China: Forced Mass Workplace Exercise – Move back to the Cultural Revolution


Radio Free Asia, 2010-08-12 -

HONG KONG— Labor officials in the Chinese capital are launching a campaign this week to promote collective workplace exercise sessions in tandem with Beijing’s state-run radio station, which will broadcast the music for the program, officials said.

An employee who answered the phone at the Beijing Model Workers’ Association confirmed the move. “Yes, that’s correct,” the employee said.

But he declined to speculate on the motivation behind it. “I’m not sure why they decided this,” he said.

Calls to the Beijing General Workers’ Union went unanswered during office hours Monday.

But a directive issued by the union and reported in local media said that the union wants 60 percent of the city’s workforce, and 100 percent of the workers in state-owned industrial plants, to be taking part in collective exercise programs by the end of next year.

Targets for civil servants had been set at 70 percent of the workforce, and would be added to assessment criteria for leadership performance in government departments.

“Starting from Aug. 9, all workers of state-owned enterprises and at least 70 percent of employees of government offices and public institutions are now required to complete physical exercises at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. with exercise music from Beijing Radio Station on 102.5 FM,” the People’s Daily Online reported.

The move was part of the “Healthy Beijinger—National 10-Year Plan” campaign, which mandates the promotion of physical exercises and requires every employee in the capital to do 20-minute exercises at least once a day, the paper said.

Motivation questioned

Critics have already lashed out at the plan as a backward step for a China they see moving away from regimented, socialist patterns, and questioned the political motivation for the move.

“This is all connected to the singing of revolutionary anthems and the campaign against vulgarity,” wrote a user identified as Kevin Wu in an online forum. “It totally shows that history is moving backwards.”

Beijing-based artist Yang Licai said he expects China to move back towards the political campaigns of the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976).

“I have been hurriedly reading up on Cultural Revolution history, because I think that we’re about to arrive back in that era,” Yang said in an interview. “The Cultural Revolution is the reference point for all these movements.”

“I need to study in order to learn how to survive in that sort of time,” he said.

Collective morning exercises have been a feature of China under communist rule since 1951, with new initiatives being promoted by the government every five to 10 years, up to the present day.

The new exercise broadcast will be the eighth edition of the morning music broadcast, which was briefly resumed in celebration of Beijing’s hosting of the 2008 Olympic Games.

Amid a recent growth in the popularity of revolutionary songs from the Mao era, and a campaign against “low, vulgar, and pandering” elements in society and culture, netizens are now commenting on whether China is in the middle of a return to its Maoist roots.

“There have only been three countries in the world that go in for this sort of thing,” wrote user Pu Fei on the microblogging service Twitter. “One was the former East Germany, another was North Korea, and the third was China.”

“This sort of collective mass exercise by the whole population to a radio broadcast is characteristic of authoritarian regimes. Our government’s thinking is typical of an authoritarian regime,” Pu wrote.

- The Radio Free Asia

Thousands of Workers on Strike for Over Seven Days in North China for Being Laid Off


By Gu Qinger, Epoch Times Staff Apr 9, 2009 -

For seven consecutive days, workers at the Yimian Group in Baoding, Hebei Province, have staged a large-scale strike. In order to prevent the new buyer of the company from moving out the equipment, several thousand workers surrounded the factory, and stood on watch day and night. According to workers on the scene, the strike was still going on as of April 3. Some workers have gone to Beijing to appeal for readdress of the injustice. Although the local  authorities sent an investigational group to the factory,  that didn’t remedy any of the issues.

Yimian Group is an old enterprise with a 50-year history. In 2003, the company had 9,021 employees. In 2004, in a re-organization,  all of its shares were sold to the Zhongce Group in Hong Kong. Subsequently, Zhongce Group established a specialized company called Asian Textile Enterprise. After this re-organization, a large number of workers were laid off, with only four thousand  being retained.

The reason  for this large-scale strike was because several thousand workers learned at the end of last month that the company has been secretly sold, but no workers had been told anything about it. Only about one hundred of the nearly four thousand workers will be retained to work at a new factory in Baoding county. The rest will all be laid off. Since last Friday, almost ten thousand workers, including those already retired from Yimian Group, spontaneously went to the factory to watch over the equipment.

The workers disclosed many illegal transactions before and after the reorganizations, including  severe loss of state-owned assets. They explained that after the reorganization five years ago, the promised $50 million investment in three years after the buy-off  was never made. For five years, the payment for employee compensation was delayed, and the retirement insurance also has not been  paid.

Workers stated that the factory originally had $700 million in assets, but now has nothing. The factory has been sold, and the money has disappeared. Now the new buyer and city government cannot or will not answer questions raised by the workers about these transactions.

One worker, Mr. Liu, told this reporter, “This strike has been going on for seven days. The bosses of the factory terminated the contracts with workers for no reason, and halted the production. The factory has been sold. Those  bosses swallowed up all the money, and now the workers have no way to make a living.”

Another worker said, “We are protecting the factory. The leaders planned to sell all the equipment, but the workers protected the factory. Everyone from eighty-year old retirees to young workers and old leaders all came out to ask for justice. Now is the peak time of the strike. Workers are especially angry.”

“Every day there are three to four thousand workers taking turns protecting the equipment, and preventing the buyers from moving the equipment,” he said.

Mr. Liu said, “The city government sent an investigation group to investigate and maintain  order. However, their true responsibility was to monitor the situation. There are many  plainclothes as well as uniformed police outside—nearly 200 to 300 people. We dare not to go in and out freely because we are afraid of being arrested. Now Baoding is blocking the  news of the strike, not publicizing anything.”

When an Epoch Times reporter called the city government of Baoding to inquire about the strike, a staff person there dismissed the call, saying that he is not aware of this matter and that any interview should be directed to the Propaganda Department.”

- The Epochtimes:  Thousands on Strike for Over Seven Days in Baoding, Hebei Province

Boycott Beijing Olympics, China Expert Says


FRONT ROYAL, Va., July 16, 2008 /PRNewswire-USNewswire via COMTEX/ –

Steven W. Mosher, well-known China expert, calls for a boycott of the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China, saying that the games will only serve to legitimize a one-party dictatorship that has a deplorable human rights record.

“The Olympics is intended to be a celebration of the human spirit,” says Mosher. “But the spirit of the Chinese people, not to mention the spirit of the Tibetans and other minorities, is being crushed under the weight of an oppressive regime. We should no more celebrate the Olympics in China in 2008, than we should have celebrated the Olympics in Nazi-controlled Berlin in 1936.”

Mosher reminds the world that China’s rights record has not improved in recent years; rather, it has actually gotten worse. “China is one of the worst violators of human rights in the world,” he explains. “Giving the Chinese Communist Party bragging rights over the games makes a mockery of their meaning.”

Mosher has formed the “Beijing Boycott Coalition” to oppose the Beijing Olympics. The coalition invites activists and groups of different backgrounds to join in protesting ongoing human rights violations in China by refusing to watch the games or patronize its sponsors.

All individuals and groups concerned about human rights, whether their issue is the suppression of journalism, the persecution of religious groups, or forced abortion, are welcome to join the coalition. The Beijing Boycott Coalition reaches across ideological boundaries to include all those who care deeply about human rights and the Chinese people, and want to send a message to the Beijing regime.

For more information about the coalition, or to sign up for its e-mails, visit www.beijingboycottcoalition.com.

