceful Olympics, knowing the truth is the first step. Fang Zheng, an excellent athlete who holds two national records for the discus throw at China’s Special Sport Games, has been deprived of the opportunity to participate in the 2008 Paralympics because he has become a living testimony to the June 4, 1989[,] massacre.
Zeng Jinyan -- the wife of human rights activist Hu Jia -- weeps ... 
Zeng Jinyan — the wife of human rights activist Hu Jia — weeps as she speaks to the media outside a courthouse in Beijing. Hu Jia was sentenced to 3 1/2 years in prison this week by China.
(AFP/File/Teh Eng Koon)

That morning, in Tiananmen Square, his legs were crushed by a tank while he was rescuing a fellow student. In April 2007, the Ministry of Public Security issued an internal document secretly strengthening a political investigation which resulted in forbidding Olympics participation by 43 types of people from 11 different categories, including dissidents, human rights defenders, media workers, and religious participants. The Chinese police never made the document known to either the Chinese public or the international community.

Huge investment in Olympic projects and a total lack of transparency have facilitated serious corruption and widespread bribery. Taxpayers are not allowed to supervise the use of investment amounting to more than $40 billion. Liu Zhihua, formerly in charge of Olympic construction and former deputy mayor of Beijing, was arrested for massive embezzlement.

Chinese activist Hu Jia, seen here in 2007, was jailed for three-and-a-half ...
Chinese activist Hu Jia, seen here in 2007, was jailed for three-and-a-half years for subversion. Rights groups said the charge is part of China’s campaign to silence dissent before the Olympics.(AFP/File/Frederic J. Brown)

To clear space for Olympic-related construction, thousands of civilian houses have been destroyed without their former owners being properly compensated. Brothers Ye Guozhu and Ye Guoqiang were imprisoned for a legal appeal after their house was forcibly demolished. Ye Guozhu has been repeatedly handcuffed and shackled, tied to a bed and beaten with electric batons. During the countdown to the Olympic Games he will continue to suffer from torture in Chaobei Prison in Tianjin.

It has been reported that over 1.25 million people have been forced to move because of Olympic construction; it was estimated that the figure would reach 1.5 million by the end of 2007. No formal resettlement scheme is in place for the over 400,000 migrants who have had their dwelling places demolished. Twenty percent of the demolished households are expected to experience poverty or extreme poverty. In Qingdao, the Olympic sailing city, hundreds of households have been demolished and many human rights activists as well as “civilians” have been imprisoned. Similar stories come from other Olympic cities such as Shenyang, Shanghai and Qinhuangdao.

In order to establish the image of civilized cities, the government has intensified the ban against — and detention and forced repatriation of — petitioners, beggars and the homeless. Some of them have been kept in extended detention in so-called shelters or have even been sent directly to labor camps. Street vendors have suffered brutal confiscation of their goods by municipal agents. On July 20, 2005, Lin Hongying, a 56-year-old woman farmer and vegetable dealer, was beaten to death by city patrols in Jiangsu. On November 19, 2005, city patrols in Wuxi beat 54-year-old bicycle repairman Wu Shouqing to death. In January 2007, petitioner Duan Huimin was killed by Shanghai police. On July 1, 2007, Chen Xiaoming, a Shanghai petitioner and human rights activist, died of an untreated illness during a lengthy detention period. On August 5, 2007, right before the one-year Olympics countdown, 200 petitioners were arrested in Beijing.

China has consistently persecuted human rights activists, political dissidents and freelance writers and journalists. The blind activist Chen Guangcheng, recipient of the 2007 Ramon Magsaysay Award and named in 2006 by Time Magazine as one of the most influential 100 people shaping our world, is still serving his sentence of four years and three months for exposing the truth of forced abortion and sterilization. The government refused to give him the Braille books and the radio that his relatives and friends brought to Linyi prison in Shandong. Chen has been beaten while serving his sentence. On August 24, 2007, Chen’s wife, Yuan Weijing, was kidnapped by police at the Beijing airport while waiting to fly to the Philippines to receive the Ramon Magsaysay Award on behalf of her husband. On August 13, 2007, activist Yang Chunlin was arrested in Heilongjiang and charged with subversion of state power “for initiating the petition ‘Human Rights before Olympics.’ ”

China still practices literary inquisition and holds the world record for detaining journalists and writers, as many as several hundred since 1989, according to incomplete statistics. As of this writing, 35 Chinese journalists and 51 writers are still in prison. Over 90 percent were arrested or tried after Beijing’s successful bid for the Olympics in July 2001. For example, Shi Tao, a journalist and a poet, was sentenced to ten years in prison because of an e-mail sent to an overseas website. Dr. Xu Zerong, a scholar from Oxford University who researched the Korean War, was sentenced to 13 years’ imprisonment for “illegally providing information abroad.” Qingshuijun [Huang Jinqiu], a freelance writer, was sentenced to a 12-year term for his online publications. Some writers and dissidents are prohibited from going abroad; others from returning to China.

