On the seventh anniversary of Beijing being granted the 2008 Olympics by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Amnesty International held a Global Day of Action last Saturday to remind China of their broken human rights promises.
Beijing was selected over Toronto, Paris, Istanbul and Osaka to host the 2008 games, one of the deciding factors was China's promise to develop human rights in the country. This was also to include the removal of restrictions on the media and the movement of journalists on the run up to the Olympics. Many foreign journalists have found this to be the opposite especially after the Tibet incident and crack down thereafter.
China continues to use the ‘Re-education through labour’ (RTL) programmes and detention without trial. The authorities have also increased their persecution of groups like Falun Gong.
On Grafton street in Dublin last Saturday, Amnesty International members and supporters used a Chinese dragon puppet and banners to call upon the public to sign postcards supporting amnesty latest initiative. Which is to “urge the Chinese authorities to abolish the death penalty, end censorship of the Internet and abolish the ‘Re-education through labour programme, effectively a system of concentration camps."
An Amnesty International spokesperson said, "6000 postcards have been signed already and the goal is to get a total of 10,000 signed postcards before the Olympics.”
These cards will be sent to the Taoiseach asking him to take a public stand requesting China to deliver on the commitments they made prior to being awarded the Olympics.
China has neglected its promises to uphold the legacy of the Olympiad. "Seven years ago, the Chinese authorities promised the Olympics would bring improvement for people’s human rights but instead repression of activists and journalists has continued because of the Olympics”, said Noeleen Hartigan, Programmes Director, Amnesty International Irish Section.
At this stage is seems unlikely that Beijing Olympic legacy will be a positive one with respect to China's honouring of their commitments made during the bidding process to improve the human rights situation in China.
I asked John Moran from Amnesty Ireland if they had been in any direct contact with the Chinese Embassy in Dublin he said, “we are always ready and willing to meet government representatives to discuss the situation in that country but unfortunately we have not been able to meet officials from the Chinese Embassy.”