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"On my part, I remain committed to the process of dialogue. It is my firm belief that dialogue and a willingness to look with honesty and clarity at the reality of Tibet can lead us to a viable solution."

Report: 11-Point Index of Human Rights Violations in China

August 25, 2008

 
 
REPORT
 
 
 
 
 
THE WHOLE WORLD IS WATCHING: INDEX ON HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS IN CHINA – BETRAYAL OF THE OLYMPIC CHARTER AND THE CHINESE PROMISE
 
 
 
 
“The Report’s main thesis is that the Chinese government had 7 years to implement their undertaking that the Olympic Games would advance the cause of Human Rights.
 
Regrettably, on the eve of its opening – as this Report documents – we are witnessing today in China a persistent and pervasive assault on human rights – a betrayal of the Olympic Charter, the Olympic Games and China’s pledge to respect both; and, most important, a betrayal of the rights and hopes of its own citizens – and those of the international community.”
 
 
Professor Irwin Cotler, O.C., M.P.
 
 
 
 
 
Irwin Cotler, M.P., P.C., O.C.
 
Report: 11-Point Index of Human Rights Violations in China
August 7, 2008
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
‘The world will be watching,’ as China hosts the 2008 Olympic Games from August 8-24. The selection of Beijing as host city on July 13, 2001 invited wide-spread attention – and critique – of China’s human rights record. I spoke out at the time against granting the Olympic Games to China given its record as a major violator of human rights.
 
Indeed, in an effort to urge the International Olympic Committee not to award the games to China, I engaged in a number of initiatives including:
·        Sending two letters to the IOC along with an earlier version of this 11-point Index of Human Rights violations
·        Speaking in Parliament and holding a press conference in a final public appeal.
·        Submitting that, if the Games are awarded to China, written assurances must be sought guaranteeing the protection of human rights.
 
Following the announcement that Beijing would indeed play host to the games, some felt that awarding China the Olympic Games would give the nation a chance to improve its human rights record. Indeed, in its 2001 bid for the Olympic Games, the Chinese government promised “total press freedom” and improvements on its abysmal human rights record. I shared these hopes, but recommended a set of benchmarks to monitor Chinese compliance with its international human rights obligations, as well as its own undertakings of compliance. Such benchmarks were never instituted. 
 
Regrettably, on the eve of the opening ceremonies of the 2008 Olympic Games, we have neither seen progress towards press freedom nor acceptance of international human rights standards in China; indeed, if anything, we have seen an escalation of abuses in the run-up to the Olympics including, as Human Rights Watch reported on August 5th, 2008:
  • The silencing of Chinese citizens who express concerns about Olympics-related rights abuses through intimidation, imprisonment, and the use of house arrest. For example, Ye Guozhu, a 53-year-old housing rights activist, remains in prison despite having completed his four-year prison sentence in July 2008. After attempting to organize protests against forced evictions related to the Beijing Olympics, Ye was convicted on December 18, 2004, on charges of “suspicion of disturbing social order.” Ye’s family has said they believe the government will hold him until after the games to prevent him from speaking freely.  
  • Evictions and demolitions for Olympics-related infrastructure. Hundreds of thousands of residents have been evicted and their homes demolished in the course of Beijing’s makeover. Ni Yulan, a 47-year-old lawyer who was disbarred and imprisoned for her work defending the rights of those forcibly evicted in Beijing and crippled by beatings she suffered in prison, is now awaiting trial on charges of “obstructing a public official” (Article 277 of the Criminal Law), which carries a maximum sentence of three years in prison. During the incident in question, Ni was resisting the demolition of her own home when she was hit on the head with a brick and dragged to the ground.  
  • Hundreds of cases of harassment and restriction of foreign media from reporting freely, in violation of China’s Olympic pledge and temporary regulations in effect from January 2007 to October 2008. The Chinese government continues to severely restrict the foreign media’s access to Tibet since violence flared in Lhasa in mid-March. The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which is responsible for the security of all foreign journalists in China, also continues to refuse to investigate death threats made against foreign correspondents in the wake of a state media-driven vilification campaign of “western media bias” following the Lhasa violence.  
  • An intensifying crackdown on “undesirables” and removal from Beijing of migrant workers, beggars, sex workers, and petitioners (residents from the countryside seeking redress for abuses at the grassroots level), among others. Despite its insistence that these would be the “greenest” games in history, in July 2008, the Beijing municipal government ordered tens of thousands of migrant workers who work as garbage recyclers to leave the city ahead of the Olympics.
  • At least 9000 arrests of Tibetans made between March 10th and August 5th, 2008, with some arrested more than once.
  • Round up of Falun Gong practitioners. As reported by Erping Zhang, the Director of the Association for Asian Research “some 8000 Falun Gong practitioners have been rounded up in the run-up to the games, and sent to a place that nobody knows.”
Accordingly, Amnesty International has concluded that “the crackdown on human rights defenders, journalists and lawyers has intensified because Beijing is hosting the Olympics,” and, as the Olympic press center opened, Chinese authorities reinstated the “firewall” and blocked citizen access to Internet-based information.
 