 

Every year in mainland China, countless websites are closed, blogs deleted, sensitive words filtered. Many websites hosted abroad are blocked. Overseas radio and television programs are interfered with or strictly prohibited. Although the Chinese government has promised media freedom for foreign journalists for 22 months, before, during, and after the Beijing Olympics, and ending on October 17, 2008, an FCCC [Foreign Correspondents Club in China] survey showed that 40 percent of foreign correspondents have experienced harassment, detention or an official warning during news gathering in Beijing and other areas. Some reporters have complained about repeated violent police interference at the time they were speaking with interviewees. Most seriously, Chinese interviewees usually become vulnerable as a result. In June 2006, Fu Xiancai was beaten and paralyzed after being interviewed by German media. In March 2007, Zheng Dajing was beaten and arrested after being interviewed by a British TV station.

Religious freedom is still under repression. In 2005, a Beijing pastor, Cai Zhuohua, was sentenced to three years for printing Bibles. Zhou Heng, a house church pastor in Xinjiang, was charged with running an “illegal operation” for receiving dozens of boxes of Bibles. From April to June 2007, China expelled over 100 suspected U.S., South Korean, Canadian, Australian, and other missionaries. Among them were humanitarian workers and language educators who had been teaching English in China for 15 years. During this so-called Typhoon 5 campaign, authorities took aim at missionary activities so as to prevent their recurrence during the Olympics.

On September 30, 2006, Chinese soldiers opened fire on 71 Tibetans who were escaping to Nepal. A 17-year-old nun died and a 20-year-old man was severely injured. Despite numerous international witnesses, the Chinese police insisted that the shooting was in self-defense. One year later, China tightened its control over Tibetan Buddhism. A September 1, 2007, regulation requires all reincarnated lamas to be approved by Chinese authorities, a requirement that flagrantly interferes with the tradition of reincarnation of living Buddhas as practiced in Tibet for thousands of years. In addition, Chinese authorities still ban the Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of Tibet and a world-renowned pacifist, from returning to Tibet.

Since 1999, the government has banned many religious beliefs such as Falungong and the Three Servants. Their followers have experienced extremely cruel and planned persecutions. Many died from abuse, suffered torture, brainwashing, imprisonment and labor camp internment for persisting in their faith, possessing religious books, making DVDs and writing articles to expose the truth of the persecution.

 

China has the highest death penalty rate in the world. Execution statistics are treated as “state secrets.” However, experts estimate that 8,000-10,000 people are sentenced to death in China every year, among them not only criminals and economic convicts, but totally innocent citizens, such as Nie Shubin, Teng Xingshan, Cao Haixin and Hugejiletu, whose innocence was proven only after they were already dead.

Another eight innocent farmers, Chen Guoqing, He Guoqiang, Yang Shiliang, Zhu Yanqiang, Huang Zhixiang, Fang Chunping, Cheng Fagen and Cheng Lihe, who confessed their “crimes” after being cruelly tortured by the police, have been sentenced to death and are currently held in prisons in Hebei [province] and in Jingdezhen [in Jiangxi province].

Torture is very common in China’s detention centers, labor camps and prisons. Torture methods include electric shock, burning, use of electric needles, beating and hanging, sleep deprivation, forced chemical injection causing nerve damage, and piercing the fingers with needles. Every year, there are reported cases of Chinese citizens being disabled or killed by police torture.

Labor camps are still retained as a convenient Chinese system which allows the police to lock up citizens without trial for up to four years. The detention system is another practice that the police favor, freeing them to detain citizens for six months to two years. Dissidents and human rights activists are particularly vulnerable targets and are often sent to labor camps, detention centers or even mental hospitals by authorities who want to simplify legal procedures and mislead the media.
China has the world’s largest secret police system, the Ministry of National Security (guo an) and the Internal Security Bureau (guo bao) of the Ministry of Public Security, which exercise power beyond the law. They can easily tap telephones, follow citizens, place them under house arrest, detain them and impose torture. On June 3, 2004, the Chinese secret police planted drugs on Chongqing dissident Xu Wanping and later sentenced him to 12 years’ imprisonment for “subversion of state power.”

