Chinese government, IOC wasted historic opportunity for reform

Other News Materials 6 August 2008 04:27 (UTC +04:00)

The 2008 Beijing Olympics will open tainted by a sharp increase in human rights abuses directly linked to China's preparations for the games, Human Rights Watch said today. The games open on August 8, 2008.

The run-up to the Beijing Olympics has been marred by a well-documented surge in violations of the rights of free expression and association, as well as media freedom. In addition, abuses of migrant construction workers who were pivotal to Beijing's infrastructure improvements have increased, as have evictions of Beijing residents whose homes were demolished to make way for that infrastructure. Those abuses reflect both the Chinese government's wholesale failure to honor its Olympics-related human rights promises, as well as the negligence of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in ensuring that China fulfills its commitments.

"The Chinese government and the International Olympic Committee have had seven years to deliver on their pledges that these games would further human rights," said Sophie Richardson, Asia advocacy director for Human Rights Watch. "Instead, the Beijing Games have prompted a rollback in some of the most basic rights enshrined in China's constitution and international law."

"The Chinese government and the International Olympic Committee have wasted a historic opportunity to use the Beijing Games to make real progress on human rights in China," said Richardson. "That failure has damaged the prospects for a legacy of enhanced media freedom, greater tolerance for dissent, and respect for the rule of law."

Instead, the Chinese government has concentrated its energies on smothering the voices of those who have spoken out publicly about the need for greater tolerance for and development of human rights.

"The crackdown on activists, the increase in evictions, the harassment of journalists, and the 'sweeps' from Beijing are all worsening because of the Olympics," Richardson said. "Only by releasing these people and ending this intimidation can the Chinese government and the IOC salvage the integrity of the Olympics."