In particular, China’s flouting of international human rights has never been so flagrant as in its complicity in the genocide in Darfur, the first genocide of the 21st century. China is Sudan’s largest trading partner. It buys Sudanese oil; Sudan uses the revenue to buy Chinese arms; and the arms are then used to kill Darfuri. As I have said before – in concert with others – this complicity risks turning the Beijing Olympics into the “Genocide Olympics.” 
 
The Olympic Games seek to – in the words of the Olympic Charter – “create a way of life based on […] respect for universal fundamental ethical principles.” Holding an Olympiad allows a host country to highlight its history and showcase its unique culture; and China has an important history and a great culture, and has made significant strides in the past generation – including universal education and economic reforms – to overcome the atrocities of the past.
 
The Chinese government had seven years to implement their undertaking that the Olympic Games would advance the cause of human rights; yet, on the eve of its opening – as this Report documents – we are seeing a major rollback in human rights.
Previously, Canada had demanded that injustices by host countries cease before participating, and, indeed, Canada was one of the leading powers to boycott the 1980 Olympic Games in Moscow after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Yet, we are once again in a situation where the host of the Olympic Games is a major violator of human rights both against its own citizens and against citizens of foreign countries.
 
As my colleague David Kilgour has affirmed, the “Chinese people want the same things as all of us, including education, to be safe and secure, good jobs in a sound economy, and a healthy natural environment.” For their sake, it is not possible to remain silent in the face of “ongoing bad governance, official violence, growing social inequalities, widespread corruption and nepotism, and [the] terrible injustices still being done across China.”
 
Simply put, what we are witnessing today in China is a persistent and pervasive assault on human rights – a betrayal of the Olympic Charter, the Olympic Games, and China’s pledge to respect both– and, most important, a betrayal of the rights and hopes of its own citizens – and those of the international community.
 
 

 
 
(a)       Overview
 
The arbitrary arrest, detention, torture and imprisonment of Chinese-Canadian Professor Kunlun Zhang – for nothing other than being a member of the Falun Gong and espousing ancient Chinese values of truth, compassion and tolerance – is a case-study of the plight of a Prisoner of Conscience with a ‘Canadian Connection,’ of the criminalization of fundamental freedoms.  See Appendix I for an inventory of major human rights violations by China in this case, and like cases of prisoners of conscience.
 
As someone who acted as Legal Counsel to Professor Kunlun Zhang and other Chinese-Canadian prisoners of conscience in China – and who prepared the inventory of human rights violations by China in these cases as set forth in Appendix I – I can attest to these violations as experienced by these political prisoners.    
 
