Cartoon by: Albert Ashok
Article 19 speaks Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.
Article 51 of the Olympic Charter obliges the IOC to take "all necessary steps in order to ensure the fullest coverage by the different media and the widest possible audience in the world for the Olympic Games."
PEN American Centre and PEN Canada document deteriorating climate for free expression, call on government to live up to Olympic promises. Three International PEN centers give China a failing grade on free expression one month before the opening of the Beijing Olympic Games on August 8, 2008.
On August 14, 2008, the IOC spokesperson, Giselle Davies, ended months of IOC silence by saying that the committee "disapproved of any attempts to hinder a journalist who is going about doing his job seemingly within the rules and regulations." Over the past year, the IOC has been provided extensive documentation of such abuses, including physical assaults of journalists, but has not publicly spoken about the issue or challenged theChinese government.
"The IOC's public expression of concern is welcome, but it won't have any effect without real action," said Sophie Richardson, Asia advocacy director at Human Rights Watch. "The International Olympic Committee's failure to address this problem highlights the urgent need for mechanisms to prevent further abuses."Since the Games opened on August 8, foreign journalists in Beijing have told Human Rights Watch that surveillance and harassment by security personnel has intensified.
Human Rights Watch demanded to IOC:
- establish a 24-hour hotline in Beijing for foreign journalists to report violations during the course of the games;
- demand that the Chinese government investigate cases of arrests, detentions, and harassment of media and ensure that there will be no further abuses;
- publicly press the Chinese government to disclose the whereabouts of sources who have disappeared after giving interviews to foreign media; and
- investigate all incidents of abuse of foreign journalists and their sources and report on them publicly in China before the opening of the September Paralympics to help avert similar media freedom abuses.
PICTURE OF REPRESSION/TORTURE :
August 13: John Ray, a correspondent for Britain's ITN channel, was arrested as he reported on a small protest near the Bird's Nest Stadium. Ray said he was "bundled away, pushed to the floor and pinned down before being manhandled into the back of a police van." He suffered minor bruises.
August 12: While waiting in line to register at a police post outside Korla, Xinjiang province, an Associated Press journalist and photographer were approached by a policeman wearing a flak jacket and helmet. The policeman pushed the reporter, pointed his assault rifle at him, and declared: "This is Chinese territory. You have to obey the rules." After registering, the journalists returned to their vehicle and continued theirjourney.
On August 12, Zhang's son Mi Yu told the Associated Press that the district court had sentenced Zhang to a month in prison for "disturbing social order" in connection with a small protest Zhang took part in last week in Beijing's Qianmen district with around 20of her former neighbors.
Beijing police arrested Tang Xuecheng in early August when he applied for permission to protest local corruption in his native Hunan province, The Australian newspaper reported on August 12
August 11: British photographer Jack Hill of The Times newspaper was detained for seven hours in Kuqa, Xinjiang province, while trying to cover the aftermath of deadly bombings in the town. Police said that Hill's travel documents - a receipt for the ongoing renewal of his J-2 journalist visa, which immigration police in Beijing assured him would be acceptable to authorities - were inadequate. The Kuqa police threatened Hill with arrest if he attempted to leave the police station for his hotel. Hill was only released after a colleague asked at a Beijing news conference later that day about the justification for Hill's detention.
On August 11, 2008, Ji Sizun, 58, a self-described grassroots legal activist from Fujian province, was arrested. On August 8, Ji had applied to the Deshengmenwai police station in Beijing's Xicheng District for a permit to hold a protest in one of the city's three designated "protest zones." In his application, Ji stated that the protest would call for greater participation of Chinese citizens in political processes, and denounce rampant official corruption and abuses of power. He was arrested after checking back at the police station on the status of his application, witnesses told Human Rights Watch. Since then he has disappeared and remains unreachable on his mobile phone.
August 8: Police detained an Associated Press writer and photographer in Yining, Xinjiang province, for 45 minutes. Police forbade the journalists from using their cell phones, videotaped the two journalists, and deleted images from the photographer's camera.
August 7: The Chinese government denied an entry visa to Radio Free Asia Tibetan service broadcaster Dhondup Gonsar, a US citizen who had already been accredited to cover the Beijing Olympics.
August 7: Police manhandled foreign journalists who covered a small protest by American Christians in Beijing's Tiananmen Square and tried to take the reporters' microphones and notebooks.
On August 7, Zeng Jinyan, the wife of a high-profile human rights activist, ceased to communicate with friends and relatives. Her husband, Hu Jia, was jailed for three and a half years on April 3 on charges of "inciting subversion against the state"
August 6: "Angry and aggressive" uniformed police grabbed and briefly detained ESPN producer Arty Berko while he was attempting to photograph a protest banner erected near the Bird's Nest Olympic stadium in Beijing. After he was released by police, Berko said he was "physically accosted" by plainclothes onlookers apparently angered by his efforts to take photographs at the protest scene.
