Mar 26, 2008

China: Reminders of Tiananmen Square

Active ImageHuman Rights Without Frontiers calls on world leaders to boycott the opening ceremony as Beijing continues to flaunt its citizens’ rights.

Below is an article published by Human Rights Without Frontiers:

At the moment when the US inexplicably dropped China from its list of worst human rights violators, the country which hosts this summer's Olympics began spilling the blood of unarmed Tibetan Buddhists.

Violent repression started five days after peaceful protests began in memory of the anniversary of a 1959 rebellion against Chinese rule.  Response to violence has produced the worst unrest in Lhasa in two decades.  Whether the victims number 10, 80, 100 or more, China’s resort to violence shows once again that Chinese leaders have not abandoned the methods of the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre as they crush and silence peaceful social protest. 

Failing to address legitimate long-simmering resentment, Beijing prefers to pursue cultural genocide in Tibet, while canting its sclerotic rhetoric representing peaceful demonstrations as riots "organized, premeditated and masterminded by the Dalai Lama clique."   The Chinese-installed head of Tibet's government claims a "plot of separatists" that "will fail."  Three days after the first victims fell in Lhasa, violence spread into neighboring Sichuan, Qinghai and Western Gansu provinces, all home to sizable Tibetan populations.

Just days before monks began protesting in Tibet, Chinese media began accusing Muslim Uyghurs in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) of masterminding a "separatist terrorist" plot to hijack a plane flying from their capital city Urumchi to Beijing.  Beijing's incessant campaign of repression and cultural genocide against Tibetans and Uyghurs reveals uncontrolled anti-separatist paranoia.

On the eve of the Olympics, accumulating consequences of Beijing's incessant human rights failures besiege it, revealing gaping cracks of hypocrisy in its wall of pretended social harmony.

Chinese authorities make promises that they do not keep. 

In 2001 the International Olympic Committee awarded the 2008 Olympic Games to Beijing, because the Beijing bidding committee pledged that hosting of the Games would "help the development of human rights."  The Beijing committee also pledged "there will be no restrictions on media reporting and movement of journalists up to and including the Olympic Games."  On December 18, 2007 a conference at the European Parliament ended with a conclusion by twelve European human rights NGOs, six parliamentarians and four Sakharov Prize laureates that China had not made any substantial progress in its human rights record.  Their declaration: "Human rights in China 2001-2007: No Olympic Medal."

If freedom of expression is promised to foreign journalists before and during the Olympics, Chinese journalists will not enjoy the same "privilege."  They remain under threat of censorship and repression.  Further, the temporary "freedom" granted to foreign media risks to be theoretical, as Beijing is rapidly placing human rights defenders, lawyers, trade-unionists and environmental activists in prison or otherwise making them "inaccessible" for interview by European journalists.

As with minorities, so for ordinary citizens, Beijing's answer to criticism stays the same: brutal repression.

Assault, intimidation, harassment and politicized prosecution of rights defenders intensify, even while China promises June 2008 implementation of protective provisions in the amended "Lawyers Law of the People's Republic of China."  Arrest and imprisonment of Gao Zhisheng, a close friend of the vice-president of the European Parliament Edward McMillan-Scott, and other well-known lawyers undermine the rule of law and intimidate their colleagues.  Li Heping, Christian lawyer based in Beijing and defender of political dissidents, human rights defenders and believers, was barred from representing jailed human rights advocate Qiao Yanbing. Then in autumn 2007, […] his family [was] threatened by unidentified people who afterwards presented themselves as security officers.

Blind human rights lawyer Chen Guangcheng was sentenced to four years and three months in jail for speaking against coercive family planning practices in Shandong Province. In March of this year [2008] his lawyer, Teng Biao, was […] missing for days before being released by police.

Another victim of pre-Olympic repression, environmental activist Hu Jia, was arrested at the end of December [2007], accused of "subverting state authority," an oft-used charge against dissidents.

World-record holding marathoner Haile Gebrselassie has said he might skip the Games because of the high level of pollution in Beijing. Steven Spielberg ended his involvement as an artistic advisor for the opening and closing ceremonies, citing Beijing's support for the genocidal regime in Khartoum.  Prince Charles of Britain declared he would not attend the Games.

Human Rights Without Frontiers International calls upon Heads of State, Prime Ministers, Royal Families, Heads of the European Institutions, Members of the European and national Parliaments to ignore invitations from Beijing to attend the Games and to refuse to sit next to a president and ministers who are responsible for the latest bloodshed in Tibet, the torture of Falun Gong practitioners, the detention of human rights activists, the murderous one-child policy, and the execution of North Korean refugees forcibly repatriated to their country.

No Ethics? No Olympics!