- Report Via Market Watch

Vancouver Human Rights Torch Relay Highlights China’s Abuses


By Joan Delaney, Epoch Times Canada Staff, May 27, 2008-

VANCOUVER— Bringing with it the message that the “Olympics and Crimes Against Humanity Cannot Co-exist in China,” the Human Rights Torch Relay (HRTR) arrived in Vancouver on Sunday.

Elected officials, democracy and human rights activists, NGOs and local musicians were joined by about 200 supporters at the Vancouver Art Gallery to welcome the torch.

(photo above: Taking part in the Torch Walk are (L-R) human rights lawyer David Matas, human rights activist and former Miss World Nazanin Afshin-Jam, founder of Canadian Students for Darfur Clement Abas Apaak, the HRTR Goddess of Freedom, chair of the Coalition to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong Clive Ansley and Green Party federal candidate Jim Stephenson./ The Epoch Times)

Initiated by the Coalition to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong (CIPFG), HRTR is a global grassroots campaign calling for an end to human rights atrocities in China before the Beijing Olympics in August.

Many supporters held signs and banners calling on the Chinese regime to stop abuses against such groups as Tibetans, Uyghurs, Christians, Falun Gong practitioners, journalists, lawyers, democracy advocates, and others.

Several speakers addressed the crowd, but first a minute of silence was observed and a statement read to commemorate the victims of the cyclone disaster in Burma and the recent earthquake in Sichuan, China.

The human rights torch was presented by the Goddess of Freedom to MP Bill Siksay, the Vancouver ambassador for the torch, who spoke about trade with China. He stressed that Canadians “must not allow our economic interest or concerns for trade opportunities to trump our concerns about human rights.”

While occasions like the Olympics are important, said Siksay, “we must ensure our participation is measured and not exploited to goals contrary to our values and the values of such occasions.”

Host Clement Abas Apaak, founder of Canadian Students for Darfur and a member of the Simon Fraser University board of governors, said a lot of Chinese citizens “are not given the basic rights that should be accorded every human being.”

“The Chinese regime has made it a point to suppress and indeed persecute its own citizens and we just feel that this is simply not acceptable. Ultimately we want to bring about an inclusive and tolerant China where everyone can live with freedom, without fear of persecution or death, and explore its God-given potential.”

Apaak also condemned the regime for supplying arms to Zimbabwe dictator Robert Mugabe and for supporting and funding “the Sudan government’s genocide against its own people in Darfur.”

Human rights lawyer David Matas said that although Chinese officials promised to improve human rights if given the Olympics, in fact the opposite has happened.

“The human rights situation in China has deteriorated since the awarding of the Olympic Games—in part because of the awarding of the Olympic Games. The Olympic Games have created a new venue for Chinese discrimination against its chosen victims which would not have existed had the Olympic Games not been awarded to China.”

Matas and former MP David Kilgour published reports in 2006 and 2007 providing compelling evidence of the illicit harvesting of the organs of tens of thousands of imprisoned Falun Gong prisoners of conscience since 2001.

Matas said that despite a new organ-harvesting law in China, organ theft continues.

“Killing innocents for their organs is a crime against humanity. That means it is a crime not just against the victims—it is a crime against all of us…. Everyone engaged in the Olympics movement must do their part to end crimes against humanity in China. To fail to do that is to fail to be human.”

CIPFG chair Clive Ansley said that after the 1936 Berlin Olympics, people were appalled when the truth of Hitler’s atrocities finally emerged. Today, he said, “we know that Beijing is systematically murdering thousands, probably scores of thousands of human beings in order to harvest their organs for profit.”

“We’ve awarded the Olympics to the most chillingly brutal perpetrator of crimes against humanity on the planet. And history is not going to allow our generation to once more fall back on the excuse—if only we had known.”

Ansley also criticized the “derelict media” for under-reporting the persecution of Falun Gong, now in its ninth year.

“Over the last nine years the most barbaric atrocity in modern history has been going on systematically in China and it has provoked an absolutely thunderous silence on the part of our media and most of our North American politicians.”

Human rights activist and recording artist Nazanin Afshin-Jam outlined what it might be like for Canadians if they lived under such a regime as that in Beijing:

“Imagine one day you’re in your yoga class and a bunch of police officers come and arrest and torture you on the grounds that you are practicing a cult. Or imagine you criticize the Harper government and the next thing you know you’re detained and sent to a labour camp. Or yet imagine being told that in two weeks your home is going to be bulldozed to make room for the 2010 Olympics coming up here in Vancouver.

“These kinds of things are happening in China right now.”

Jim Stephenson, federal candidate for the Green Party, said that following the selection of Beijing as host of the 2008 Olympics, Amnesty International identified six practical and realistic steps that China should take in order to “bring government practice closer in line with international human rights standards and the ideals of the Olympic Charter.”

In its five “Olympics Countdown” reports reviewing China’s human rights situation issued since then, Amnesty concluded that China has made virtually no progress, said Stephenson.

“In fact, additional violations have occurred as a result of Olympics-related activities including assembling land for Olympics venues, enforcing Olympics security, and managing Olympics publicity.

“China has built dramatic new Olympic venues. China has supported and coached a new generation of elite athletes. China has organized an ambitious international torch relay. China has even taken radical measures to reduce its chronic pollution problems during the Olympic Games. But China has not honoured its commitment to respect and protect the human rights of its citizens.”

The rally included a public “torch walk” to the Chinese consulate through Chinatown and back to the art gallery. The afternoon continued with live music from local bands interspersed with speeches by representatives of Burma, Tibet, Darfur and Falun Gong.

HRTR began in Athens last August and has since traveled to over 30 countries on four continents. Vancouver was its last stop in North America.

- Original report from The Epochtimes: Vancouver Human Rights Torch Relay Highlights Chinese Regime’s Abuses

S. Korea Vows ‘legal and diplomatic measures’ Over Chinese Student’s Violence in Olympic Torch Relay


AFP, Apr. 29, 2008-Chinese student (red cap) kicks a South Korean

SEOUL (AFP) — South Korea Tuesday vowed “legal and diplomatic measures” in response to violent protests by Chinese students at the Olympic torch relay here which have stirred anger and criticism of Beijing.

Prime Minister Han Seung-Soo said images of Chinese youths attacking Korean demonstrators had damaged national pride.

“Legal and diplomatic measures are necessary as the incident hurt national pride considerably,” Yonhap news agency quoted Han as telling a cabinet meeting. He did not elaborate.

Anger is growing over Sunday’s violence, recorded on widely circulated video clips, in which Chinese students attacked Koreans staging protests against Beijing’s rights record.

(photo: A Chinese student (red cap) kicks a South Korean who was protesting against the Beijing Olympics/ by AFP)

“It is very regrettable that foreigners staged illegal violent protests at a time when self-restraint against violent protests is taking root under a new government,” Justice Minister Kim Kyung-Han told the cabinet.

“The justice ministry will sternly deal with those responsible, regardless of their nationality.”

Kim said authorities were analysing video clips from the scene.

“We will go after all those responsible and bring them to account… a meeting of relevant agencies will take place at the Seoul district prosecutor’s office.”

China on Tuesday defended the right of Chinese students in South Korea to protect the Olympic torch, amid a brewing diplomatic row after protesters clashed during the flame’s journey in Seoul.

“Some Chinese students came out to safeguard the dignity of the torch. I believe that’s natural. Perhaps there were some radical actions,” foreign ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said in Beijing when asked to comment on the clashes.