A more recent example is Huseyin Celil, a Canadian Citizen and native Uighur who championed human rights for his people in China in the 1990s. He was arrested in Uzbekistan in 2006, deported to China to face terrorism charges – a common charge made against Uighur activists who stand up for the rights and autonomy of the beleaguered Uighur people – and was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment in 2007.
A Chinese superior court dismissed an appeal without allowing Celil or his lawyer to speak, nor Canadian embassy officials to be present in the courtroom. Indeed, China has never allowed him access to Canadian consular officials – refusing to recognize his Canadian citizenship – in violation of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations. Huseyin Celil has remained in solitary confinement throughout his detention – deprived of any human contact or sunlight of any kind – and has even pleaded to be transferred to a forced labour camp as an alternative to this cruel and continuing punishment.
Other notable examples of political prisoners include:
  • Yang Chunlin, a land rights activist from Heilongjiang province. Yang was arrested in July 2007 for his involvement in a petition against illegal land seizures by officials and for writing essays denouncing official wrongdoings. Yang, who had collected more than 10,000 signatures for his petition, titled “We want human rights, not the Olympics,” was charged with “inciting subversion of state power.” On March 24, 2008, Yang was sentenced to five years in prison after a trial which lasted less than a day and failed to meet minimum standards of due process.  
  • Hu Jia, a Beijing-based human rights activist who has worked on numerous issues including AIDS advocacy. Hu was one of 42 Chinese intellectuals and activists who co-signed an open letter, “One World, One Dream: Universal Human Rights,” calling for greater attention to human rights in China. On April 3, Hu was found guilty of “inciting subversion of state power,” and sentenced to three and a half years in prison, as well as one additional year of deprivation of political rights. His wife and fellow activist Zeng Jinyan has been under house arrest in Beijing since May 17, 2007, along with their baby daughter, Qianci.  
  • Huang Qi, a veteran dissident and founder of www.64tianwang.com, a website dedicated to publicizing alleged human rights abuses which occur across China. Huang was detained on June 10, 2008 in Chengdu while investigating allegations that shoddy construction had contributed to the collapse of schools in the March 12 Sichuan earthquake. He was formally charged with “possessing state secrets” on July 18.  
  • Teng Biao, one of several Beijing lawyers, including Zhang Jiankang and Jiang Tianyong, who lost their licenses to practice law as an official reprisal for publicly offering to defend Tibetan suspects arrested in the wake of the Lhasa riots in March. Teng Biao first became a target for official punishment due to a letter he co-wrote with Hu Jia in September 2007. The letter was a stinging indictment of the Chinese government’s failure to deliver on its promises to the IOC to develop human rights in China ahead of the 2008 Olympics. “When you come to the Olympic Games in Beijing … you may not know that the flowers, smiles, harmony and prosperity are built on a base of grievances, tears, imprisonment, torture and blood,” they wrote.  
  • Chen Guangcheng, a blind lawyer who in June 2005 filed a class-action lawsuit accusing officials in Linyi, a city in Shandong province, of seeking to enforce restrictive population control laws by subjecting thousands of people to late-term forced abortions, compulsory sterilization, midnight raids, and beatings. In retaliation, on June 21, 2006, the Yinan County People’s Procuratorate formally arrested Chen on charges of damaging property and assembling a crowd to disrupt traffic. On August 24, 2006, Chen was found guilty of these charges and sentenced to four years and three months in prison. Chen’s final appeal was rejected on January 12, 2007 by Linyi Intermediate Court.
  • Ye Guozhu, a 53-year-old housing rights activist, remains in prison despite having completed his four-year prison sentence in July 2008. After attempting to organize protests against forced evictions related to the Beijing Olympics, Ye was convicted on December 18, 2004, on charges of “suspicion of disturbing social order.” Ye’s family has said they believe the government will hold him until after the games to prevent him from speaking freely.  
  • Ni Yulan, a 47-year-old lawyer who was disbarred and imprisoned for her work defending the rights of those forcibly evicted in Beijing and crippled by beatings she suffered in prison, is now awaiting trial on charges of “obstructing a public official” (Article 277 of the Criminal Law), which carries a maximum sentence of three years in prison. During the incident in question, Ni was resisting the demolition of her own home when she was hit on the head with a brick and dragged to the ground.  
  • Liu Shaokun, a Sichuan school teacher who photographed collapsed school buildings in quake-affected areas and posted his pictures online, has been ordered to serve one year of Reeducation-Through-Labor (RTL). Despite making several attempts, Liu’s family has not been allowed to see him since he was detained on June 25 this year. Though authorities told the family they could see him on July 29, they were again denied a visit.
  • Shuang Shuying, a 76 year old evictions petitioner, house church activist, and outspoken opponent of the Reeducation-Through-Labor (RTL) system, is currently serving a two-year term as the oldest inmate in Beijing Women's Prison for "intentional damage of public and private property." In 2002, Shuang saw her home in Beijing demolished to make way for Olympics redevelopment. Having to relocate eight times since, she and her family are among the estimated 3.7 million people who have been forcibly evicted throughout China in the past decade for the sake of development. When she petitioned the government for compensation, she was beaten and detained. As she languishes in prison after protesting her son's detention, her family has suffered repeated harassment. Most recently, on July 2, 2008, her 88-year-old husband, Hua Zaichen, and other family members were tossed out of their home after police forced open their door with an 18 pound iron. In a letter to Human Rights in China, Hua said,
“I lay on the ground, wet with rain from that evening, huddled in my quilt. I waited for dawn, hoping that China's dawn would come more quickly”.
(b)        Call to action
 
