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China is unworthy of Olympic tradition

by Archives November 27, 2007

If you go to google.cn and type in “Falun Gong,” “Tiananmen Square,” or even “free press,” you get this message: “In accordance with local laws, regulations and policies, part of the search result is not shown.”
In 2002 the Chinese government blocked all access to Google. But that only lasted two weeks and ended as mysteriously as it began. The great firewall they set in place slowed down all internet traffic coming from outside the country.
To provide service to the Chinese public, Google chose to set up shop in the People’s Republic of China and is now subject to Internet censorship laws.
The search engine must block the most politically sensitive web sites – religious groups, democracy groups, memorials of the Tiananmen Square massacre and many other terms associated with free knowledge. China is ranked 163rd out of 169 countries rated on the World Press Freedom Index.
In this day and age, this is just not right.
The Chinese authorities promised the International Olympic Committee concrete improvements in human rights in order to host the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, but they changed their tone after getting what they wanted.
Part of tidying up China’s act after winning the bid, police and judicial authorities were given orders to pursue the “Hit Hard” campaign against crime.
Every year several thousand Chinese are executed in public, often in stadiums by means of a bullet to the back of the neck or lethal injection.
They also decided to crack down on followers of Falun Gong and other religious and democratic movements. Many of those held in police custody or in labour camps are held without trial or sentenced to prison terms under criminal law. They are being punished for the peaceful exercise of fundamental human rights.
Then there is Tibet. During the 2008 Olympic bids six years ago, there were many protests against Beijing making the bid due to their current occupation of the region.
There was also a bipartisan coalition in the U.S. House of Representatives that wished to put forward a resolution asking the International Olympic Committee to reject China’s bid for the 2008 Olympics. It never passed.
Advocates of the bid said having the games in Beijing would encourage China to liberalize because of the intense attention the Olympics would bring to the country. Bull.
Despite the absence of any significant progress in free speech and human rights in China, the International Olympic Committee’s members continue to turn a deaf ear to the situation.
Reporters Without Borders outlines a list of things that should be done before China hosts the Olympics such as release all detained journalists, remove restrictive laws towards the media’s freedom of movement and work, demolish the public relations department, end the jamming of radio stations, stop blacklisting human rights activists, end censorship of Google and legalize independent organizations of journalists and human rights activists.
China’s actions towards Falun Gong followers along with their occupation of Tibet, including repression of protest and discrimination against ethnic Tibetans, should have disqualified Beijing’s bid for the 2008 Olympics.
There must be freedom in China before the games are held.

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