National Police Agency chief Eo Cheong-Soo said the Chinese embassy had said about 1,000 Chinese students were expected to welcome the torch but 6,500 showed up.

“The Chinese side had worried about attempts to disturb the torch relay but as it turned out, disorderly, impetuous acts were committed by some Chinese students,” Eo told journalists.

The government Monday expressed “strong regret” to China’s ambassador at the students’ behaviour.

Newspaper editorials and Internet users slammed the youths and the largest-selling daily questioned whether Beijing is fit to host the Olympics.

“It marked the first time that Chinese have run amok in the capital of a foreign country,” Chosun Ilbo said.

“We cannot but doubt whether China has the common sense and standards to host the Olympic Games,” the paper said, criticising the government and police for failing to stop the violence.

Clashes erupted when some 300 protesters, including North Koreans, demonstrated against China’s forced repatriation of North Korean refugees and its crackdown on Tibetans.

Thousands of Chinese demonstrators, mostly college students, had also gathered for the start of the relay in Olympic Park.

In one clash between the two groups, some Chinese threw water bottles, stones, chunks of wood and drink cans at their adversaries.

In another incident Chinese students surrounded and beat up a small group of protesters, according to witnesses. They said a local newspaper photographer suffered a head injury from a stone thrown by the students.

In another encounter, recorded on video, hundreds of agitated Chinese chased a few protesters into a hotel lobby next to City Hall and attacked them.

Two American students wearing T-shirts reading “Free Tibet” were mobbed by before being rescued by police, Chosun and other newspapers said.

The liberal Hankyoreh daily said editorially that the conduct of the protesters had brought disgrace on their country. “It aroused concern that Chinese nationalism is becoming excessive and violent,” the paper said.

JoongAng Ilbo said Chinese had not reacted this way in other countries which had seen torch protests. “As such, it appears that they look down on this country,” it said.

“Such incidents will occur again if they keep adhering to a distorted patriotism.”

The incidents are the latest to overshadow the torch relay, which was hit by protests in London, Paris and San Francisco prompting heavy security at other legs.

- Original report from AFP: SKorea vows ‘diplomatic measures’ over Chinese torch violence

Japan: Buddhist Temple Refuses To Host China Olympic Torch, Event Starting Venue Forced To Change


AFP, Apr. 18, 2008-Zenkoji Temple, Japan

TOKYO (AFP) — Monks at an ancient Japanese Buddhist temple on Friday pulled out of hosting a ceremony for the protest-marred Olympic torch relay because of China’s crackdown in Tibet.

Organisers of the Japanese leg of the global tour have been forced to change the starting point after Zenkoji Temple said it would no longer welcome the torch, which has been dogged by protests since it was lit in Greece last month.

(Photo: Zenkoji Temple, Japan/ AFP)

“Tibetan religious leaders stood up but (China) is cracking down on them,” Shinsho Wakaomi, a senior official at the temple, told a press conference in the city of Nagano, host of the 1998 Winter Olympics.

Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda said the temple’s decision was “unfortunate because it is something for everyone to enjoy.

“I want the (relay) organisers to make sure there will be few problems,” he added.

The temple, which rang bells for the opening ceremonies for the 1998 Nagano Games as well as for the 1964 Tokyo Summer Olympics, had “fondly accepted” an invitation last year to host the ceremony on April 26, another temple official told AFP.

“But the situation has changed,” the official said. “Monks here are very concerned” about what happened in Tibet.

Zenkoji, which was built in the seventh century and draws six million visitors every year, said it had received many phone calls urging it not to host the ceremony.

Local government official Kunihiko Shinohara said he was “shocked” by the temple’s move.

But he added: “We respect the decision by Zenkoji and will change the starting venue.”

Japan, which has said it opposes letting China send guards to protect the Olympic flame when it arrives, has already cancelled a public celebration linked to the relay due to security concerns.

The government indicated that it would not get involved in the relay route, saying it was an issue for the Nagano authorities and the International Olympic Committee.

“It is not a matter in which the government would intervene,” top government spokesman Nobutaka Machimura told reporters.

The torch, whose journey before the Beijing Games in August has turned into a public relations headache for China’s leaders, arrived in Thailand on Friday from India, where many protesters were arrested.

A crackdown on demonstrations in Tibet has put the spotlight on China’s heavily criticised record on human rights and triggered demonstrations at many of the torch’s stops, notably London and Paris.

The three corporate sponsors of the Japanese leg — the local arms of Coca-Cola, Lenovo and Samsung — said Friday they would not send advertising vehicles to accompany the relay although they denied any link to Tibet.

Coca-Cola had intended to send a sales promotion car with its red corporate logo but has now abandoned the plan, a company spokesman said.

“We were told that the motorcade will be very long due to security reasons, which will reduce the effectiveness of our promotion activity,” he said, adding that the decision was “nothing to do” with Tibet.

Lenovo said its decision not to mobilise a promotion vehicle was made in March “due to budgetary reasons.”

Tibetan exiles in India say more than 150 Tibetans have been killed in China’s crackdown on the protests against its rule of the Himalayan region. Beijing says Tibetan “rioters” have killed 20 people.

The temple’s decision to refuse the Olympic flame came during a visit to Japan by Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi, who on Thursday rebuffed Japanese pressure over Tibet, reiterating that Beijing sees it as an internal matter.

- Original report from AFP: Japanese temple refuses to host Olympic torch

China: Former Reporter Joins The Wave of Quitting the Communist With 35 Million Chinese


By Xin Fei, Epoch Times Staff, Apr 12, 2008-Li Yuanlong

According to data published on The Epoch Times’ Tuidang (Withdraw from the Party) Web site, since early 2005, more than 35 million people have quit the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), the Communist Youth League (CYL), and the Communist Young Pioneers (CYP). Chinese people from all walks of life, from common citizens to high-ranking officials, have announced their “three withdrawals” in place at the provincial, municipal, and county or township level nationwide.

On April 10, Li Yuanlong, a former reporter of the Bijie Daily in Guizhou Province, used his real name to quit the CYL on the Tuidang Website.

(photo at right: Mr. Li Yuanlong/ the Epochtimes)

In an interview with The Epoch Times, he said that he denounced his membership from the CYL to seek freedom of conscience. He pointed out that the grand tide of resigning from the CCP has a noticeable influence on the minds and souls of the Chinese people who have declared the three withdrawals, in a sense of spiritual awakening and uplifting human nature. Meanwhile, the campaign has inspired more Chinese people to reflect inward and examine the facts.

Li’s withdrawal statement went as follows: “I am Li Yuanlong, male, Han nationality, born in Guizhou’s Bijie City in 1960. On August 27, 1980, I reluctantly joined the Communist Youth League. Since then, I’ve accrued a moral debt, living with a guilty conscience. As of this moment, I formally declare my resignation of the CYL.”

According to Li, many Party members in Bijie were ashamed to admit their Party membership, considering it a lack of self-respect to have joined the CCP in the first place.

“There’s nothing honorable! They are ashamed to confess it. Anyone with a little conscience left knows that it is a shame to join the Party, feeling too embarrassed to talk about it openly,” he said.

Withdrawal from the CCP and its affiliated organizations has displayed for many Chinese their nonviolent resistance and their determination not to be considered part of the CCP with all its wrongdoing. Above all, it shows their genuine insistence on truth and the firm belief in justice. On the other hand, as resignations of the CCP are being promoted inside and outside China, more and more Chinese people have awoken. This awakening has lead to a shrinking target population for the CCP.

