CHINA: SPIRIT OF OLYMPICS SHOULD NOT BE BETRAYED

Richard Bunting, Director of Communications at Amnesty International UK, said:

'It is a terrible irony that as the Chinese authorities have campaigned to host the 2008 Olympics, repression and injustice have escalated in the country. Political imprisonment, torture and a frenzy of executions fly in the face of the Olympic Charter's principles of the preservation of human dignity and respect for universal fundamental ethical principles.

'These abuses will now be in the global spotlight until and during the 2008 Games. Failure to end them will guarantee the Chinese authorities seven years of international condemnation and embarrassment.'

The International Olympic Committee should obtain iron-clad assurances from the Chinese government that people will not be rounded up and detained each time its officials visit Beijing, and should monitor how China respects the ethical principles enshrined in the Olympic Charter.

In the last three months the Chinese authorities have executed more people than the rest of the world put together for the last three years. Over 1700 people have been put to death; many are likely to have been tortured to confess to crimes they did not commit and few would have received a fair trial. Mass rallies and sentencing have not taken place on this scale for many years.

Ironically, sports stadiums were the last places where many of the condemned were taken, to be subjected to ritual public humiliation in front of large crowds just before being executed.

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