 

Chinese citizens have no right to elect state leaders, local government officials or representatives. In fact, there has never been free exercise of election rights in township-level elections. Wuhan resident Sun Bu’er, a member of the banned political party the Pan-Blue Alliance, was brutally beaten in September 2006 for participating as an independent candidate during an election of county-level people’s congress representatives. Mr. Sun disappeared on March 23, 2007.

China continues to cruelly discriminate against its rural population. According to the Chinese election law, a farmer’s right to vote is worth one quarter of that of an urban resident. In June 2007, the Shanxi kiln scandal was exposed by the media. Thousands of 8- [to-]13[-]year-old trafficked children had been forced to labor in illegal kilns, almost all with local government connections. Many of the children were beaten, tortured and even buried alive.

The Chinese judiciary still illegally forbids any HIV/AIDS lawsuits against government officials responsible for the tragedy. AIDS sufferers and activists have been constantly harassed by the secret police.

The Chinese government has been selling arms and weapons to Darfur and other African regions to support ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. The Chinese authorities have forcibly repatriated North Korean refugees, knowing that they would be sent to labor camps or executed once back home. This significantly contravenes China’s accession to the “Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees” and the “Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees.”

 

· Please be aware that the Olympic Games will be held in a country where there are no elections, no freedom of religion, no independent courts, no independent trade unions; where demonstrations and strikes are prohibited; where torture and discrimination are supported by a sophisticated system of secret police; where the government encourages the violation of human rights and dignity, and is not willing to undertake any of its international obligations.

 

· Please consider whether the Olympic Games should coexist with religious persecution[,] labor camps, modern slavery, identity discrimination, secret police and crimes against humanity.

 

As the Beijing Olympics slogan says, we live in “one world” with “one dream.” We hope that one day the Chinese people will be able to share universal human rights, democracy and peace with people from all around the world. However, we can see that the Chinese government obviously is not yet prepared to honor its promise. As a matter of fact, the preparations for the Olympics have provided the perfect excuse for the Chinese government to restrict civil liberties and suppress human rights!

We do not want China to be contained or isolated from the rest of the world. We believe that only by adhering to the principles of human rights and through open dialogue can the world community pressure the Chinese government to change. Ignoring these realities and tolerating barbaric atrocities in [the] name of the Beijing Olympics will disgrace the Olympic Charter and shake the foundations of humanity. Human rights improvement requires time, but we should at least stop China’s human rights situation from deteriorating. Having the Olympics hosted in a country where human dignity is trampled on will not honor its people or the Olympic Games.

We sincerely hope that the Olympic Games will bring the values of peace, equality, freedom and justice to 1.3 billion Chinese citizens. We pray that the Olympics will be held in a free China. We must push for the 2008 Olympics to live up to the Olympic Charter[,] and we must advocate for the realization of “one world” with “one human rights dream.” We believe that only an Olympic Games true to the Olympic Charter can promote China’s democratic progress, world peace and development.

We firmly hold to the belief that there can be no true Olympic Games without human rights and dignity. For China and for the Olympics, human rights must be upheld!

 

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China: Activists Make Link to “Genocide Games”

October 17, 2007

Because of China’s involvement in Sudan during the “genocide” in Darfur, many in Hollywood have started calling the Beijing 2008 Summer Olympics the “Genocide Games.”  Below is a report on how Reporters San Frontières (Reporters Without Borders) is protesting China’s repression.

October 15, 2007

Activists from Reporters Sans Frontières (Reporters Without Borders) today demonstrated in front of the Olympic Museum in Lausanne, Switzerland, unfurling a giant flag in which the Olympic rings appear in the form of interlocking handcuffs.

The demonstration marked the opening of the 17th Chinese Communist Party Congress in Beijing attended by more than 2,200 delegates, who are expected to give a boost to the leadership of President Hu Jintao whose period in power has been marked by a harder ideological line in the name of a “harmonious society”.
Photo
Two men walk past a sign advertising the Chinese Communist Party’s 17th five-yearly Congress in Beijing. China will strengthen the role of the Communist Party in foreign-invested enterprises as the number of cadres in overseas companies here grows, a leading official said Wednesday,
**********

“We hope through this action to challenge the IOC and its president Jacques Rogge, who refuse to condemn the bad state of human rights in China,” the worldwide press freedom organisation said.