Li continued, “The increasing number of resignations reveals that the CCP has been losing its supporters and is treated with contempt. When these resignations come from Party officials it strikes the CCP a more severe blow and has a greater awakening effect on people.”

As for the Nine Commentaries on the Communist Party , Li said, “This Epoch Times editorial series directly, systematically, intensively expose the CCP’s evil nature and criminal behaviors and offer a deep historical insight. The content of the editorials was based on fact, dismantling the façade the CCP has built up for years to deceiving the public with propaganda.”

In recent years, the CCP has not only blocked media promoting the three withdrawals but also secretly intimidated any participants. In addition, the CCP has desperately demanded its Party members review its pledge of allegiance. Elderly have been persuaded to join the Party. Elementary school students, regardless of their ages, have been requested to join its affiliated organizations. Even whole classrooms are being enlisted as members of the CYL or the CYP. Limitations on joining the CCP, the CYL, and the CYP have been lifted.

Regarding the CCP’s desperate efforts to increase the number of its Party members, Li said matter-of-factly that the CCP has been aware of its crisis, fearing that more people would quit the CCP and its associates. He said, “Some of our staff once asked to quit the CCP. The newspaper administration was panicked by the request, fearing that spread of the news would have a negative influence on their official posts. This is typical of the CCP.”

Li concluded that deceit and threat won’t last very long. He believes that the CCP’s totalitarian regime will be dissolved in the near future.

- Original report from The Epochtimes: Former Reporter Quits the Communist Youth League

European Parliament Urges Leaders to Boycott the Opening Ceremony of China Beijing Olympics


By Darren Ennis, Reuters, Thu Apr 10, 2008-

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Parliament urged European Union leaders on Thursday to boycott the opening ceremony at the Beijing Olympics unless China starts talks with the Dalai Lama over the situation in Tibet.

“The European Parliament calls on the EU presidency … to strive to find a common EU position with regard to attendance at the Olympic Games opening ceremony with the option of non-attendance in the event that there is no resumption of dialogue between the Chinese authorities and His Holiness the Dalai Lama,” the assembly said.

The non-binding resolution, adopted by an overwhelming majority, added to pressure on EU leaders to take a stronger stand over “the brutal repression” of Tibetan protests by China, a major and fast-growing economic partner for Europe.

It also calls on the EU to “appoint a special envoy for Tibetan issues to facilitate dialogue between the two sides” and seeks “the immediate release of all those who protested peacefully”.

“Today’s vote sends an ultimatum to the Chinese authorities that if they wish to have political legitimacy at the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games, then they have until August 8 to open meaningful dialogue with the Dalai Lama,” leader of the Liberals in the assembly told Reuters.

So far EU president Slovenia and senior EU officials have condemned violence in Tibet and called on Beijing to open a dialogue with the exiled spiritual leader on cultural and religious rights but stopped short of any call to boycott the Olympic Games.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s office confirmed on Wednesday he would not attend the opening ceremony and China said he had never been expected to attend. Brown will attend the closing ceremony. Britain will host the 2012 Games.

The directly elected EU legislature has no direct say in European foreign policy, but it is an echo chamber for public opinion and exerts political pressure on member states, the European Commission and EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana.

Parliament President Hans-Gert Poettering, a close ally of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, said last month the EU should examine the possibility of staying away from the Beijing opening ceremony and invited the Dalai Lama to address the house.

“Now that the president has the full mandate of the parliament, he will be having bilateral talks with the presidency and Solana to push the issue and seek a strong common EU position,” a spokesman for Poettering said.

He added that Poettering will also discuss a possible boycott at a meeting of leaders of the European People’s Party — which includes the ruling party’s of Germany and France — in Dublin next week.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy, whose country will hold the EU presidency at the time of the Games in August, has said his decision on whether to attend the ceremony will depend on whether China has resumed a dialogue with the Dalai Lama.

“China promised change when they were awarded the games, but nothing has changed and I think the world’s politicians are waking up to that,” British Conservative MEP and assembly vice-president Edward McMillan-Scott told Reuters television.

“The fact that the parliament has now voted with such a huge majority … a lot more people are coming around to the idea of a political boycott, which I think is an essential weapon against China.” …… (more details from Reuters: EU assembly moots Olympics ceremony boycott)

San Francisco Welcomes Human Rights Torch Relay For China


By Ivan Velinov, Epoch Times San Francisco Staff, Apr 07, 2008-

Olympian John Carlos (holding torch) is famous for making the 'black power' salute while standing on the medal podium at the 1968 Mexico City Games. (Ivailo Anguelov/The Epoch Times)

SAN FRANCISCO—The Global Human Rights Torch, designed to shed light on the human rights injustices in China, was greeted by hundreds of people as it was passing through San Francisco four days ahead of the official Beijing Olympic torch relay.

San Francisco is the only appearance of the Beijing Olympic torch in North America, but China’s poor human rights record sparked escalating protests and controversy at almost every stop of the torch relay en route to Beijing.

Saturday’s protest in San Francisco’s Union Square drew a significant crowd including local politician Supervisor Chris Daly, 1968 Mexico City Olympians John Carlos (bronze medal. See photo above/the Epochtimes) and Lynn Vidali Gautschi (silver medal), renowned Canadian human rights

lawyer David Matas, and representatives of Tibet, Burma, Darfur, Falun Gong, Catholicism, and other concerned groups.

During the event— which featured a live concert, a six-kilometer run, a rally, and a panel discussion—human rights activists urged the world to stage protests of the Beijing Olympics in order to put pressure on China’s officials. China had promised to improve human rights to obtain the honor of hosting the 2008 games. However, in the name of “preparation” for the Olympics, the Chinese government continues to brutally suppress its own people, as well as the people of Tibet, and is aiding the killing in Darfur and Burma, protesters said.

(photo right: Former Chinese National Basketball player Kai Chen carries the Human Rights Torch into San Francisco’s Union Square. / Ivailo Anguelov, The Epoch Times)

“The Human Rights Torch Relay embodies San Francisco values, values of human rights, values of individual liberty, and the responsibility that injustice is exposed,” said Supervisor Daly at the rally.

“Knowing about human rights abuses the Chinese government is notorious about around the world, the people of San Francisco will respond to the Olympic torch with alarm and with protest.”

The Global Human Rights Torch Relay— which is a worldwide campaign running through 150 major cities in 37 countries, across 6 continents— attracted San Francisco tourists, shoppers, and protesters who

Tibetan supporters hope to bring an end to the crackdown on their people. (Ivailo Anguelov/The Epoch Times)

held signs and banners with slogans of: “The Olympics and crimes against humanity cannot coexist in China,” “Free Tibet,” and “Darfur–Bloody Olympics.”

The international event is initiated by the Coalition to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong. Falun Gong is a spiritual practice based on meditation and exercise, banned in China in 1999, whose practitioners have been persecuted and tortured in China.

On Tuesday, a Tibetan Freedom Torch will also pass through San Francisco on its way to Los Angeles to protest the Chinese government’s treatment of Tibetans and the exile of their spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama. Movie star Richard Gere and Archbishop Desmond Tutu are expected to address a candlelight vigil for Tibet outside City Hall in the evening.