China should immediately release the political prisoners it holds and quash their convictions, particularly with respect to prisoners, like Huseyin Celil, who have a Canadian connection.
 
Upon release, China needs to guarantee its political prisoners an end to their persecution, and respect for their human rights, including their freedom of movement, freedom of religion, and freedom of expression.
 
 
(a)       Overview
 
Those who follow Falun Gong, a spiritual Eastern-based religion and exercise movement, are particularly singled out for abuse by the Chinese Government, which has banned the religion and demonized its practitioners. Indeed, Erping Zhang, the Director of the Association for Asian Research, has reported that  “some 8000 Falun Gong practitioners have been rounded up in the run-up to the games, and sent to a place that nobody knows.”
Current international estimates place the number of Falun Gong practitioners detained in “reeducation-through-labor camps,” psychiatric facilities, and prisons well into the hundreds of thousands, many of whom were tortured or died while in detention. In fact, a UN Special Rapporteur found in 2007 that Falun Gong practitioners accounted for 66 percent of victims of alleged torture while in government custody.
 
Most worrisome in this regard are the allegations of organ harvesting. An investigation by Canadian scholars David Matas and David Kilgour on behalf of the Coalition to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong in China concluded “that there has been and continues today to be large scale organ seizures from unwilling Falun Gong practitioners.”
 
In his 2006 testimony before Parliament’s Subcommittee on International Human Rights of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development (of which I am a member), Xun (Shawn) Li, President of the Falun Dafa Association of Canada noted that “By official government estimates, there were over 70 million people practising Falun Gong by 1999.”  She added “the regime formulated the following policy against Falun Gong: Defame their reputation, bankrupt them financially, eliminate them physically and count the death of Falun Gong practitioners as suicide.”
 
The U.S. based Falun Dafa Information Center documented “six cases of practitioner deaths occurring within merely 16 days of arrest and in some cases, within hours” in 2008. By comparison, it found in 2007 that over the course of the entire year the same number died shortly after being imprisoned.  Family members who viewed the bodies of their loved ones before cremation saw signs of torture, including strangulation marks or bruises from electric batons.
 
The Falun Dafa Information Center also reports that security agents informed Falun Gong practitioners “of orders received from above to escalate the crackdown on the group ahead of the Olympic Games.”
 
Since 1999, the Falun Dafa Information Center has documented the cases of 3,137 Falun Gong practitioners who have died “as a result of various forms of persecution, not only from abuse in custody, but also of destitution and other traumas related to the campaign.”
 
Tian Yixiang, the Director of the Military Bureau’s Security Command Center for the Beijing Olympic Games, told a reporter from the military channel of Xihua News Net that the main threat to security of the Olympic Games are “domestic forces against China, including the Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement, the Tibetan Independent Movement, and Falun Gong.” The Chinese government has been activating its military apparatus for the Olympic Games. According to Tian, the government of China “has mobilized army, marine and air militia from four military regions” as well as “airplanes, helicopters, ships, ground-to-air missiles, radar systems and anti-chemical weaponry.” These deployments led one Beijing resident to ask: “Are they hosting a sports event or starting a war?” 
 
