Chinese Activists Want Olympic Committee to Address Human Rights

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Oct 9, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Chinese Activists Want Olympic Committee to Address Human Rights

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by Steven Ertelt Editor
October 9
, 2006

Beijing, China ( — In the face of the jailing of a blind attorney who brought international exposure to a brutal family planning campaign of forced abortions and sterilizations, Chinese activists are asking the International Olympic Committee to lobby the Asian nation to improve its human rights record in advance of the 2008 Olympics.

China is slated to host the international sporting event, which is meant to foster unity and better relations between nations.

However, Chinese activists have said that the jailing of Chen Guangcheng is part of a national crackdown on dissidents in the Communist country in advance of receiving the worldwide spotlight.

The activists sent the letter to IOC President Jacques Rogge and said the human rights abuses have worsened in China recently.

"Less than two years to go before the Olympics … the Chinese government needs to mute critical voices in advance," the letter said, according to a Reuters report. "That’s the very reason they have been suppressing grassroots rights-defending movements on such a full scale."

The Chinese human rights advocates said they were not opposed to the Olympic games and were not calling for a boycott, Reuters reported.

"But the ‘harmony’ of the Games should not come at the cost of Chinese people being deprived of human rights and the silencing of China’s human rights cause," they explained.

China promised to curb its human rights abuses in advance of the games, but the human rights watchdog Amnesty International has said that hasn’t happened.

Last year, Chen Guangcheng exposed how officials in Linyi, China forced more than 10,000 women to have abortions or sterilizations to enforce the nation’s family planning policy allowing couples to have only one child.

Relatives of the women were beaten or threatened and jailed in some cases until they told authorities where to find some women who were hiding.

In August, Chen was found guilty on trumped up charges and he received a four year and four month jail sentence from a local court in Linyi. His attorneys, who were prevented from attending the trial and detained on fake charges as well, have appealed the sentence.

The letter called on the IOC to ask China to free Chen and other political prisoners and referred to previous IOC actions during the Nazi-controlled 1936 Olympics games and a ban on South Africa participating in the Olympics because of apartheid, Reuters indicated.

"We hope IOC could pay close attention to China’s human rights as it did to South Africa’s in the past," the letter said.

According to Reuters, the IOC responded to a similar appeal from AI last month by saying that it is not its place to lobby governments to change their laws. The IOC also said it was premature to say whether China had failed to live up to its bargain to curb abuses in advance of the Olympic games.