April 30, 2007 in Nation/World

China accused of false ‘cleanup’

Maureen Fan Washington Post
 

In the spotlight

The games are expected to attract 500,000 visitors, including thousands of journalists.

BEIJING – The 2008 Olympic Games have become a catalyst for more repression in China, not less, according to an Amnesty International report released Sunday aimed at pressuring the Beijing government a year before the start of the world’s premier sporting event.

The 22-page report says China’s illegal detention and imprisonment of activists and other measures have overshadowed some modest reforms.

To win its first Olympics bid, China promised in 2001 to improve human rights, increase environmental protections and address the city’s traffic problems. The games are expected to attract 500,000 visitors, including thousands of journalists, giving China a chance to showcase itself.

Chinese authorities have been using the Olympics to round up those they consider potential troublemakers, including human rights defenders, housing activists, lawyers and people attempting to report on human rights violations, the Amnesty report said.

Referring to the warnings of public-security officials that they might force drug users into yearlong rehabilitation programs, the Amnesty report said, “Fears remain that these abusive systems are being used to detain petty criminals, vagrants, drug addicts and others in order to ‘clean up’ Beijing ahead of the Olympics.”

The report welcomed one official reform – the restoration of Supreme Court review of death penalty cases. But Amnesty said it worried that a “limited paper review” would not expose human rights violations such as police use of torture to obtain confessions.


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