(b)       Call to action
 
China must end its violations of the human rights of the Falun Gong and permit them to practice their religion in peace. Practitioners should no longer be arbitrarily detained and any individuals still imprisoned should be released. China must cease its criminalisation of the Falun Gong religion and legalize its open practice.
 
(a)        Overview
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights asserts that “everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion;” however, in China, allegiance to one’s faith is seen as superseding allegiance to the government of China itself. Indeed, at the Olympic Games – in a first – foreign chaplains will not be called upon to officiate services as Chinese citizens are prohibited from attending religious gatherings led by foreigners.
In addition to the particular plight of the Falun Gong, China violates the religious freedom of followers of other “non-registered” religions, such as Protestants. By means of example, Human Rights Watch wrote in 2008 that: “Reprisals against non-registered religious organizations have primarily focused on arrests of Protestants who attend ‘house churches,’ for Bible study meetings and training sessions.” Leaders of these churches are typically “held on fabricated charges including ‘illegal business practices.’” 
 
In 2007, Human Rights Watch noted that “these policies have been reflected in round-ups of Protestants – possibly as many as 1,958 in a one-year period ending June 2006.” While most of these people were quickly released after paying fines, the report also affirmed that “the government curtails religious freedom by designating some groups as cults.” Further, the Chinese government closely monitors state-sanctioned religions, including the “membership and financial records of religious personnel.” 
 
The U.S. State Department Country Reports on Human Rights Practices published in 2008 found that “the government sought to restrict religious practice to government-sanctioned organizations and registered places of worship and to control the growth and scope of the activity of religious groups… Leaders of unauthorized groups were sometimes the target of harassment, interrogation, detention, and physical abuse.”  
 
Rebiya Kadeer, President of the International Uyghur Human Rights and Democracy Foundation testified before the Canadian Parliamentary Subcommittee on International Human Rights and Development (of which I am a member) in 2006 on the particular plight of the Uyghur in this regard. As she put it, “If you just go to mosques and see people praying and try to talk to a Uyghur, and you tap on his or her shoulder and ask them what religious freedom is, or things like that, you can see the fear on their face. But when they say things, they would say they have their religious freedom and are living their best lives under Chinese rule.” According to Human Rights Watch, in June 2007 the Chinese government began “confiscating Muslims’ passports in an apparent bid to prevent them from making non-state-approved pilgrimages to Mecca.”
 
Amnesty International reported in January 2008 that the Chinese government attacked a “gang” of Uyghurs, killing two and arresting fifteen of the group. The government claimed in March 2008 that the group was plotting a terrorist attack against the Olympic Games, but Amnesty points out that it took the Chinese government two months to provide a reason for the raid. Further, Amnesty International notes that the Chinese government has not provided “concrete evidence to support these assertions.” 
 
(b)        Call to action
 
China must respect the religious freedom of its citizens and permit them the ability to practice their religion – including engaging in open worship and moving inside and outside the country as necessary – without threat of persecution. China should cease its oppression of practitioners of “non-registered” religions. Those practitioners who continue to be arbitrarily detained must be released.
 
 
(a)        Overview
 
Although the Chinese government denies holding any political prisoners, various NGOs estimate that 500 persons have been imprisoned for the since “repealed” crime of “counterrevolution.”  The U.S. State Department notes that “The government did not grant international humanitarian organizations access to political prisoners.”
 
Speaking before our Parliamentary subcommittee, Xue Sheng, Vice-President of the Federation for a Democratic China related the experiences of Zhang Lin, whose pro-democracy activities resulted in a prison sentence for three years followed by two years in a forced labour camp. As Sheng explained, “he came to the United States in 1997, but in 1998 he decided to return to China to continue implementing his vision. Because of his dream for a better China, he was sentenced to three years again of re-education through labour right after he entered China.”
 
