Secretary of Former CCP Leader Zhao Ziyang Supports Human Rights Torch Relay

August 10, 2007 Updated: August 10, 2007

As the Beijing Olympic Games approaches, more people are demanding improvements in the human rights situation in China. Many international human rights organizations, including Reporters Without Boarders, Amnesty International, Committee to Protect Journalists, and Human Rights Watch have issued reports or held activities in the last few days, urging Beijing to keep their promise to improve human rights.

On August 7, a group of renowned Chinese intellectuals wrote an open letter to Hu Jintao, Wen Jiabao, the International Olympic Committee, the Human Rights Committee of United Nations, leaders of various democratic countries, international non-government human rights organizations, as well as people in sports, business, academia, and arts around the world who have shown concern for human rights and democracy. The letter urged them to take the opportunity of the Beijing Olympic Games to advocate progress in China's human rights. Analysts consider this open letter one of the more significant steps taken by Chinese intellectuals in recent years towards universal rights protection.

On August 7, 2007, The Epoch Times interviewed one of the initiators of the open letter, Bao Tong. Bao was the secretary of Zhao Ziyang. Zhang was former General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Central Committee, a secretary of the Standing Committee of Political Bureau, a former member of CCP Central Committee, and the director of the Research Institute for CCP Political System Reform. After the Tiananmen Massacre of 1989, he was sentenced to seven years in prison. Upon being released, he was put under long-term house-arrest with his communication to the outside world cut off.

Advocating Spirit of Humanitarianism of the Olympic Games

Bao said, “The focus of our open letter is to advocate the spirit of humanitarianism of the Olympic Games and to oppose discrimination. Our demand complies with international principles of humanitarianism, and also with the citizen rights defined by the Chinese Constitution.”

He said, “Various negative phenomena in today's Chinese society propelled us to propose such a demand. According to the official slogan proposed by the Chinese Regime for the games, 'One World, One Dream,' Chinese citizens should certainly have the 'same human rights' as others. If this Olympic Games lacks humanity and human rights, then it would be a failure. In addition, various social conflicts that have accumulated from the government's suppression of people for the purpose of holding the Olympic Games are causing serious problems for China's future development.”

Bao urged the international society to pay more attention to the human rights situation in China. He said if China wants to become modernized, the first thing the CCP needs to do is to improve its attitude on humanitarianism, a concept that should be in sync with the rest of the world. Connecting with the world is not limited to connection in the fields of science and technology or raw materials.

Demand Human Rights, Stay Away from Politics

Bao also said, “Some people have asked the question, 'Have the Olympic Games become political?' Actually, we are opposing the Olympic Games becoming political, as we are opposing the discrimination that has resulted from politics, and opposing abuse of human rights. Therefore, our demand is truly in compliance with the spirit of the Olympic Games. I don't believe that anybody would be against the nature of the Olympic Games—humanitarianism. Our advocating humanitarianism is to stay away from politics.”

He added, “It is just because we don't propose to let the Olympic Games become political, we advocate humanitarianism and human rights. We demand the release of prisoners of conscience, to set free those Chinese citizens imprisoned because of their words or beliefs, for organizing groups, standing up for their rights, or other political reasons. We also demand that Chinese citizens who have been exiled for such reasons to be allowed to return their home safely.”

Bao emphasized, “Labeling the demand for human rights as an attempt to turn the Olympic Games political is trampling human rights and not treating humans as humans. It may also be an attempt to cover up their own political intentions and shift the focus onto someone else. To treat humanitarianism as something subversive is surely a cover-up of political intent.”

Supporting Human Rights Torch Relay

The global human rights torch relay began in Athens, Greece on August 9 with the lighting of the torch. The relay will cover five continents, several dozen countries, and hundreds of cities. The organizations participating in the activity hope that the initiative will help put an end to the CCP's human rights abuses, and in particular, the live organ harvesting of Falun Gong practitioners.

Bao gave high remarks for the relay, calling it a “sacred activity” and “very meaningful.” He said that it is something worth celebration, and that it should catch everyone's attention.

Bao also said, “I thank all who are concerned with China's human rights situation. Overseas activities [like this] can improve the situation in China since we all live in the same world. Globalization is something irreversible. During this process, people will feel that all of us are getting closer and closer.”