When will the Chinese government respect human rights?

11 Jul

I am appalled to come across this news story which absolutely floored me. AFP writes, ‘China has jailed 42 people for their roles in this year’s unrest in Tibet, with more than 100 others still on trial who may face the death penalty’. If the Chinese state went ahead with the decision to execute these peaceful protestors, then it will have been guilty of execution for a people’s desire for self- autonomy.

We have been constantly told that with the Olympics coming, the Chinese Communist Party will start to show signs or at least, have taken steps to brush up its human rights records. We are constantly told that having the Olympics in Beijing is a good idea for the authoritarian market capitalist state will be forced to brush up its human rights violations.

Contrary to what we have been told, the reverse has happened.

It does not help that major states have chosen to condone China. French President Nicolas Sarkozy has argued that he has the backing of the Europeans in his ‘controversial decision to attend the opening of the Beijing Olympics’. As he argues, “I happen to think that humiliating China is not the best way. The best way is frank dialogue” Lest Sarkozvy has amnesia, dialogue with China has often fallen on deaf ears because the burgeoning trading giant has always been able to deflect criticisms. Can we trust Sarkozy to tell President Hu Jintao or Premier Wen Jiabao to respect human rights during the games?

According to this news report from Canada.com, progresss on China’s human rights record is minimal as ‘the Chinese government, with the help of the International Olympic Committee, has done its best to impede progress’. It also noted that the American President George Bush will attend the opening ceremony as well. So much for the war-monger and his bravado in promoting democracy overseas.

When the West, which purports to uphold human rights benchmarks, concedes and allow violating states that much leeway, they are not only cheapening the language of human rights but also the sacrifices of human rights defenders. 

As the HRW press release for the report notes, ‘Some journalists have suffered serious threats to their lives or safety. Most recently, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has declined to investigate death threats made against more than 10 correspondents and their family members in March and April 2008. In September 2007, senior Reuters correspondent Chris Buckley was beaten and detained by plainclothes thugs after interviewing rural citizens who had come to Beijing seeking redress for abuses committed by local authorities who were held at an illegal detention facility in Beijing. The following month, a European television news journalist suffered similar treatment while trying to report on unrest in Hebei province.’

The international community, in particular, politicians and sports people, needs to show some spine. Governmental leaders need to stop pandering to China and adopt a stronger language, urging the state to release political prisoners, stop harrassing journalists and halt the unfair trials against the Tibetian protestors. Enough is enough.


2 Responses to “When will the Chinese government respect human rights?”

  1. Roger July 14, 2008 at 4:25 pm #

    Charles. Giving Beijing the Olympics was never about improving its human rights and for the good of world sport .It was and is only about greed and a desire to show off. It is time the Olympics was done away with, or had a permanent home.

  2. Dassin July 15, 2008 at 4:06 am #

    Perhaps never, yet the olympics are still goign on?


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