The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

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China: Hosting Olympics a Catalyst for Human Rights Abuses

IOC and World Leaders Fail to Challenge Great Leap Backward for Rights in China

New York

The hosting of the 2008 Beijing Olympics has set back the clock for the
respect of human rights in the People's Republic of China, Human Rights
Watch said ahead of the Games' closing ceremony in Beijing on Sunday,
August 24. Over the past year Human Rights Watch has monitored and
documented extensive human rights violations directly linked to the
preparation and the hosting of the Games.

"The 2008 Beijing Games have put an end - once and for all - to the
notion that these Olympics are a 'force for good,'" said Sophie
Richardson, Asia advocacy director at Human Rights Watch. "The reality
is that the Chinese government's hosting of the Games has been a
catalyst for abuses, leading to massive forced evictions, a surge in
the arrest, detention, and harassment of critics, repeated violations
of media freedom, and increased political repression."

Jacques Rogge, president of the International Olympic
Committee (IOC), told Reuters in August 2007 that, "We believe the
Games are going to move ahead the agenda of the social and human rights
as far as possible, the Games are going to be a force for good."

Human Rights Watch pointed out that, to the contrary, the
Chinese government has consistently violated its Olympics-related human
rights commitments. In addition, the International Olympic Committee
has failed in its duty to ensure that the government fulfilled those
pledges. The Chinese government's unrelenting campaign during the Games
to squelch legal peaceful protests, limit media freedom, and restrict
the internet access of journalists reinforces the urgent need for the
IOC to establish a permanent mechanism to monitor the human rights
performance and compliance of future Olympic host countries.

"Not a single world leader who attended the Games or
members of the IOC seized the opportunity to challenge the Chinese
government's behavior in any meaningful way," Richardson said. "Will
anyone wonder, after the Games are over, why the Chinese government
remains intransigent about human rights?"

Human Rights Watch is one of the world's leading independent organizations dedicated to defending and protecting human rights. By focusing international attention where human rights are violated, we give voice to the oppressed and hold oppressors accountable for their crimes. Our rigorous, objective investigations and strategic, targeted advocacy build intense pressure for action and raise the cost of human rights abuse. For 30 years, Human Rights Watch has worked tenaciously to lay the legal and moral groundwork for deep-rooted change and has fought to bring greater justice and security to people around the world.