(Photo above: Tibetan supporters hope to bring an end to the crackdown on their people. (Ivailo Anguelov/The Epoch Times)

…..( more details from The Epochtimes)

San Jose Mayor Welcomes the Human Rights Torch for China Relay to U.S.


By Dean Tsaggaris, Epoch Times San Francisco Staff, U.S. Mar 30, 2008- San José mayor Chuck Reed welcomes the Human Rights Torch Relay to the United States on Saturday, Mar. 29. (Matthew Kang/The Epoch Times)

SAN JOSÉ—The Human Rights Torch Relay (HRTR) arrived from Argentina to San José, California on Mar. 29, 2008, after passing through 29 countries. This is the first stop of the torch in the U.S., part of an international campaign that seeks to bring an end to all human rights abuses against the people of China.

(photo: San José mayor Chuck Reed welcomes the Human Rights Torch Relay to the United States on Saturday, Mar. 29. / Matthew Kang, The Epoch Times)

The relay is sponsored by the Coalition to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong (CIPFG), an organization which is dedicated to investigating and ending the Chinese communist regime’s eight-year-long persecution of Falun Gong practitioners. The CIPFG’s message for the HRTR is: “The Olympics and crimes against humanity cannot coexist in China”

At 12 noon on Saturday, the torchbearer from Argentina entered the plaza filled with supporters in front of the San José Center for the Performing Arts, passing the torch to a woman dressed in flowing robes, symbolizing a Greek Goddess.

The Goddess then walked slowly toward Chuck Reed, the mayor of San José, igniting his torch and thus officially beginning the events in this city which is known as the “Capital of Silicon Valley.”

Mayor Reed has been a longtime supporter of human rights and spoke strongly against the crimes of the communist regime around the world.

“Today is a special day. We want to remind people, not everybody has freedom. The Chinese people today do not have freedom. They do not have freedom of belief,” said Mayor Reed.

The Mayor, known for his honesty and integrity, has an impressive resume. He graduated number one in his class at the United States Air Force Academy, followed by a Master’s Degree in Public Affairs from Princeton, and a law degree from Stanford. His service during the Vietnam War gave him a real taste of the nature of the communist party.

As he spoke at the HRTR rally, his words were warmly received by the Tibetans, South Vietnamese, and Falun Gong practitioners assembled there.

The Mayor even proclaimed Mar. 29 to be “Human Rights Torch Relay Day in the City of San José.” …… (more details from the Epochtimes)

Beijing Petitioners Welcome the Human Rights Torch Entering China


All-China Alliance for Protecting Human Rights and Opposing Violence, via the Epochtimes, Mar 28, 2008-Beijing Petitioners Welcome the Human Rights Torch

Alongside Hong Kong’s ceremony to welcome the Human Rights Torch and pass it into mainland China, petitioners in Beijing have also begun to take action. Petitioners have been circulating yellow ribbons and the emblem of the Human Rights Torch bearing the slogan, “same world, same rights.”

The Chinese authorities’ fanatical arrests of petitioners and political dissidents has not died down since the last national congress. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has also tightened its control on Beijing since the Human Rights Torch entered mainland China. Currently, the number of troops stationed at Beijing’s seven “petitioners’ villages” is increasing exponentially. The Chinese regime is also sending secret agents into large groups of petitioners in an attempt to capture the organizers.

Beijing’s dissidents are also closely monitored. The internet police are further tightening their clutch. People who are maintaining contacts abroad are also receiving “special attention.” The CCP has cut off many overseas connections to the mainland.

Beijing citizens and petitioners from all over the country have refused to surrender even when faced with the CCP’s brutal totalitarianism. Although monitored by the Beijing police, the petitioners have still managed to circulate thousands of yellow ribbons and flyers regarding the Human Rights Torch throughout China. The news of the Human Rights Torch entering China is becoming increasingly well known!

Foreign reporters and officials in Beijing are becoming increasingly aware of the situation. The reporters are now launching “guerrilla warfare” with the Public Security Bureau by advancing deep into the centralized regions of petitioners to capture breaking news. The Chinese police are working frantically to control these reporters, but such “offenses” keep increasing. As the Olympic Games is drawing near and more voice their protests against tyranny, the authorities are becoming even more hysterical as they gradually lose control of the situation.

The Chinese citizens are placing high bets this time. Since the communists won’t allow the citizens a chance for freedom, the citizens aren’t backing down. Currently the most famous slogan in Beijing is “Screw the Beijing Olympics!” The citizens all spoke angrily, “The Olympics is but a pretense! Since when did the CCP ever treat the citizens right? As if the corrupt government has not exploited us enough, now they want to use the name of the Olympics to destroy us. This time, they will not have their ways.”

- Report from the Epochtimes

Canada Should Consider An Outright Boycott of The China Beijing Olympic Games: Editorial from National Post


Editorial board, The National Post, March 27, 2008-

So far, world leaders have avoided calling for a full-scale boycott of this summer’s Beijing Olympics. But as Beijing’s brutal treatment of Tibetans becomes more overt, and as the regime’s rhetoric becomes more shrill and paranoid, that may change.

China’s violence against Tibetans has spread from Lhasa to neighbouring Chinese provinces with large Tibetan populations. Most cities are under martial law. Roadblocks prevent internal travel, and keep Western journalists from reporting the truth. Police and soldiers are going house-to-house searching for suspects. Over 100 already have died, and at least 700 have been arrested. This week, the Chinese government issued a 53-name “most-wanted” list containing the names of people it claims incited the deadly mid-March antigovernment protests. Included on the list were known dissidents whom Beijing has singled out because of their political views rather than any complicity in the Lhasa uprising.

In view of all this, Canada must find a meaningful way of communicating its disgust with Beijing’s actions. At the very least, Stephen Harper’s government should announce that Canada is boycotting the Games’ Aug. 8 opening ceremonies (an idea that is also being explored by several European countries). We should also announce that no federal officials will attend the Games.

By boycotting the opening ceremony — and urging other nations to do the same — Canada would help diminish the value of the Olympics as a propaganda tool for the Chinese government. Beijing is anxious for the event to be seen as a sort of coming-of-age party — de facto proof that China has been accepted into the community of civilized nations. By boycotting the opening ceremonies, the message would be very different: We are sending our athletes to the Olympics because Beijing, regrettably, is the location the International Olympic Committee (IOC) selected — but we are holding our nose while doing so.

We should be prepared to do more, too. If China’s actions in Tibet (or anywhere else) becoming bloodier –if we begin to witness atrocities on the scale of the 1989 Tiananmen Square killings — then Canada should boycott the Games outright.

Ottawa should now put the Chinese on notice that this is an option we are considering. We also should make plans for following through on the threat if the need arises. Specifically, Canada should attempt to form a coalition of democracies that would pressure the IOC to take the Summer Games away from China if events warrant. The Games wouldn’t have to be canceled: Olympic sports could easily be divvied up among sites in other nations.

There are several stadiums — including London’s 90,000-seat New Wembley — that could host track and field. Germany just hosted soccer’s World Cup less than two years ago, and its pitches could accommodate the Olympic tournament. Basketball could be held at any one of 50 sites in the United States. Montreal recently hosted the world championships of diving, and could easily accommodate the aquatic events. And so on.

We have no illusions about the challenges that principled nations would face in implementing such a plan. Boycotts are often ineffectual. They seldom change the disputed policies of the host country. The 1980 boycott of the Moscow Olympics by Western athletes, for instance, neither convinced the Soviets to withdraw from Afghanistan nor brought about the immediate fall of communism.

