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The proverbial broken promise

“If you survive death, big fortune will follow,” one of the passengers on board the plane that crashed at Heathrow yesterday was quoted in the Daily Mail as saying.

There were several Chinese faces among the passengers as the plane had just flown from Beijing - coincidentally, the destination of Gordon Brown, whose flight was delayed by the accident (if the Daily Mirror is to be believed, the jet came close to killing the PM in his car as it zoomed in just yards above his black Jaguar).

One can only hope that the PM used his hour’s delay to contemplate how he might bring up China’s human rights record during his visit. According to the Independent, which devotes two pages to Brown’s visit, the PM will “raise human rights in a general sense” during his two days of talks with Chinese leaders.

Amnesty sent him a briefing outlining concerns over the use of the death penalty, justice and detention, persecution of people who stand up for human rights and freedom of expression, including on the Internet. One of the individual cases we’ve been raising is that of journalist and poet Shi Tao, who is serving a ten year prison sentence for sending an email to a US website from his Yahoo! account describing the Chinese government’s instructions to Chinese journalists on how to cover the 15th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown.

We’re campaigning for the Beijing Olympics to leave a lasting legacy of improvements in human rights for China.

In doing so, we’re simply demanding that China lives up to the promises it made when it won the Games.Gordon Brown should live up to the promises he has made all of us to support human rights around the world. Remember his strong words at the Labour Party Conference, when he offered support to the people of Zimbabwe, Darfur and Burma? As well as being able to improve human rights within its own borders, China could help to end the horrendous abuses faced by the people of conflict-torn Darfur and the brutal repression that continues in Burma.

It’s vital that we keep this pressure on China in the coming months and use the Olympics to highlight what’s going on. As the Chinese proverb that inspired Amnesty’s famous logo has it: “Better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.”

About Amnesty UK Blogs
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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