WASHINGTON, D.C.—Exactly one year before the 2008 Olympic Games begin in Beijing, on August 8, Amnesty International (AI) hosted a protest outside the Chinese Embassy in Washington, D.C., calling on the Chinese regime to fulfill its promise of promoting human rights as part of the fundamental principles of Olympism.
AI spokesmen, T. Kumar said that the Chinese regimes behavior is in direct contradiction to the spirit of the Olympics.
Kumar read from a poster that quoted from the Olympic charter one of its "fundamental principles of Olympism":
"Any form of discrimination with regard to a country, or a person on grounds of race, religion, politics, gender, or otherwise is incompatible with belonging to the Olympic Movement."
Prominent business woman and spokesperson for the Uyghur American Association, Rebiya Kadeer, 60, said:
"The Chinese regime continues to commit systematic, widespread and gross human rights violations against Uyghurs, Tibetans, Mongolians, Falun Gong members and ordinary Chinese people."
Kadeer explained that the Communist regime intensified its repression of the Uyghur people especially after it was awarded the 2008 Olympics. "As a result of this repression, many Uyghurs have been arrested, imprisoned and executed," said Kadeer.
"As the country prepares to hold the [Olympic] Games, China is harassing, intimidating and detaining journalists who report on sensitive subjects, violating the media-freedom pledge it made to the International Olympic Committee," said Kadeer.
The Chinese regime claims it will allow press freedom during the 2008 Olympics, but Kadeer says that this bending of the rules does not apply to her homeland (East Turkistan) and Tibet. The regime has tightened media control and censorship and restricted foreign journalists' access to East Turkistan and Tibet, according to Kadeer.
At the headquarters of AI in London, AI's Secretary General Irene Khan warned:
"…Not only are we not seeing delivery on the promises made that the Olympics would help improve the human rights situation in China, but the police are using the pretext of the Olympics to extend the use of detention without trial."
In AI's report, "The Olympic Countdown," China is criticized for: "Increased use of detention without trial to 'clean up' Beijing ahead of the games, including 'Enforced Drug Rehabilitation' and the extension of categories of petty crime for which 'Re-education through Labour' is applied," said Khan.
Charles Lee, a U.S. citizen and physician, also spoke at the DC protest as a Falun Gong victim in China. Kumar introduced Li, saying he had been forced to stand for days at a time. Li spent most of his three-year sentence in a slave labor camp. He brought to the rally a Homer Simpson slipper to show the crowd what he was forced to make at the work camp.
Also, at the rally, Jacob Colker, DC spokesperson of the International Campaign for Tibet, told the crowd that 14 exiled Tibetans in New Delhi were on their 32nd day hunger strike, which they said would not cease until the Chinese regime responds to their demands that pertain to freedom in Tibet.
While praising their good intentions, the Dalai Lama described the act in a letter August 7, as being a form of violence and reportedly said, "Simply sacrificing the lives of more Tibetan people is not likely to bring about the positive result that we seek." Instead of sacrificing "precious human lives in this way," The Dalai Lama wrote, "It would be of greater benefit and service to our cause by striving to continuously carry out this spirit of unyielding courage and determination from generation to generation."
The 14 Tibetans in New Delphi ended their hunger strike on the 33rd day, August 9, the day after this rally. The more than a month long hunger strike may well serve as a preview of the kinds of pressures Beijing will be facing as we move closer to the opening day of the Olympics.