“We have also contacted the IOC’s ethical commission but they replied that they can only be activated by Jacques Rogge himself. This lack of will on the part of Olympic bodies is worrying,” the organisation added.

Games of the XXIX Olympiad

“For the past several weeks an icy wind has blown through freedom of expression in China. This with less than 10 months to go before the opening of the Olympic Games. How can the IOC and its ethical commission remain silent before such a heavy toll of violations of freedom of expression?” it asked.

“More than 30 foreign journalists have been arrested and prevented from working since the start of the year. No fewer than one thousand discussion forums and websites have been closed since July. And a score of dissidents have been imprisoned for expressing themselves freely,” Reporters Without Borders said.

Preparation for the Congress, a key event in the life of China’s sole political party, saw new restrictions slapped on all sectors of the press, Internet-users, bloggers, website managers, foreign journalists and defenders of freedom of expression.

There has been an increase in directives ordering the media to use only reports put out by the official Xinhua news agency. The Publicity (formerly Propaganda) Department has ordered state-run newspapers to step up news linked to the preparation of the Congress and the activities of the leadership.

Recently, five of the major official dailies brought out identical front pages, with the headline: “The 17th Congress of the CCP is set to be hot, hot, hot!” Next to it was the same article about Chinese leaders ordering a mining company to do its utmost to rescue workers trapped in a pit. The same photo of President Hu Jintao on a visit to Kazakhstan also appears on the cover page.

Several dozen online discussion forums, including Ai Zhi Fang Zhou
(www.chain.net.cn/forum

devoted to the patients with Aids, have been closed. The managers have been told that they will only be allowed to reopen once the Congress is over. Several hundred websites and blogs have been closed in the last two months.

On the eve of the Congress, the Party has also spearheaded a campaign for greater morality in the media, which led to a suspension of several reality television programmes. The State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT) on 14 September quoted the fight against pornography as a reason to ban 11 radio programmes about sexuality. “Their content on sexual life and the effectiveness of medication for sexual problems was of an extremely pornographic nature,” the administration said. The SARFT also added that “films that were not suitable for children were also not suitable for adults.”

Former Khmer Rouge leader detained

September 19, 2007

By SOPHENG CHEANG, Associated Press Writer

PAILIN, Cambodia – Police arrested the top surviving Khmer Rouge leader Wednesday, taking Nuon Chea to appear before a U.N-backed genocide tribunal for his role in the 1970s Cambodian regime blamed for the deaths of 1.7 million people.

Police surrounded his home in Pailin in northwestern Cambodia near the Thai border and served him with an arrest warrant on charges of crimes against humanity, police Capt. Sem Sophal said.

Officers later took the 82-year-old Nuon Chea — who denies any wrongdoing — into custody and put him into a car and then a helicopter headed for the capital, Phnom Penh…..

Read the rest at:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070919/ap_on_re_
as/cambodia_khmer_rouge;_ylt=
Aq4BEu0k63zAV1Lm7CXTd5.s0NUE

China, Surveillance of Chinese People, & U.S. Investors

September 19, 2007

By Harold Meyerson
The Washington Post
Wednesday, September 19, 2007; Page A23

The American economy may be teetering on the brink of a recession, but there’s an industry our hedge fund gurus believe has an almost limitless future: the Chinese police state.

In a stunning report in the New York Times last week, correspondent Keith Bradsher documented the rise of China’s electronic surveillance industry, whose leading companies have incorporated themselves in the United States and obtained the lion’s share of their capital from U.S. hedge funds. Though ostensibly private, these companies are a for-profit adjunct of the Chinese government.

Read the rest at:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/09/18/AR2007091801571.html?hpid=opinionsbox1

House ties Vietnam aid to human rights

September 18, 2007

By JIM ABRAMS, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON – Future increases in U.S. nonhumanitarian aid to Vietnam would be tied to improvements in the Hanoi government’s human rights record under legislation approved by the House Tuesday.

Supporters of the legislation, passed 414-3, said it was in response to Vietnam’s recent crackdown on citizens speaking out for political, religious and human rights.

