One hundred days before the opening of the Beijing Olympics in August, Amnesty International (AI) members around the world gathered to remind the Chinese government of the commitment they made during the bidding process for the Olympics that the human rights situation in China would improve. Amnesty International Philippines (AIPh) called upon the Chinese authorities that while the Olympic Torch, symbolizing hope and courage, is being carried on to different nations, their government should also carry on with their commitment to take positive steps in order to provide a human rights future for China.
“AI Philippines, together with our networks, is appealing to the Chinese government to ensure the improvement of the human rights situation in the country. By stopping all executions, providing fair trials for all, respecting the rights of human rights defenders and ending warrantless censorship of the internet and freedom of expression, China will be able to live up to its promises.” Said Dr. Aurora A. Parong, AIPh Section Director.
In line with the Olympics principles of preserving human dignity, China must also reduce the number of capital offenses, publish statistics of executions and provide access and information to families and lawyers of those sentenced to death. Ensuring fair trials for all should also include ending all arbitrary police detention. Human rights defenders should be allowed to freely carry out legitimate activities without harassment, intimidation or imprisonment. And for journalists and activists to enjoy full media freedom, China should ensure that no one is arrested or tried for enjoying this right and that all those detained for the legitimate use of the internet be released.
AI Philippines also appealed to the Philippine Olympic Delegation to promote human rights in China. The AIPh director said that the Olympic Charter speaks of “respect for universal fundamental ethical principles” and therefore Olympism encourages values of human rights among all athletes of diverse nations competing in the Beijing Olympics.
“The best in sports must also be promoters of human rights. I am urging not only the Filipino athletes but political leaders as well to publicly raise concerns about human rights issues in China. The Philippines has abolished the death penalty, thus, the Philippines is in a high moral ground to convince its neighbor China to have a moratorium on the death penalty towards complete abolition of executions.” She added.
Though AI is actively calling for China to fulfill its promises, the movement is not calling for a boycott of the Olympics. Equally, AI is not calling for the Torch Relay to skip Tibetan areas of China. “We appeal for China to let human rights bloom in the country. This can only be possible if the Chinese authorities choose to do so, thus our campaign message – ‘Legacy of the Beijing Olympics: China’s Choice’. And today, we hand-over the Torch of Hope for Human Rights to the Chinese Embassy officials hoping that China will make a choice and let human rights be the legacy of the Beijing Olympics.” Dr. Parong concluded.