“The current wave of repression occurring in China is not in spite of the Olympic Games, but because of the Olympics,” claims an April report from Amnesty International.
Entitled “People’s Republic of China – The Olympics Countdown: Crackdown on activists threatens Olympics legacy,” the report argues that the Beijing Olympics (due to start in August 2008) are a growing cause for concern in human rights’ circles.
Defenders of freedom of expression, journalists and human rights activists continue to be targeted by the Chinese authorities, claims the report. Moreover, censorship and tight control of information are common practices and those who criticise the government may face prosecution and imprisonment, the human rights’ watchdog asserts.
As the Games draw nearer, protests against the communist government have multiplied, reveals the report. Meanwhile, the authorities’ “clean up” of “undesirables” and control of the media has intensified in a bid to muffle the voices of demonstrators during the Olympics, claims the report.
Amnesty International also claims that the Chinese authorities have drawn up lists of foreign NGOs and activists likely to demonstrate. In addition, athletes’ contracts prevent them from commenting on “politically sensitive issues,” the report says.
The Chinese authorities’ attempts to restrict athletes’ freedom of expression are being strongly contested by the British Olympic Association (BOA). Despite the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) assertion that “the Games can act as a catalyst and contribute to the opening of a society,” the watchdog concludes that for the time being, they have failed to lead to substantial reform in China.
Amid current human rights violations, Amnesty International further urges the international community, and in particular the IOC and national governments, to adopt a stronger position on the issue in order to bring an end to the “abuses” being perpetrated by the Chinese authorities.