Olympic Watch: human rights in China and the Beijing 2008 Olympics OLYMPIC WATCHOLYMPIC WATCH


OW and AI: Czech Republic must not remain silent on human rights abuses in China

Prague, December 7, 2005 – A coalition of five NGOs has requested by letters to President Klaus and Prime Minister Paroubek that they use their meetings with Chinese premier Wen to discuss human rights, which are seriously violated in China. The letter has been signed by leaders of Olympic Watch, Amnesty International Czech Republic, the Confederation of Political Prisoners of the Czech Republic, the People in Need Foundation, and the Lungta association.

Premier Wen Jiabao is to visit the Czech Republic on December 8-9. “Czech politicians should discuss human rights issues with the Chinese side, just as other democratic countries do. Otherwise, they will tacitly endorse the human rights violations,” said Martin Kryl, chairman of Amnesty International Czech Republic.

“Our country, with its experience of totalitarianism, has a natural moral duty to support the rights and liberties of oppressed people elsewhere in the world,” said Jan Ruml, chairman of Olympic Watch. “One must not try to profiteer from a country that violates human rights and liberties. It is below our dignity to kowtow to a totalitarian regime again for dubious economic advantages.”

Olympic Watch and Amnesty International have welcomed that China has included a clause on the protection of human rights in its constitution in 2004. Still, human rights continue to be violated on a massive scale: there is evidence of widespread arbitrary detentions in labor camps, freedom of expression and association is severely violated, as are the rights of religious and ethnic minorities. China continues to execute more people than the rest of the world combined, with at least 3,400 people executed in 2004, frequently without fair trials.

Human rights are being violated even in the preparation of the 2008 Olympic Games – thousands of Beijing residents have been unlawfully and often violently evicted from their homes. Severe suppression of political rights, the freedom of speech and exchange of information, including the censorship of the internet aides the high level of corruption and bureaucracy, which in turn limits the opportunities for business success, something the Czech government is very much interested in.

"If the Czech Republic wants to maintain its trustworthiness, it must not ignore the other side of the Chinese economic growth – lawlessness. Czech politicians must clearly state, during their private meetings and publicly, that it is not possible in the modern world to detain those who legitimately claim their human rights. If they do not do so, they will miss a unique opportunity to help the respect for human rights and liberties in the world,” said Martin Kryl.

“Our politicians should not let the other party single-handedly dictate the topics of discussion, as has sadly been the case during their trips to Beijing. They should confidently assert the policies of our country, which includes the respect for human rights and fair business practices,” said Petr Kutilek, executive secretary of Olympic Watch.

At today’s news conference, the organizations published the letter sent yesterday to President Klaus and Prime Minister Paroubek. The letter briefly summarizes the human rights situation in China and asks the Czech top representatives to inquire through question about recent developments. Specifically, it mentions the ratification of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the use of the death penalty, torture, and the situation of political prisoners. Five specific cases are attached.

“We have suggested the form of questions because on previous occasions, Czech politicians said that they cannot preach to their Chinese counterparts. However, we believe that as equal, confident partners they certainly can ask questions about these serious issues that have for a long time troubled the relations between the PRC and the Czech Republic and other democratic countries,” said Petr Kutilek.

Amnesty International (AI) is a worldwide movement of people who campaign for internationally recognized human rights.

The mission of Olympic Watch is to monitor the human rights situation in the People’s Republic of China in the run-up to the 2008 Olympic Games and to campaign to achieve positive change in the lives of the people of China.

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