According to Amnesty International, the vice-mayor of Beijing, Liu Jingmin, warned that that anyone planning to protest during the Games “must get police permission, but, such permission is almost never granted in China, particularly for demonstrations which criticise official policy or draw attention to human rights concerns.” 
 
Housing rights activist Ye Guozho, as reported above, recently applied for “permission to hold a demonstration about forced evictions in Beijing” but instead was arrested and sentenced to four years in prison. Amnesty International reports that Ye has been tortured in prison, and the Chinese authorities will neither confirm nor deny these reports. Amnesty further reports that Ye’s son and brother “were also detained” for public protests against “forced evictions reportedly carried out to clear space for Olympic-related construction.” Ye’s son was released but was warned by the Chinese authorities not to contact the media because it “could have a ‘negative impact’ on his situation and that of his father.” 
 
The Globe and Mail reported on July 25 that “Guozho has had his four-year prison sentence lengthened as a direct result of the Olympics. He was to be released tomorrow, but now he will be held until Oct. 1, or even later, so that he will not protest during the Games.”
 
Most importantly, Amnesty International reports that the number of arrests and trials of political activists increased “by nearly 20 percent” in 2006 and “rose to their highest levels in eight years in 2007.” Clearly, China is using the Olympics to crack down on dissent and non-state sanctioned political activity. Amnesty International explained in a recent report that:
 
At the end of June 2008, Shanghai police sent notices to activists and petitioners based in the city ordering them to report to the police every week. Some were briefly detained by police. The new rules barred them from leaving the city without permission and warned them against speaking with foreigners or visiting Beijing until after the Olympics. According to one notice, obtained by the Hong-Kong based Information Centre for Human Rights and Democracy, the rules, in effect from 1 April 2008 to 31 October 2008, were “to ensure social security during the Beijing Olympic Games.” The notice added that those violating the rules “may be warned, detained or face criminal punishment.”
 
In the same month, local authorities in other parts of China also warned petitioners not to travel to Beijing. […]
 
            (b)        Call to action
 
Instead of tightening restrictions in the run-up to and on the eve of the Olympic Games, China must liberalize its policies and allow protesters and political dissidents to exercise their right to free speech and expression, as well as their freedoms of association and of movement. Indeed, such an approach is in China’s own self-interest, and would portray China in a far better light, in the eyes of the international community, than its current policy, which is orchestrated in an attempt to show China as being a country of order and stability.
 
In particular, China should:
 
·        remove any requirements that known activists report regularly to the police;
·        allow peaceful activists to freely move about the country, including movement to, from and within Beijing;
·        allow peaceful activists to vocalize their messages without threat of detention and/or prosecution;
·        end its suppression of dissenters through their prosecution for broad crimes such as “separatism”, “subversion”, “disturbing public order”, “endangering state security” and “leaking state secrets”; and
·        in all circumstances, refuse to use measures of “control, surveillance and arbitrary detention against members of activists’ families,” as Amnesty International reports.
 
As set forth under 1. (b) above, China should also release those prisoners of conscience that it continues to hold, including those prisoners that are held under “house arrest.”
 
5.                    Continued Repression of Tibetans
 
(a)        Overview
 
The U.S. State Department’s 2008 Country Report on China reached the grim conclusion that “The government's human rights record in Tibetan areas of China remained poor, and the level of repression of religious freedom remained high. The government continued to strongly criticize the Dalai Lama and to associate Tibetan Buddhist religious activity with separatist sympathies.”
 
The recent protests in Tibet and the violent repression by the Chinese government highlight the lack of improvement in China’s human rights record. On March 22, 2008, the flagship newspaper of China’s ruling Communist Party called for “efforts to ‘resolutely crush’ anti-government demonstrations by Tibetans.” The government also called on people to turn in those on a ‘Most Wanted list’ of 21 protestors. 
 
