Reporters Without Borders today urged heads of state, heads of government and members of royal families to boycott the 8 August opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympic Games because of the Chinese government’s mounting human rights violations and the glaring lack of freedom in China.
“China has not kept any of the promises it made in 2001 when it was chosen to host these Olympics,” the press freedom organisation said. “Instead, the government is crushing the Tibetan protests and is imposing a news blackout, while Hu Jia, a tireless human rights campaigner, is facing a possible five-year prison sentence at the end of a summary and unfair trial.
“Politicians throughout the world cannot remain silent about this situation. We call on them to voice their disapproval of China’s policies by announcing their intention not to attend the opening of the Olympic Games. Britain’s Prince Charles has already said he will not go to Beijing on 8 August. Others should follow suit.
“Calling for a complete boycott of the Olympic Games is not a good solution. The aim is not to deprive athletes of the world’s biggest sports event or to deprive the public of the spectacle. But it would be outrageous not to firmly demonstrate one’s disagreement with the Chinese government’s policies and not to show solidarity with the thousands of victims of this authoritarian regime.
“The only improvement in press freedom that had been seen was a relaxation in January 2007 of the rules under which foreign journalists are obliged to operate in China. The news blackout on Tibet and the expulsion of foreign reporters who were in the area have swept away what was the only positive measure.
“All those who think Olympics should go hand in hand with respect for human rights are also urged to insist that the International Olympic Committee take a stand,” Reporters Without Borders added. “The IOC is clearly not a political tool but it is the guarantor of the Olympic spirit and it cannot continue to display such passivity in the face of these flagrant violations of a people’s basic rights. Going further down this road would end up signifying a degree of complicity with the Chinese government.”
Around 100 journalists, Internet users and cyber-dissidents are currently imprisoned in China just for expressing their views peacefully. Journalists have been banned from visiting Tibet since 12 March and have been expelled from neighbouring provinces. The crackdown on protests by Tibetans is taking place behind closed doors.
Chinese journalists continue to be subject to the dictates of the Publicity Department (the former Propaganda Department), which imposes censorship on a wide range of subjects. The government and party continue to control news and information and have authoritarian laws to punish violators.
Charges of subversion, disseminating state secrets or spying are often brought against journalists and cyber-dissidents. Self-censorship is the rule in news organisations. Independent Chinese-language media based abroad are blocked, harassed or jammed, preventing the emergence of diversity in news and information.
Crackdown in Tibet away from the eye of the media