Beijing 2008: Reporters and bloggers face threats

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Reporters Without Borders: Beijing 2008Sadly, the whole idea of giving the Olympic Games to China in order to get the government to respects human and media rights more has turned out to be a complete and utter failure. Without much commenting on my behalf, let me point out just some of the recent findings of human rights organizations.

Amnesty International (ai) just published their report “Chinese Authorities’ Broken Promises Threaten Olympic Legacy” in which they state:

In the run-up to the Olympics, the Chinese authorities have locked up, put under house arrest and forcibly removed individuals they believe may threaten the image of “stability” and “harmony” they want to present to the world.

Internet censorships continues, even in the confined Olympic media center:

Reports have just confirmed that foreign journalists working from the Olympics press centre in Beijing are unable to access amnesty.org, the Amnesty International website. In addition, The China Debate, a site recently launched by Amnesty International as a forum to discuss human rights has been blocked in China. A number of other websites are also reported to have been blocked, including Taiwan newspaper Liberty Times and the Chinese versions of both Germany’s Deutsche Welle and the BBC. This flies in the face of official promises to ensure “complete media freedom” for the Games. Internet control and censorship is increasing as the Olympics approach. Many other sites, including several reporting on HIV/AIDS issues in Beijing, have been targeted.

What’s more, reporters and activists (including, I suspect, bloggers) face legal and other threats:

Amnesty International believes that local activists and journalists working on human rights issues in China are at particular risk of abuse during the Games.

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) confirms this situation:

Chinese authorities deleted an Internet link to an article that appeared on 17 July 2008 in the prominent Chinese newspaper Xinjingbao (Beijing News) of an interview with a US photographer of Hong Kong origin, Liu Xiangcheng, who worked in China during the 1980s. They acted over a small photo showing men with bullet wounds following the 1989 military crackdown against the Tiananmen Square uprising. (…) The Hong Kong newspaper Ming Pao reported that the authorities also immediately demanded the removal of the newspaper from newsstands and censorship of the article online. The same source said that several staff on the paper, the editor and the journalist, were facing legal proceedings.

RSF calls for a boycott of the games (PDF). Amnesty International takes a slightly different approach. In cooperation with, as far as I can tell, New Zealand students, they organize the Freedom Challenge 08 in which so-called freedom teams rally support for human rights in China.

Do you know of any valid, up-to-date information sources on the situation for bloggers in China these days?

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