Deutsche Presse Agentur
Beijing- China is failing to live up to promises made when it bid for the 2008 Olympics to improve its human-rights record before the Summer Games, Amnesty International said Thursday. While China has shown some improvement by making legislative and judicial reforms in the application of the death penalty, its human-rights record in other areas has worsened, the human-rights group said as it assessed the overall rights situation in China as poor.
"The serious human-rights abuses that continue to be reported every day across the country fly in the face of the promises the Chinese government made when it was bidding for the Olympics," said Catherine Baber, Amnesty's deputy Asia-Pacific director.
Baber said China had renewed a crackdown on journalists and internet users in the past year, "a fact that makes government commitments to 'complete media freedom' ring hollow."
Human-rights activists have been harassed and jailed, and thousands of people have been executed after unfair trials, Amnesty said in its report released less than two years before the Olympics.
China's Foreign Ministry called the accusations "groundless."
China keeps its promises, ministry spokesman Qin Gang said while accusing Amnesty of having an "ulterior motive."
"Amnesty International has always been prejudiced in its views toward China," Qin said in Beijing. "Its reports have a political ulterior motive."
The release of Amnesty's report came along with news of the arrest of a Chinese journalist and founder of the website Aegean Sea, which was shut down in March, the Committee to Protect Journalists said.
Zhang Jianhong was detained September 6 in Ningbo in Zhejiang province on allegations of "inciting subversion" through his online political essays, the group said, adding that Zhang's arrest was the latest in a "sustained crackdown" on dissident journalists, writers, activists, lawyers and scholars using the internet to call for greater democracy and human rights and protest government abuses.
Last week, another two internet authors critical of the government were also arrested, the committee said.
Amnesty said it had sent its report to the International Olympic Committee.
"The current state of affairs runs counter to the most basic interpretation of the 'Olympic spirit' with the 'preservation of human dignity' at its heart," Baber said.
The rights group called on the Olympic committee to use its influence to speak out to the Chinese government against human-rights abuses and lobby on behalf of those detained, specifically mentioning Ye Guozhu, who was evicted by force from his home to make way for a development for the Olympics. When he sought to organize a demonstration with other evictees, he was sentenced to four years in prison, where he has been tortured, Amnesty charged.