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Report: China not improving human rights for Games

9/20/2006

BEIJING -- China has failed to live up to promises its
leaders made to improve human rights for the 2008 Olympics, Amnesty
International said in a report urging the International Olympic
Committee to ensure that the Chinese comply.

The report, released Thursday, catalogs a broad range of
persistent human rights abuses, from the widespread use of the
death penalty and the extraction of organs from executed prisoners
for transplants, to the persecution of civil rights activists and
new methods to rein in the media and censor the Internet. The
report also said Beijing is forcing people from homes to make way
for Olympic-related construction projects.

"Serious human rights violations continue to be reported across
the country, fueling instability and discontent," the London-based
group's report said. "Grass-roots human rights activists continue
to be detained and imprisoned, and official controls over the media
and the Internet are growing tighter."

Amnesty International called on the Chinese government to enact
reforms. It also urged the IOC and the Olympics "to put pressure
on Chinese authorities" to release political prisoners, take steps
toward ending the death penalty and repeal restrictions on the free
flow of information.

China's foreign ministry didn't immediately respond to requests
for comment.

The IOC said that with nearly two years to go it was too early
to take China to task and that the Olympic governing body was not a
political pressure group.

"It's premature to say that China has failed to live up to its
pledges to hold a successful Games," IOC spokeswoman Giselle
Davies said. "We don't work by putting pressure. That's not our
methodology."

Though many of the ills cited by the group have been endemic for
years in China, the report underscores an uncomfortable
contradiction: While the world was promised that a Beijing Games
would bolster respect for human rights, the Communist leadership
appears to be digging in its heels.

Over the past three years, Chinese leaders have mounted the most
sustained clampdown on dissent since the quelling of the Tiananmen
Square democracy movement in 1989. Aside from political and
religious dissidents, the government has taken steps to intimidate
new groups, such as activist lawyers and scholars, while
aggressively scouring the Internet for political essayists and
firing and detaining reporters and editors.

The suppression campaign stands in contrast to China's continued
buildup of a vibrant economy and a dynamic society with a
burgeoning middle class -- changes Beijing hopes to showcase at the
Olympics.

In bidding for the games in 2001, Chinese leaders promised IOC
members that the Olympics would lead to an improved climate for
human rights and media freedoms.

"By allowing Beijing to host the games you will help the
development of human rights," Amnesty International quoted Liu
Jingmin, a vice president of the Beijing bid committee and now a
senior official in charge of preparations for the games, as saying
in 2001.

IOC members also have said they expect Beijing to keep its word.

Beijing's effort to build state-of-the-art venues and
transportation facilities and remake run-down neighborhoods has
contributed to civil rights abuses, the Amnesty International
report said. It cited the cases of Ye Guozhu and Qi Zhiyong,
Beijing residents subjected to forced evictions as the city
undergoes an Olympic makeover.

Jailed for trying to organize a protest, Ye has been tortured
while in detention, hung from the ceiling by his arms, beaten with
electric batons and put in handcuffs and leg irons, the report
said. Qi, whose leg was amputated after he was shot by security
forces in the 1989 crackdown, was detained for 51 days this year
for taking part in a different protest, and the business license
for his small shop was revoked, it said.

In May, city authorities suggested that to ensure order in
Beijing they may detain people in prison camps without trial, a
form of punishment for minor crimes known as "reform through
labor," the report said.

Last week, a meeting between city officials and experts
discussed expelling many of the 1 million migrant laborers in
Beijing and forcibly hospitalizing the mentally ill for the games.

Amnesty International said it was concerned detention without
trial would be increasingly used "under the guise of cleaning up
the city for the Olympics."