August 5: Paramilitary troops in Kashgar, Xinjiang province, physically attacked and injured Masami Kawakita, a photographer with the Tokyo Chunichi Sports newspaper, and Shinji Katsuta, a reporter with the Nippon Television Network, as they were attempting to cover the aftermath of the violence which killed 16 policemen in the city the previous day. The journalists' employers, along with the Kyodo news service and several witnesses, said the paramilitaries forcibly removed the two journalists from a public street, beat them and damaged their equipment.
August 4: A group of police and guards forcibly seized the camera of a Hong Kong-based journalist while he and a group of foreign journalists interviewed bystanders adjacent to the scene of a lethal attack earlier that day against border police in Kashgar, Xinjiang.
The virtual protesters are calling for the release of all Olympic prisoners. One such person is human rights attorney Gao Zhisheng. He is renowned for standing up for the likes of the poor, AIDS victims of bad blood, petitioners and Falun Gong. He was taken by Public Security Bureau police in November last year. Gao's family revealed in early August that the attorney spent two months suffering severe torture, including being beaten and having Chinese guards urinating on him.
For talking to foreign journalists more than 30 dissidents the list includes lawyers such as Teng Biao, Li Fangping and Zhang Xingshui; independent intellectuals, such as Liu Xiaobo and Liu Junning; house church activists, such as Zhang Mingxuan; housing rights activists, such as Ye Guozhu; rights activists, such as Li Baiguang and Qi Zhiyong; and relatives of political prisoners, including Yuan Weijing, the wife of blind legal activist Chen Guangcheng, and Jia Jianying, the wife of democracy activist He Depu. All have been warned explicitly by police or state security agents .
"The International Olympic Committee and world leaders who honored Beijing by attending the opening ceremonies shouldn't play deaf, dumb, and blind while people are hauled off for peaceful criticism," said Richardson. "China is suppressing free expression, despite its Olympic pledge not to do so, and the question is whether the rest of the world silently accepts that."
Another dissident is Hu Jia, again a Chinese human rights attorney, was last year imprisoned for 3.5 years, for “subversion” of the States power – the blanket charge used to jail dissidents. The day after the Olympics opening ceremony his wife, Zeng Jinyan, went missing and friends suspect that she has been detained by police.
Police detained five American activists after they unfurled a "free Tibet" banner near a main Olympics venue in Beijing.. The five protesters were taken away by security shortly before midnight for displaying the banner, which outlined "free Tibet" in English and Chinese with tiny blue diodes, near the Beijing National Stadium.
The group identified the activists as Amy Johnson, 33; Sam Corbin, 24; Liza Smith, 31; Jacob Blumenfeld, 26, and Lauren Valle, 21. Their whereabouts were unknown.
Earlier in the day, James Powderly, co-founder of Graffiti Research Lab in New York, was also detained as he prepared to use a handheld green laser to project messages on prominent structures in Beijing.
Powderly's colleague, Nathan Dorjee, said in New York that he received a text message from the artist which said he had been detained around 3 a.m. by police. "He was going to project a message that said, `Free Tibet,' and some other messages that would have been three-stories high in different locations in Beijing," Dorjee said.
Powderly is a well-known New York graffiti artist who projects laser beam "tag" messages onto iconic skyscrapers and other notable structures such as the Brooklyn Bridge. His messages are typically political and often promote freedom of speech and expression.
"The Chinese leadership must realize that the only way it can make the issue of Tibet disappear is to acknowledge the demands of the Tibetan people and work with them to bring an end to China's occupation of Tibet," said Tenzin Dorjee, Deputy Director of Students for a Free Tibet in a statement.
China maintains that the Himalayan region has been part of its territory for centuries, while many Tibetans insist they were an independent nation before communist troops invaded in 1950.
Reporters Without Borders condemns regional variation in the blocking of access to websites in China. The authorities unblocked the sites of certain international news media and NGOs on 1 August 2008 but many of these sites continue to be blocked in the province of Tibet.
"It is no surprise that websites focussing on the issue of Tibet are filtered. But it is unacceptable that Internet users in Tibet do not have access to the same content as Internet users in the rest of China, who are already subject to a significant degree of censorship."
Tsering Woeser, a Chinese writer of Tibetan origin, is often threatened by the Chinese authorities because of what she posts on her blog
( http://woeser.middle-way.net/ ).
She filed a complaint against the government on 23 July for preventing her from travelling abroad. She has been stripped of her rights as a citizen since 2004 on the grounds that she could "put the nation in danger."
Research shows over 50 websites blocked in Beijing and Olympic press center as Games began, including those of several freedom of expression organisations
The Chinese authorities are continuing to jam the Chinese, Tibetan and Uyghur-language broadcast of several international radio Stations. "An international media outcry forced the Chinese government to stop blocking access to websites, but there has been no similar gesture towards the international radio stations such as the BBC, Voice of America, Radio Free Asia and Voice of Tibet, which are being jammed within China,"
The Chinese authorities use eight broadcasts from six different points within China (Beijing, Xian, Urumqi, Kashi, Hainan and Fuzhou) to make Voice of Tibet inaudible. Around 100 antennae have been installed in Tibet to jam international radio
The Olympic motto is Citius, Altius, Fortius, which is Latin for "Faster, Higher, Stronger”. The Olympic charter also promotes peace and harmony, which remain illusive in China.
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