Reporters Sans Frontieres bids to stop Beijing Games


Press freedom organisation Reporters Sans Fronti?res is to oppose Beijing’s bid to host the 2008 Olympic Games.

The organisation has joined human rights groups Solidarity China and the Committee for the Support of Tibetan People to call on the International Olympic Committee to reject China as the host nation for the games when it makes its final decision in Moscow on 13 July.

Citing human rights abuses, escalating execution rates under the Chinese Government’s anti-crime campaign, imprisonment of political opponents and the use of torture and police brutality, a Reporters Sans Fronti?res report states: "There are enough democratic countries in the world that could host the Olympics; there is no need to grant to one of the last and harshest dictatorships in the world the right to host the most prestigious sporting event."

The report – sent to the 123 members of the International Olympic Committee – also highlights the problems foreign journalists could face reporting the games and the impact their presence could have once the world’s eyes are turned on Beijing.

Following the protest earlier this year when three members of the repressed Falun Gong movement set fire to themselves in Tiananmen Square, the RSF believes "this type of incident will multiply as soon as foreign journalists and spectators arrive in Beijing".

"Other social, ethnic, religious and political groups will use the flood of journalists to attract attention to their causes and demands," the report said.

"Since the Government controls all the media, and demonstrations are illegal, this will be the only chance for these groups to have their voices heard around the world."

The report also argues that it would be difficult for journalists reporting on the Olympic Games to do their jobs when "the police are constantly on their backs".

At least 13 Chinese journalists are known to be in prison for highlighting corruption or human rights issues and dozens of foreign journalists are questioned by the authorities each year for not following official orders.

"These interrogations and threats may create insurmountable tension among the thousands of foreign journalists and the organisers," the report says.

Claiming that it would be "unacceptable, even dangerous" to allow the games to be staged in China, the report claims that that during the US spy plane crisis, the Chinese Government had used the state-run media to incite patriotism and anti-Western sentiment.

With the prospect of the nationalist Hu Jintao succeeding Jiang Zemin and leading the country further towards a nationalistic dictatorship, the report says: "The Olympics would be a perfect opportunity for the Communist Party to indoctrinate its people with aggressive ideology".

By Julie Tomlin

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