According to Human Rights Watch, the recent trials of 30 Tibetan protestors ended with sentences ranging from three years to life imprisonment. Human Rights Watch concluded that these trials were unfair because the protestors were “tried on secret evidence behind closed doors and without the benefit of a meaningful defence by lawyers they had chosen.” 
 
Simply put “The human rights situation of Tibetans has not improved despite China having been granted the Olympic Games in 2008.” This statement was made by the National Coordinator of the Canada-Tibet Committee, testifying before our Parliamentary subcommittee in late 2006. On March 23, 2008, the President of the IOC expressed concern over the situation in Tibet, stating: “The events in Tibet are a matter of great concern to the IOC … violence for whatever reason is contrary to the Olympic values and spirit.” 
 
Examples of this repression include:
 
·        Restrictions on monasteries and religious rituals;
·        Detention of monks and nuns;
·        Campaign of vilification of the Dalai Lama;
·        Repression of non-governmental workers and non-CCP members deemed associated with the Dalai Lama;
·        Vacationing students being warned to stay away from monasteries and temples on threat of expulsion;
·        The expunging of the teachings of the Dalai Lama through state-sanctioned atheistic education;
·        The blocking of broadcasts by the Oslo-based Voice of Tibet;
·        Chinese economic development – much of which takes place in Tibetan minority areas, including the Tibetan Autonomous Region – has not only marginalized and impoverished Tibetans in economic terms, but undermined further the Tibetan ethnic, cultural, and religious identity and autonomy; and
·        Restriction on foreign media, virtually sealing off Tibet from the outside world.
 
(b)        Call to action
 
China needs to be held to account for its “response” to protests in Tibet. However, present restrictions on press freedom and government refusals to provide data on its actions have made such accountability impossible.
 
China must therefore respond to all inquiries relating to its activities in Tibet in the wake of the March 2008 protests. It must confirm the status of all those killed and/or detained. China must also grant the international press access to the 116 people officially acknowledged to still be in government custody, and assure these prisoners a fair trial. To the extent individuals are still being held for nothing more than their involvement in peaceful protests, these individuals must be released.
 
More broadly, China must open up access to Tibet for foreigners, and especially for foreign journalists. The government must also end its campaign of vilification against the Dalai Lama, allow pro-Tibet voices – from both domestic and foreign sources – to be heard in China, and respect the Tibetan people and their culture in future developments.
 
 
(a)        Overview
 
As this is being written – and since the Olympic Village press center opened – the Times has reported that reporters “have been unable to access scores of web pages – among them those that discuss Tibetan issue, Taiwanese independence, the violent crackdown on the protest of Tiananmen Square, and the Web sites of Amnesty International, The BBC’s Chinese language news, Radio Free Asian and several newspapers known for their free-willing political discourse.”
 
China’s state-control of the internet, dubbed “the great firewall of China,” has resulted in Chinese officials shutting down “more than 700 online forums” and ordering “eight search engines to filter “subversive and sensitive content’ based on 10,000 key words,” according to a recent report by Human Rights Watch. The U.S. State Department’s assessment echoed this finding, reporting that “sites discussing Taiwan and Tibetan independence, underground religious and spiritual organizations, democracy activists, and the 1989 Tiananmen massacre” were banned. Those posting content deemed “subversive” faced charges – including sentences for two, four, ten, and twelve-years, respectively, for internet writers Li Yuanlong, Guo Qizhen, Ren Ziyuan, and Li Jianqiang.  
 
As Human Rights Watch has noted in its 2008 Report, “China’s system of internet censorship and surveillance is the most advanced in the world. Filtering, blocking, and monitoring technologies are built into all layers of China’s internet infrastructure. Tens of thousands of police remotely monitor internet use around the clock. The elaborate system of censorship is aided by extensive corporate and private sector cooperation—including by some of the world’s major international technology and internet companies such as Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft. Writers, editors, bloggers, webmasters, writers, and journalists risk punishments ranging from immediate dismissal to prosecution and lengthy jail terms for sending news outside China or posting articles critical of the political system. For example, Zhang Jianhong, former editor-in-chief of the Aegean Sea website, was sentenced to six years’ imprisonment on March 19 for ‘inciting subversion’.”  
 