“Alternative games” typically fare no better. Who remembers the Liberty Bell Classic organized in 1980 by the 29 countries that refused to send athletes to Moscow, or 1984′s Friendship Games, held by the 50 countries that stayed away from that summer’s Los Angeles Olympics in retaliation for the 1980 boycott? At both alternate competitions, several performances bested those of the gold medal winner at the official Olympics, but no one recalls who won at the second-best games.

The lesson: If a China boycott is to have real impact, the IOC must take away the official Olympics from China outright, and give the sports to other venues. The games that take place in alternate locations must be held under the banner of the “real” Olympics — otherwise, they aren’t worth staging.

Despite China’s newfound wealth and growing international influence, the country’s actions in Tibet show that its leaders are nothing more than old-style communists — paranoid, nationalistic to the point of obsession and brutal to all those who challenge their policies. Yet so far, the IOC has been reluctant even to acknowledge China’s sins — despite the fact that China’s actions contravene explicit promises Beijing made to IOC officials as a condition for being awarded the 2008 Games.

Even if China continues to commit atrocities against its own people, convincing IOC officials to move the Games will not be easy. That is why Ottawa must take a leadership role in building the groundwork– starting now.

- Original report from National Post: The Post editorial board: Harper’s government should consider an outright boycott of the Beijing Games

Polish PM Says No to China Beijing Olympic Opening


BBC News, Thursday, 27 March 2008-

Poland’s Prime Minister Donald Tusk has said he does not intend to go to the opening of the Olympics in August in the wake of China’s crackdown in Tibet.

In comments to the Dziennik newspaper, confirmed by his spokesman, he said Poland was a medium-sized country and was not looking to take the first step.

“But my opinion is very clear: the presence of politicians at the Games’ inauguration seems inappropriate.”

EU foreign ministers will discuss Tibet at a meeting in Slovenia on Friday.

But so far there has been little appetite for a boycott of the Olympic Games.

EU foreign affairs chief Javier Solana said earlier this month that he would attend the opening of the Games and Cyprus and Denmark have called for the event to remain clear of politics.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has not ruled out a boycott of the opening ceremony.

Czech President Vaclav Klaus has announced he will not be going to the opening ceremony although he said his motivation was “not a threat to China”.

- Original report from BBC: Polish PM’s No to Olympic opening

China Farmer Rights Activist Yang Chunlin Sentenced to 5 Years for Against Beijing Olympics


By Fang Xiaocai, Epoch Times Staff, Mar 26, 2008-Yang Chunlin

Olympic human rights activist Yang Chunlin was sentenced to five years imprisonment Tuesday for ‘inciting subversion of state power’ by championing his cause with the slogan, “We don’t want the Olympics, we want human rights.”

(photo: At the trial, Yang was shrouded in black and surrounded by court police. /The Epoch Times)

While being taken from the courtroom, police shocked him with electric batons in front of his family. The 20-minute trial took place in the Jiamusi City Intermediate People’s Court in Heilongjiang Province.

Rejecting that the Chinese authorities’ judicial system is legitimate, Yang refused to sign the court document and insists he will not appeal his sentence.

Yang, a 53-year-old unemployed factory worker, is also is a freelance writer under the pen-name, “Wei Houren.” At the end of 2006, Yang advocated for farmers who lost their farmlands in Fujin City, Heilongjiang. He collected over 10,000 signatures on an open petition letter titled, “We want human rights, not the Olympics.” On July 6, Yang was arrested by the National Security Bureau in Jiamusi. On August 13, he was charged with ‘inciting subversion of state power.’

Yang’s attorney Li Fangping stated that his client received a sentence that was unduly harsh. He said Yang will now have ten days to decide whether to appeal.

Yang’s sister, Yang Chunping, explained that the court hearing, beginning at 3pm on the afternoon of March 24, lasted about 20 minutes in total.

“The court sentenced him to five years imprisonment and two years deprivation of political rights, on charges of ‘inciting subversion of state power’ because he posted articles online attacking the ruling regime,” said Chunping.

“When asked for his opinion of the verdict, [my brother] declared that the Chinese judicial system isn’t legal at all. So what kind of opinion could he have over the sentence? Because his behavior is in complete compliance with the country’s freedom of speech laws, his sentencing was not legal. Therefore, he refused to sign on the written judgment. He also expressed that he would not appeal, a decision he had already determined.”

Police Beat Yang with Electric Batons on Site

After the hearing, Chunping said her brother was quickly taken away from court. His family members wished to say a few words to him, urging him to reconsider an appeal. But court police prevented any contact with his family by shocking Yang with electric batons.

“Our family members only wanted to tell my brother to appeal, but the police didn’t allow him to speak. They used electric batons to shock him several times,” said Chunping. “My brother was hurt so terribly that he covered his abdomen with his hands. Upon witnessing this tragic scene, my family members all cried loudly in protest and officers quickly threw my brother into a police vehicle.”

“Although my brother didn’t sign the sentence in writing after the hearing, the court forced my sister to sign a copy for relatives. We don’t know whether this will have any legal effect.”

With no signature Yang’s sentence was still valid, said Attorney Li Fangping, as the court had an open hearing.

If Yang did choose to appeal, Li said he would still continue to represent him. But said the case is possibly over, as Yang had openly expressed that he would not appeal.

The court was contacted following the hearing, but no one answered the phone.

- Original report from The Epochtimes: Olympic Protester Sentenced to Five Years Imprisonment, Beaten

Czech President Will Not Attend China Beijing Olympics


AFP via Times of India, 27 Mar 2008-

PRAGUE: Czech President Vaclav Klaus said on Wednesday that he would not attend the Olympic Games in Beijing, following criticism that he has not done enough to protest China’s crackdown in Tibet.

But Klaus — who has previously expressed concern over the situation in Tibet — played down the significance of his decision, which he said was extremely unlikely to weigh heavily on the Beijing government.

“I am not sure that the absence of a politician from the Olympic Games opening ceremony will serve as a warning. This applies even more so for a politician from a country that has 130 times fewer inhabitants,” he said.

“Those who decided in the 1990s to award the games to China cannot be surprised today that China is such as it is,” he noted, in a statement published on his personal website.

Klaus was the third Czech politician to announce his decision not to go to Beijing, following in the path of Prague’s Mayor Pavel Bem and the country’s sports and education minister, Ondrej Liska.

- Report from Times of India

Six Leaders Urge IOC To Consider Whether Still Holding The Olympic Games in China


The Guardian, UK, Mar. 20, 2008-

The recent events in Tibet and adjoining provinces are causes for deep concern. Indeed, the dispersal of a peaceful protest march organised by Tibetan monks, which led to a wave of unrest that was brutally suppressed by the Chinese military and police, has caused indignation all over the democratic world.

The reaction of the Chinese authorities to the Tibetan protests evokes echoes of the totalitarian practices that many of us remember from the days before communism in Central and Eastern Europe collapsed in 1989: harsh censorship of the domestic media, blackouts of reporting by foreign media from China, refusal of visas to foreign journalists, and blaming the unrest on the “Dalai Lama’s conspiratorial clique” and other unspecified dark forces supposedly manipulated from abroad. Indeed, the language used by some Chinese government representatives and the official Chinese media is a reminder of the worst of times during the Stalinist and Maoist eras. But the most dangerous development of this unfortunate situation is the current attempt to seal off Tibet from the rest of the world.

