China chokes on its promises (and 42 days in the Lords)

Beijing is failing to honour the promises it made when bidding for the Olympics in 2001, says the BBC, that air quality would meet World Health Organisation standards. The beeb has done its own (scientific?) tests using a hand-held monitor on the streets of Beijing, and on six days out of seven the pollution’s been higher than it should be.

But what about the Chinese authorities’ other promises? In 2001 Wang Wei, Secretary General of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games Bid Committee, said ‘We are confident that the Games coming to China not only promotes our economy but also enhances all social conditions, including education, health and human rights.’ But human rights haven’t been ‘enhanced’ – quite the opposite, if anything.

Today our Secretrary general Irene Khan published an open letter to Chinese president Hu Jintao, calling on him to take five steps towards human rights.

You can read the full letter here but in summary the five steps are: (1) releasing all prisoners of conscience; (2) preventing arbitrary detention of protesters and others as part of an 'Olympics clean-up'; (3) publishing national statistics on executions, reducing the number of capital offences and introducing a moratorium on executions; (4) allowing free access and reporting to both Chinese and domestic journalists; and (5) accounting for those killed and detained in the recent Tibetan protests and ensuring that those still held are given a fair trial or are released.

We’ve also released another one of our fabulous animated viral films today – have a look here.

Finally, a quick 42 days round-up as the Lords debate the Counter-terrorism Bill today. The Independent carries a story that Lords Goldsmith and Falconer will lead a “devastating assault” on 42 days in the Lords today. Meanwhile Lord Ahmed is blogging on the Telegraph site (as I mentioned last night) about his own reasons for opposing the Bill. Meanwhile the Guardian’s Comment is Free continues its excellent ‘What liberty means to me’ series with Shami Chakrabati and (coming soon) our own Irene Khan; and Bob Geldof piles on the rhetoric in favour of civil liberties on David Davis’s site.

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Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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