Zhao Donghai, sentenced to 16 years in prison for his actions at Tiananmen Square, spoke before our Parliamentary subcommittee about the divide between the de jure promise of freedoms and the de facto situation in China, recounting that, “For example, at the very beginning of the Constitution, it says that this law is for the people of China. In Chapter 1, it also says that every citizen in the country has freedom of speech, publication, conventions, societies, and demonstrations – all these freedoms – but they're not implemented.”
 
Government officials used civil lawsuits in addition to criminal prosecution to intimidate authors and block controversial writings. An example is the author Zhou Yuanzhi who was arrested May 3, 2008, under the charge of “inciting subversion of state authority.”
 
As this Report went to press, I have been advised by my colleague, Marcel Proulx, Member of Parliament for Hull Aylmer, that a constituent of his riding who is working in Beijing is encountering major difficulties in arranging to watch the Games. Her television cable has been cut-off by the Chinese authorities; bars/restaurants near her apartment have been taken over by undesirable groups (drug trade, prostitution ring, etc); and Foreign Affairs has confirmed that the television cable at the Canadian embassy has been cut-off.
 
(b)        Call to action
 
The International Olympic Committee must reaffirm and require that Chinese authorities provide full web access for foreign news media during the Games.
 
Indeed, Jacques Rogge, the International Olympic Committee President had long argued that one of the main benefits of awarding the Games to Beijing was that it would result in China becoming a more open society. As Mr. Rogge put it, “For the first time, foreign media will be able to report freely and publish their work freely in China. There will be no censorship on the Internet,” Mr. Rogge told Agenge France Presse just two weeks ago.
 
Accordingly, China must lift its restrictions on the Internet and end the firewall between the media and its access to Internet-based information.
 
China should free those imprisoned for no other reason than seeking to exercise their freedom of expression, and allow “controversial” communications to enter into public debate in its country, whether through the internet or traditional media.
 
Moreover, by refusing its Chinese citizens the opportunity to take part in a marketplace of ideas, China is not only violating the human rights of speakers, but of listeners as well. Without allowing free expression to reach its citizenry, China is creating generations of individuals without the perspective and information to engage in debate, criticize policies and challenge the government.
 
 
(a)        Overview
 
In addition to the Internet restrictions noted above, Amnesty International found in 2008 that “journalists continue to work under conditions of tight control and censorship and those that publish articles critical of the authorities or official policy risk prosecution and imprisonment.” As the U.S. State Department attests, “Journalists who reported on topics that met with the government’s or local authorities’ disapproval continued to suffer harassment, detention, and imprisonment.” Foreign journalists no longer need permission to conduct interviews outside of Beijing or Shanghai, yet many foreign journalists are harassed by the State.
 
A recent example was reported by the Toronto Star, recounting Chinese authorities breaking up a live interview from the Great Wall of China, writing “Correspondent Johannes Hano had just begun the interview when a pair of waving hands suddenly appeared, a surge of police stepped in – there were more than 30 in all – and finally a big hand came down on the camera’s lens and it was all over.”
 
In a 2008 Human Rights Watch report on media access ahead of the Games noted that “many foreign correspondents we spoke with say that conditions have worsened in some areas over the past year. Nearly all say that journalists today continue to face significant obstacles whenever the issues on which they wish to report are deemed “sensitive” by central or local authorities.
 
The ongoing closure of Tibet to foreign journalists offers the starkest illustration of this point.  The Chinese government has virtually sealed off the region, expelling foreign journalists and tourists. The Chinese government has long banned independent human rights observers from Tibet and punishes Tibetans who send information out of the country regarding the human rights situation.
 
Echoing this point, in its most current report, Amnesty International notes that “[e]xcept for some officially orchestrated tours for journalists and diplomats, reporters were effectively banned from the [Tibet] region preventing the outside world from monitoring the actions of the authorities.” Indeed, “to date, the authorities have failed to disclose full details of all those killed, injured or detained by the security forces in connection with [recent] prote
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