Even as we write, it is clear that China’s rulers are trying to reassure the world that peace, quiet, and “harmony” have again prevailed in Tibet. We all know this kind of peace from what has happened in the past in Burma, Cuba, Belarus and a few other countries – it is called the peace of the graveyard.

Merely urging the Chinese government to exercise the “utmost restraint” in dealing with the Tibetan people, as governments around the world are doing, is far too weak a response. The international community, beginning with the United Nations and followed by the European Union, Asean, and other international organisations, as well as individual countries, should use every means possible to step up pressure on the Chinese government to allow foreign media, as well as international fact-finding missions, into Tibet and adjoining provinces in order to enable objective investigations of what has been happening; release all those who only peacefully exercised their internationally guaranteed human rights, and guarantee that no one is subjected to torture and unfair trials; enter into a meaningful dialogue with the representatives of the Tibetan people.

Unless these conditions are fulfilled, the International Olympic Committee should seriously reconsider whether holding this summer’s Olympic games in a country that includes a peaceful graveyard remains a good idea.

Also signed by:

André Glucksmann – French philosopher
Yohei Sasakawa – Japanese philanthropist
El Hassan Bin Talal – president of the Arab Thought Forum and president emeritus of the World Conference of Religions for Peace
Frederik Willem de Klerk – former president of South Africa
Karel Schwarzenberg – foreign minister of the Czech Republic

- Original report from The Guardian: Tibet’s peace of the grave

China State Media Ignores Olympic Torch Ceremony Protest


AFP, Mar. 24, 2008- protest-2

BEIJING (AFP) — Chinese state media on Tuesday ignored the disruption of the Olympic torch-lighting ceremony by anti-China protesters, instead declaring a “perfect start” on the road to the August Beijing Games.

(photo from AFP)

Three men from a media rights group breached tight security around Ancient Olympia in Greece on Monday to unfurl a flag demanding a boycott of the Olympics in a huge embarrassment for both Greece and China.

But state-controlled Chinese newspapers made no mention of the disruption, instead running a slew of stories declaring the ceremony a success.

The China Daily called the ceremony “A perfect start on the road to gold,” and ran stories comparing the reaction by Chinese citizens to the excitement generated when Beijing was awarded the Olympics in 2001.

“Applause and cheers could be heard anywhere a TV was on during the ceremony, and people in shopping malls crowded in front of the counters selling TV sets to watch it,” it said.

Those viewers would not have seen the protest as Chinese state television broadcast the ceremony on a delay, cutting away as the protesters appeared just when China’s top Olympic official was giving a speech……. (more details from AFP: Chinese state media ignores Olympic torch ceremony protest)

Human Rights Demonstrators Mars China Beijing Torch Lighting Ceremony


By Karolos Grohmann, Reuters, Mon Mar 24, 2008-protest-1

ANCIENT OLYMPIA, Greece (Reuters) – Human rights demonstrators breached tight security and tried to hijack the Beijing Olympic torch lighting ceremony and relay in ancient Olympia on Monday.

Just before the torch was lit inside the archaeological site that played host to the Olympics in ancient Greece, three demonstrators managed to break a tight police cordon.

(photo from Reuters)

One of them, carrying a black banner with five interlocked handcuffs in the pattern of the Olympic rings, approached Beijing Games chief Liu Qi during his speech in front of hundreds of officials but was quickly led away by police……. (more details from Reuters)

Boycott China Beijing Olympics, European Parliament President Hans-Gert Poettering Urges


Reuters, via The Guardian, UK, Mar. 18, 2008-

BERLIN, March 18 (Reuters) – European Parliament President Hans-Gert Poettering urged politicians to consider boycotting the Beijing Olympic Games to protest against China’s crackdown on demonstrations in Tibet in which dozens may have died.

Politicians who had planned to attend the opening ceremony of the Games in August should reconsider, Poettering told German radio, adding he was not ruling out a wider boycott.

“It is too early to say how things will end up but one should keep all options open,” Poettering said in an interview on Deutschlandfunk radio on Tuesday.

Poettering, a member of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative Christian Democrats (CDU), attacked China’s response to the monk-led protests in Tibet.

“We cannot agree with what is happening in Tibet. The Chinese must realise that,” said Poettering, adding repression and curbs to freedom of expression must stop if the Olympic Games were to be a success.

“We must send a signal to Beijing,” he said.

Anti-China protests in Lhasa, the biggest in almost two decades, turned ugly on Friday and exiled representatives of Tibet in India have said as many as 80 people died.

China’s premier Wen Jiabao has accused Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, of orchestrating riots, a charge he denies.

The Dalai Lama, who fled to India in 1959, wants autonomy for Tibet within China but not outright independence.

Merkel, along with other western leaders, has called on Beijing to exercise restraint but has refrained from calling for an outright boycott of the Olympic Games. (Writing by Madeline Chambers; Editing by Janet Lawrence)

- Original report from The Guardian : EU’s Poettering urges political boycott of Olympics

China Is Unfit to Host This Summer’s Olympics: Canada Media


Editorial, of The National Post, Canada, Mar. 18, 2008-

When the Olympic bid committee came calling on Beijing in 2001 — before the Chinese capital was awarded the 2008 games — government workers were sent in advance to cover up the damage pollution had done to the city’s parks by spraying thousands of litres of green food colouring on the smog-stained grass. That should have been a warning: Nothing about China hosting the Olympics was going to be as sanguine as it appeared.

Over the weekend, 80 or more Tibetans died protesting China’s six decades of occupation and repression of their country. In scenes reminiscent of the brutal crackdown against pro-democracy protestors in 1989 in Tiananmen Square, Chinese soldiers surged into crowds of unarmed Tibetans, killing scores as they went.

If it was not obvious before that China was unfit to host this summer’s Olympics, then it should be crystal clear now. The communist nation has failed to live up to its key promises to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) that were preconditions to it being awarded the event — namely, that it cease its violent repression of dissent and clean up its water and air. In a perfect world, the IOC would take the games away from Beijing. But since that is an unlikely move for the organization — indeed, it doesn’t even appear as if the IOC will acknowledge that China is in violation of its hosting agreement — then national teams and individual athletes must seriously consider boycotting.

After news of China’s atrocities in Tibet filtered out, IOC president Jacques Rogge told reporters a boycott would be counterproductive. The only people hurt would be “innocent athletes.” Really? It is hard to see how the athletes’ punishment would come close to that suffered by the Tibetans who died seeking more autonomy for their nation, or the others who will surely be arbitrarily arrested and imprisoned by the Chinese government.

Reporters Without Borders calls China “the world’s biggest prison for journalists and cyber-dissidents.” Journalists have been denied access to protest sites, including last weekend’s. Dissidents are kept under close surveillance and forbidden contact with reporters. Members of the spiritual movement Falun Gong are still routinely rounded up and charged with crimes against the state, tortured and executed. Indeed, China executes three times more prisoners annually than the rest of the world combined.

Since the weekend crackdown, the Chinese government has moved to ban YouTube from the nation’s computers. Domestic newspapers, newscasts and internet sites have carried only official government accounts of the protests, while international networks such as CNN and the BBC have been blocked by censors.

The IOC is willing to turn a blind eye to all this, and so too, it seems, is the United Nations. On Monday, the UN Security Council let it be known it would not be meeting to discuss Tibet.

