We Want Human Rights, Not the Olympics

June 30, 2007 Updated: June 30, 2007

CHINA—Recently, about 800 Shanghai citizens, published their real names on the Internet with a joint appeal letter titled “Shanghai People's Urgent Appeal Letter: We Want Human Rights, Instead of the Olympics.”

Not long ago 6,000 farmers who lost their land in China's northeast Heilongjiang Province also published a similar joint appeal.

“The 2008 Beijing Olympics is around the corner. Instead of bringing us good luck and happiness, for the last six years, we have been thrown into an unprecedented human rights disaster which we have not seen the end of yet.” said their appeal letter.

Futility of Personal Appeals

Most of the 800 Shanghai citizens are long time appellants who have lost their homes through forced demolition and relocation. In order to protect their rights, they appealed continually, but instead of their problem being resolved, the regime uses “maintaining the social stability” for the Olympics as the excuse to suppress those appeals. According to the appeal letter, “All of the open and legal channels for us to appeal to have been blocked, many of us has been beaten many times by this mafia style government.”

Violence and Coercion

The appellants' basic living conditions were also deprived. Many of them had been beaten, detained, sentenced, and/or experienced family breakups. Many of their relatives were tortured to death or committed suicide.

Mr. Zhang Zhaolin's house was illegally demolished nearly 5 years ago, and his family still has no regular place to live. Zhang's wife was forcefully sent to a mental hospital on September 19, 2005, because she looked for help from the U.S. Consulate in Shanghai.

Zhang said, “It has been two years since they deprived my wife of her freedom, she is not detained with normal people. I have looked at every avenue for help, but had no success. This Olympics has nothing to do with us. I just want to get the properties belonging to me returned to live a peaceful life.”

Zhang continued, “It is supposed to be a glorious thing for any country to host the Olympics, but to us, we have no enthusiasm for the Olympics. We have no place to live, we are always on the move…the Olympics symbolize peace, harmony and prosperity, but in reality, there is no harmony.”

On November 3, 2006, Duan Huimin went to Beijing to appeal. His internal organs were severely injured from a beating by police and local government officials whose duty it is to stop people from appealing. During his detention, Duan requested hospitalization daily, but all his requests were denied. On January 2, 2007, Duan died from his severe injuries and delayed treatment. Just two days before his death, Duan received a notice of a one year labor camp sentence.

Duan Huimin's younger sister Duan Huifang said, “What the Olympics gives us is salt on top of insult. We want a peaceful life, but whenever there are important conferences or foreign VIP visitors, we are illegally placed under house arrest and monitored. Not long ago, when the new Shanghai Party Chief Xi Jinping visited the neighborhood, we were place under house arrest.”

“Does the Olympics promote a good life for the people, respect for human rights, protection of human rights? We have no human rights and no democracy, so we fail to see the purpose of holding the Olympics. Only a small group of dictators benefit, there is no benefit to Chinese democracy at all. We should resist the Olympics.” said Duan Huifang.

Just before her death, the local regime forced Zhou Yuezhen to sign a document on her death bed agreeing to a forced relocation. To express her grievance, Zhou, in bed, took a photo of herself while holding her will, written in large script, to entrust her daughter to continue the appeal after she passes away. Zhou Yuezhen died on her birthday at age 70.

Zhou's daughter told the reporter that Zhou was very healthy before the forced relocation, but after appealing for several months, she suffered from fatigue and liver cancer.

Mao Haixiu used to have a happy family and a good income as a manager of a tailoring business in her inherited property. In August 2001, the local regime forcefully relocated her. Her ex-husband died at the scene.

Mao said, “It should be Chinese people's glory to have the Olympic Games here, but currently, even our right to a basic living cannot be ensured. What is the use of having such a peacockish thing, we are against it.”

The appeal letter also said, “No matter how low profile our appeal is, and non-political and non organized… it could not change our fate of being persecuted, being cracked down upon!”

The People or the Games

“We appeal to all governments, media and non-governmental organizations with conscience: We want human rights instead of the Olympics! We hope you will continue to pay attention to Shanghai's human rights, listen to our voice, make a judgment between human rights and the Olympics. Which one is more important to Shanghai citizens?”