China's Foreign Ministry has rejected an Amnesty International report that accused Beijing of not living up to promises to improve human rights for the 2008 Olympics despite death penalty reforms and increased freedoms for foreign reporters.
The ministry released a statement yesterday that said the government was improving its legal system and promoting democracy: "We are conscientiously fulfilling our promise for the Olympics.
"The progress China has achieved in human rights cannot be slandered by a report from an individual organization with political prejudice," it said.
Amnesty's report, released yesterday, cataloged a wide range of continuing human-rights abuses, including extensive use of detention without trial by police, persecution of civil-rights activists and the use of new methods to rein in the domestic media and censor the Internet.
The report called on the International Olympic Committee to push Beijing more to improve its human rights record, especially on issues relating to the Olympics.
The report said if private discussions were not working, the "IOC should consider making these concerns public, especially with the Olympics little more than a year away."
The IOC said yesterday that it needed more time before commenting on the Amnesty report.
Andrew Nathan, chairman of Colombia University's political science department, said it wasn't a surprise that China hadn't lived up to its commitments since winning the bid.
He said the government had made a few "cosmetic changes," but generally they've been "tightening rather than liberalizing" rights restrictions.
Meanwhile, China is continuing to deny Canadian officials access to a Uighur-Canadian jailed earlier this month for terrorism, but Canada's foreign minister said yesterday that he had been told the man had not been mistreated.
Huseyin Celil was given a life sentence for "terrorist activities and plotting to split the country," state media said.
"I, of course, raised the case of Mr Celil and in particular expressed our deep disappointment that we have thus far been denied access to this Canadian citizen," Foreign Minister Peter MacKay told a news conference in Beijing.
MacKay said the Celil case had been one of the main talking points in a four-hour meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi (楊潔箎), adding that he was especially worried by allegations Celil had been tortured.
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