Friday 1 August 2008
Olympics: Web sites unblocked but still no freedom of expression
"We welcome the news today that the authorities have lifted blocks on our
website in the Olympics media venues and possibly elsewhere in :place :City
Beijing ," said Roseanne Rife, Deputy Director for The Asia-Pacific Program
at Amnesty International.
"However, arbitrary blocking and unblocking of certain sites does not
fulfill the duty to comply with international standards of freedom of
information and expression."
Beijing-based journalists have told Amnesty International that the
organization's website together with several others -- including those of
Human Rights Watch, Radio Free Asia and the BBC Chinese language service --
have now been unblocked in the Olympics media venues. Some reports suggest
that they are also accessible in other parts of :place :City Beijing ,
although availability appears to be inconsistent.
Other websites which cover human rights or political issues remain blocked.
They include another website set up by Amnesty International to encourage
debate about China 's human rights record in the run-up to the Games
"Like the rest of the world, Chinese citizens have a right to access
information and to express themselves on-line on all areas of legitimate
public inquiry, including human rights. We continue to urge the authorities
to ensure unfettered access to the Internet in line with official Olympic
promises of 'complete media freedom' and international human rights
standards," said Roseanne Rife.
The Chinese authorities have imprisoned several Chinese journalists for
posting or accessing information on the web deemed politically sensitive.
They include Shim Taos, who continues to serve a ten-year prison sentence
for sending an email to an overseas website about official instructions to
journalists on how to cover the 15th anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen
crackdown in :City :place Beijing .
Amnesty International also noted that the Chinese authorities' decision to
unblock some websites appeared to be prompted by the expression of strong
public concern over the issue, including from the International Olympics
Committee (INC) who only days previously had allowed the Chinese authorities
to maintain blocks on certain sites.
"Where silent diplomacy on human rights fails, strong public pressure can
clearly have an effect," said Roseanne Rife. "We continue to urge the INC
and world leaders planning to attend the Games to speak out for human rights
and on behalf of Chinese human rights activists who have effectively been
Love, rage, fire and flames,
Maria Edilyd P. Orias
Media, Communication and Publications
Mobile nos. +639178858634
Amnesty International Philippines