Amnesty International: Pre-Olympics Crackdown
With little more than four months to go before the Beijing Olympics, few substantial reforms have been introduced that will have a significant, positive impact on human rights in China.1This is particularly apparent in the plight of individual activists and journalists, who have bravely sought to expose ongoing human rights abuses and call on the government to address them. Recent measures taken by the authorities to detain, prosecute and imprison those who raise human rights concerns suggest that, to date, the Olympic Games has failed to act as a catalyst for reform. Unless the Chinese authorities take steps to redress the situation urgently, a positive human rights legacy for the Beijing Olympics looks increasingly beyond reach.
It is increasingly clear that much of the current wave of repression is occurring not in spite of the Olympics, but actually because of the Olympics. Peaceful human rights activists, and others who have publicly criticised official government policy, have been targeted in the official pre-Olympics ‘clean up’, in an apparent attempt to portray a ‘stable’ or ‘harmonious’ image to the world by August 2008.
According to overseas Falun Gong organizations, there has also been an increase in detentions of Falun Gong practitioners in the run-up to the Olympics.On 12 March 2008, the US-based Falun Dafa Information Centre published information suggesting that at least 67 individuals had been detained in Beijing since December 2007. The notes attached to these cases suggested that four had since been released or escaped while two, possibly three, had been assigned to RTL.
Case update: Falun Gong practitioner Bu Dongwei continues to be held at Tuanhe RTL facility in Beijing after being assigned to two-and-a-half years’ RTL on 19 June 2006 for “resisting the implementation of national law and disturbing social order” after police discovered Falun Gong literature at his home. He is reportedly being forced to work six days a week gluing together paper bags and other packing materials and to undergo ‘study classes’ in the evenings. His family are allowed to visit him once a month, but the facility is located far from their home and they can only go every 2-3 months. Bu Dongwei appears to have lost weight and his eyesight has deteriorated during his time in detention. Amnesty International is deeply concerned for his health and continues to call for his immediate and unconditional release.