Join our Mailing List

"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."

Dissident invites Olympic chief to visit jail

August 10, 2008

By Clifford Coonan in Beijing
The Independent (UK)
August 8, 2008

As Tibet protests rippled around the globe yesterday, one of China's
most prominent dissidents delivered a powerful rebuke to the head of
the International Olympic Committee, Jacques Rogge, from his jail
cell in Beijing No. 2 prison.

"I have a question for Mr Rogge," wrote He Depu. "Each time you come
to Beijing and see the joyous spectacles here, do you know that just
10 or so kilometres away, Beijing's political prisoners are suffering
immensely for the progress of society and the elevation of human
civilisation? Tens of thousands of prisoners in Beijing, each holding
a bowl half-full of boiled vegetables, are training their eyes upon
you. How does this make you feel?"

Mr He took part in the Democracy Wall Movement in 1979, the
pro-democracy movement in 1989, and in 1998 helped form the banned
China Democracy Party. He was jailed for eight years in 2002 for
"inciting subversion of state power" and his letter passed through
many hands before it reached the Human Rights in China group, which
has published it.

The political prisoner invited the Olympic chief to pay him a visit
and shine the spotlight on the woeful conditions in the jail. "We are
not asking for a total transformation in the human rights condition,"
he wrote. "We are only asking for a small, basic change."

There have been numerous expressions of dissent in the run-up to the
Olympic Games, which will open this evening at the "Bird's Nest"
stadium, as activists of various hues seek to use the Olympic
platform to highlight their causes.

Following protests yesterday by British and US students calling for
freedom for Tibet, three American Christian activists protested on
Tiananmen Square for religious freedom and human rights before they
were swooped on by Chinese plainclothes security officials as they
started a prayer vigil. It was the second day they had held the protest.

The US President George Bush used some of the strongest language yet
to publicly press China to improve its human rights record, one day
before his arrival in the country to watch the Games.

"The United States believes the people of China deserve the
fundamental liberty that is the natural right of all human beings,"
he said in a speech in Bangkok. "America stands in firm opposition to
China's detention of political dissidents, and human rights advocates
and religious leaders."

More than 40 athletes competing in the Olympics have urged China to
peacefully settle contention over Tibet and protect freedom of
religion and opinion. They are among 127 international athletes
reported to have signed a petition to the President Hu Jintao,
bringing sports and human rights together in a way that Beijing
rejects, saying it does not want to "politicise" the Olympics.
CTC National Office 1425 René-Lévesque Blvd West, 3rd Floor, Montréal, Québec, Canada, H3G 1T7
T: (514) 487-0665
Developed by plank