Wed, Jul 30, 2008 - Page 1 News List

Beijing slams new Amnesty report on rights repression

AGENCIES , BEIJING

China yesterday defended its human rights record as it hit back at Amnesty International over charges that authorities were stepping up repression of dissidents ahead of the Beijing Olympics.

“Anybody who knows about China will not agree on this report on the deterioration of the Chinese human rights situation,” foreign ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao (劉建超) told reporters.

“We hope it [Amnesty] can take off the colored glasses it has worn for many years to see China in an objective way,” he said.

Amnesty released The Olympics Countdown: Broken Promises in Hong Kong yesterday, saying that Chinese authorities had stepped up repression of rights activists and lawyers to silence dissent and present a picture of social harmony at the Games.

Meanwhile, a Beijing activist who has campaigned for the rights of people evicted from their homes will go on trial just four days before the Games start, her lawyer said.

Ni Yulan (倪玉蘭), a 47-year-old former rights lawyer who was disbarred in 2002, will appear in the Beijing Xicheng Court on Monday, three months after she was detained by police, her lawyer said.

“I got an official notice from Xicheng court saying Ni will be tried on August 4 for ‘obstructing official business,’” he said yesterday.

The crime carries a maximum punishment of three years in jail.

Ni has spent most of this decade assisting victims of forced eviction in Beijing, many of whom lost their homes to make way for Olympic facilities. She previously spent a year in jail, and she is unable to walk without the aid of crutches because of past police mistreatment, rights advocates say.

In related news, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) will investigate apparent censorship of the Internet service provided for media covering the Olympics, press chief Kevan Gosper said yesterday.

China loosened its regulations governing foreign media in January last year. Despite these rules, which will expire in October, foreign media have complained of continuing harassment by officials.

Attempts to use the Internet network at the Main Press Center to access Amnesty’s Web site yesterday to view its new report were fruitless.

Gosper said the IOC would look into anything that interfered with reporters doing their jobs in reporting the Games.

Beijing’s Olympic organizers did get some good news yesterday. After days of hazy, dark skies that fueled concerns about pollution levels during the Olympics, wind and rain helped clear Beijing’s sky, leaving officials hopeful for blue skies when the Games start. The heavy haze was among the worst seen in Beijing in the past month.

Also see: EDITORIAL: China’s long row to hoe

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