But already, several principled individuals have announced they will boycott the Beijing games. Prince Charles announced in February that he would stay away in sympathy with Tibet. Two weeks ago, Hollywood producer Steven Spielberg resigned his post as special advisor to the hosting committee over China’s support of Sudan’s government, which is perpetrating ethnic cleansing in Darfur. And just last week, Haile Gebrselassie, the world’s best marathoner despite being asthmatic, pulled out because China has done little or nothing to improve its air quality. Mr. Gebrselassie fears the strain of competing in the August heat and a smog haze could ruin his health and career.

At this point, Ottawa need not announce a formal withdrawal by our national teams. But it should let it be known publicly that Canadian athletes are free to exercise their consciences. No athlete should be denied a spot on future teams nor have his or her training funding cut if he or she chooses not to go to Beijing.

In a month or two, if China has done nothing to improve its rights record, then our government can take the next step: pull out, or even suggest to the IOC that it disperse this summer’s events around the world to existing venues that can accommodate them.

In the face of such blatant human rights violations, China’s right to remain as the ’08 Olympic host should not be guaranteed, even at this late date.

- Original report from The National Post

Reporters Without Borders Calls For Boycott of China Beijing Olympics Opening Ceremony


Reporters Without Borders, 18 March 2008-

Reporters Without Borders today urged heads of state, heads of government and members of royal families to boycott the 8 August opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympic Games because of the Chinese government’s mounting human rights violations and the glaring lack of freedom in China.

“China has not kept any of the promises it made in 2001 when it was chosen to host these Olympics,” the press freedom organisation said. “Instead, the government is crushing the Tibetan protests and is imposing a news blackout, while Hu Jia, a tireless human rights campaigner, is facing a possible five-year prison sentence at the end of a summary and unfair trial.

“Politicians throughout the world cannot remain silent about this situation. We call on them to voice their disapproval of China’s policies by announcing their intention not to attend the opening of the Olympic Games. Britain’s Prince Charles has already said he will not go to Beijing on 8 August. Others should follow suit.

“Calling for a complete boycott of the Olympic Games is not a good solution. The aim is not to deprive athletes of the world’s biggest sports event or to deprive the public of the spectacle. But it would be outrageous not to firmly demonstrate one’s disagreement with the Chinese government’s policies and not to show solidarity with the thousands of victims of this authoritarian regime.

“The only improvement in press freedom that had been seen was a relaxation in January 2007 of the rules under which foreign journalists are obliged to operate in China. The news blackout on Tibet and the expulsion of foreign reporters who were in the area have swept away what was the only positive measure.

“All those who think Olympics should go hand in hand with respect for human rights are also urged to insist that the International Olympic Committee take a stand,” Reporters Without Borders added. “The IOC is clearly not a political tool but it is the guarantor of the Olympic spirit and it cannot continue to display such passivity in the face of these flagrant violations of a people’s basic rights. Going further down this road would end up signifying a degree of complicity with the Chinese government.”

Around 100 journalists, Internet users and cyber-dissidents are currently imprisoned in China just for expressing their views peacefully. Journalists have been banned from visiting Tibet since 12 March and have been expelled from neighbouring provinces. The crackdown on protests by Tibetans is taking place behind closed doors.

Chinese journalists continue to be subject to the dictates of the Publicity Department (the former Propaganda Department), which imposes censorship on a wide range of subjects. The government and party continue to control news and information and have authoritarian laws to punish violators.

Charges of subversion, disseminating state secrets or spying are often brought against journalists and cyber-dissidents. Self-censorship is the rule in news organisations. Independent Chinese-language media based abroad are blocked, harassed or jammed, preventing the emergence of diversity in news and information.

- Original report from Reporters Without Borders

“The same world, the same human rights” Torch to Reach China At The End of March


The Epoch Times, Mar 17, 2008-

The global “Human Rights Torch Relay” will reach China at the end of March, said a spokesperson of the Coalition to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong (CIPFG), a non-profit organization that initiated the relay.

According to CIPFG, the Human Rights Torch Relay aims to urge Beijing to improve human rights conditions in China. If the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) continues their human rights abuses, the relay will call for global boycott of Beijing Olympic Games.

After passing the torch to nearly 100 countries, CIPFG has lately announced that the torch will reach China at the end of March and it will be passed over many parts of the country. Meanwhile, other countries will continue the relay as well, said CIPFG.

On March 14, the organization first displayed the icon for the Human Rights Torch Relay in China and explained its symbolic meaning. According to CIPFG, the main part of the design uses the icon of global Human Rights Torch Relay with the map of China surrounded by barbed wire, symbolizing that China under the CCP’s control is like a big prison.

The peace pigeon and torch symbolize that the torch is to bring China peace and freedom. The upper part of the design is a half circle consisting of eight Chinese characters meaning “Human Rights Torch Transferring Globally.” The main slogan in the lower part of the design reads “The same world, the same human rights” in an allusion to China’s “one world” slogan.

Participants in China are encouraged to download and pass around the icon by passing out and posting flyers, sending e-mails and short messages, wearing T-shirts or caps with the logo, dispensing literature on human rights issues and hanging yellow ribbons in public areas, etc. The CIPFG advised participants to use the logo flexibly according to the basic principle of the Human Rights Torch Relay to achieve the goal safely and effectively.

The CIPFG expects the activity to build a platform for the people in China who are pursuing justice and human rights, and who are against the CCP’s suppression and corruption. The organization invites all individuals and organizations that agree with the purpose to “Demand Human rights and oppose persecution” to participate in the activity. More information is available at www.CIPFG.org.
- Original report from The Epochtimes

US Officials Should Shun China’s Beijing Olympic Games: Lawmaker


By Susan Cornwell, Reuters, Mar. 6, 2008-

WASHINGTON, March 6 (Reuters) – U.S. officials should shun the 2008 Olympic games to push China to act to stop violence in Darfur, a U.S. lawmaker said on Thursday, and said he would propose legislation to bar federal funds for such trips.

Rep. Frank Wolf of Virginia said unless China changed its policy on the conflict in western Sudan, where some 200,000 people have died, no one in the U.S. government should attend the Beijing games this summer.

“No person in the Bush administration should go to China for the genocide Olympics,” Wolf said at a congressional hearing, using the label for the games popularized by Hollywood actress Mia Farrow and other activists who want Beijing to use its influence with Khartoum to halt bloodshed in Darfur.

“Don’t go,” Wolf implored Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte, who was testifying to a House of Representatives committee on the administration’s request for more money for wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. “Don’t have anyone go.”

President George W. Bush plans to attend the Olympics but has said he will express his concern about “a variety of issues” to Chinese officials.

Critics accuse China of abetting violence in Darfur by using its power as a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council to stall or dilute attempts to deal with the conflict, and by continuing military ties with the Sudan government.

China says it is playing an important role in bringing peace to Darfur and denies it is fueling the conflict between Khartoum-linked militia and rebel groups.

But campaigners such as the Save Darfur coalition say Chinese weapons sales and oil purchases give Beijing enough clout to get Khartoum to halt atrocities.

Wolf, a Republican and crusader for ending bloodshed in Darfur, said that to go “would be like FDR going to the Olympics with Adolf Hitler in that stadium in 1936.” That was the year Nazi Germany hosted the games in Berlin, when Franklin Delano Roosevelt was U.S. president and stayed away……. (more details from Reuters: US officials should shun Beijing games – lawmaker)