China asked to free dissidents before Beijing Olympics
The China Post[Thursday, December 13, 2007 13:47]
By Dimitri Bruyas, The China Post with agencies

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Foreign enterprises providing Internet technologies allowing Chinese police to keep an eye on dissidents are accomplices of Beijing's repression, the head of an international human rights group said yesterday. He asked that Chinese authorities abide by their previous promise and release dissidents before the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.

Robert Menard, secretary general of the Paris-based organization Reporters Without Borders, made the appeal in Taipei, where he was attending the release of a report on the human rights situation in China in 2007.

The report, titled "2007 China Human Rights Report: Observation on Social, Economic, and Educational and Cultural Rights," was compiled by the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy (TFD).

"Although China promised to look into the matter, the dissidents were freed only after they had served their entire terms," he said.

Earlier this month, Menard was unable to obtain a tourist visa to visit Beijing for the annual world's Human Rights Day on Monday, before coming to Taiwan. Reporters Without Borders applied for permission to send representatives to Beijing to protest what it said was China's failure to improve the country's human rights record as promised in 2001, when it won the right to host the Olympics.

"China's enormous economic development has not brought progress to its human rights situation or its freedom of the press," he said.

He explained that even though the Communist Party of China eased the regulations governing the work of foreign journalists in January in prevision of the Olympics, police had been responsible for up to 60 separate incidents of detention or obstruction of the work of foreign correspondents.

"It proves again that China's promises are merely lip service," he said.

Therefore, pressure should be kept on China through the International Olympic Committee to guarantee freedom of expression and respect for the Olympic Charter's humanistic values, Menard said.

Further, based on TFD's annual report released yesterday, there was no progress at all in the social, economic and cultural human rights situation in China in 2007.

"Education rights, political rights and freedom of speech even worsened compared to 2005," an expert said.

TFD is a non-partisan organization dedicated to the promotion of democracy and human rights in Taiwan and abroad.

TFD Vice President Tung Li-wen said it is appalling that both the educational rights and rights of free speech, compared with 2005, have deteriorated in 2007, despite the national guidelines of Chinese President Hu Jin-tao's proposal to build a "harmonious society."

He added that the CPC has severely sacrificed its people's rights while putting every effort into holding the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games and its power transition in the 17th National Congress.

Moreover, the so called "black-hearted" substandard products made in China have become the greatest nightmare for the Chinese people as well as the whole world, Tung said, adding that they are evidence of how social rights are ignored in China and how negligent the government can be with regard to its people's health and lives.

In short, even though a representative of the Beijing Candidate Committee said in 2001 that "by entrusting the organization of the Olympic Games to Beijing, you will help the development of human rights" after Beijing was awarded the 2008 Olympics, no durable improvements have been seen in human rights, while some rights have been subjected to greater suppression.