“Sadly, in recent months, the human rights situation in Vietnam has deteriorated and become substantially worse and a new ugly wave of brutal oppression has been launched by Hanoi,” said Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., sponsor of the legislation.

Chris Smith
Chris Smith (US politician)

Read the rest at:

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070918/ap_on_go_ca_st_pe/
congress_vietnam_2

Related essays:

June 22, 2007
“Of two minds on Vietnam”
The Washington Times
http://washingtontimes.com/article/20070622/
COMMENTARY/106220020/1012/commentary

June 26, 2007
“Vietnam: Two sides to Triet’s US visit”
Asia Times
http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Southeast_Asia/
IF27Ae01.html

Nguyễn Minh Triết
Nguyễn Minh Triết
Nguyễn Minh Triết and First Lady Trần Thị Kim Chi meet with George W. Bush and Laura Bush at the President’s Palace, November 2006.

Text of announcement from Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) and a message in Vietnamese from Dr. Thang D. Nguyen, Director, Boat People SOS.

http://vietamreview.blogharbor.com/blog/_
archives/2007/9/18/3239198.html

China: Countdown To Olympics 2008 Has “Truth Harbingers Exposing Evil”

August 8, 2007

By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom
August 8, 2007

Today marks one year from the official start of the Beijing Summer Olympics 2008.  But “Truth harbingers of evil inside China darken the day.” 

Today China started the 365 day countdown with a grand event in Tiananmen Square.

International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge marked the start of the one-year countdown with a lavish Chinese-style ceremony that stared on the 8th day, of the 8th month at 8 PM and 8 minutes 8 seconds.

Eight is a lucky number in China.

But to the Chinese, Tiananmen Square has not always been lucky — especially for those seeking democratic and human rights reforms.

Chinese tanks mowed down pro-democracy demonstrators 18 years ago right where tonight’s Olympic ceremonies commenced.

“Not lucky place” a Chinese friend said to me as we watched events unfold.

There may have been other “unlucky” omens for China today.

A thick layer of brown smog has engulfed Beijing for weeks. The smog is so severe that some of the Olympic athletic trainers have voiced concern. Perhaps China scheduled tonight’s ceremony in the evening to avoid showing the smothering air pollution to western TV viewers. 

Some in attendance at the ceremony wore face masks to protect against the pollution.

Another bad omen, the first among the most dreaded things China’s leaders fear: protesters appeared.

Chinese authorities arrested six protesters descending part of the Great Wall with a 450-square-foot banner reading, “One World, One Dream, Free Tibet 2008.”

There are more Chinese people in Tibet than Tibetans. China invaded Tibet and relocated the nomad herders to cities where they have no jobs.

In the west, contrary voices could be heard.

In the United States Terence Jeffrey wrote, “The first Gold Medal of these games should be awarded to the Chinese Politburo for its Olympian achievements in religious persecution.”

In the UK The Telegraph ran a story under the headline “China Threatens ‘Nuclear Option’ of Dollar Sales.” The story said China had threatened to melt down the U.S. economy if pressure from the US Congress continues.

American lawmakers have said they would issue sanction upon China unless China makes currency adjustments.

The Washington (D.C.) Times ran a lead commentary essay outlining Chinese deceit during the poisoned food scandal.

Also in America, Democratic Presidential hopefuls started what has often been called “China bashing” at a political debate last night.

Front-runner Senator Hillary Clinton warned the United States must deal with China’s “currency manipulation.”

Mrs. Clinton also said, “I don’t want to eat bad food from China or have my children having toys that are going to get them sick.”

Senator Barack Obama, who runs second to Clinton in national polls, branded China a “competitor.”

Mr. Obama said, “We’ve got to have a president in the White House who’s negotiating to make sure that we are looking after American workers … it means that, if they’re manipulating their currency, that we take them to the mat on this issue.”

Despite China’s grand Olympic kick off in Tiananmen Square, there were several indications that this will be an interesting year of controversy for China.

A Chinese dissident living in exile told Peace and Freedom, “China cannot avoid the fact that there are truth harbingers exposing evil” about China emanating from the west.

Related:

China: You Won’t Get The Truth

What Does Beijing’s Central Government Consider a “Threat”?

China Plans Happy Olympics But A Few “Small” Problems Remain

Human rights questions remain for China

China Planning a Surreal Facade for Summer Olympic Games: Beijing 2008

China Awarded First Olympic Gold Medal (In Human Rights Abuse)