By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
With the opening of the Beijing Olympics only days away, the U.S. House passed a resolution calling on the Chinese Government to end human rights abuses in order to ensure that that 2008 Olympic Games can take place in an atmosphere honoring the Olympic traditions of freedom and openness.
House Resolution 1370, introduced by Congressman Howard Berman (D-CA), passed by a vote of 419 to 1. It calls on the Government of the People’s Republic of China to immediately end abuses of the human rights of its citizens, to cease repression of Tibetan and Uighur citizens, and to end its support for the Governments of Sudan and Burma.
The resolution also calls on the government to honor its commitment to freedom of the press and to allow all visitors to China during the Olympic Games to enjoy freedom of movement, including access to Tibet, without restriction or the need for special permits.
In addition, it calls on China to immediately release all people who have been imprisoned or detained for nonviolently exercising their political and religious rights and their rights to free expression.
An amendment specifically addressing China’s brutally enforced one-child policy was introduced by Congressman Chris Smith (R-NJ) and was included in the final version of the resolution.
“For so many brave Chinese men and women, for the Tibetans, many of them Buddhist monks and nuns, for members of Falun Gong, Chinese Christians, Uighur Muslims, democracy and labor activists, and others, this has been a terrible summer not in spite of, but precisely because of the Olympic Games,” said Smith, a lead Republican cosponsor of the bill.
“In recent months, the Chinese Government has been filling its jails, watching, intimidating, house arresting and warning all known dissidents.
Smith who had his own trip to China disrupted earlier this month when several Chinese human rights lawyers were detained by the Chinese police when they attempted to meet with Smith and Rep. Frank Wolf.
“Tragically, but predictably, the Olympics have been the occasion of a massive crackdown designed to silence and put beyond reach all those Chinese whose views differ from the government line,” said Smith .
Smith’s harshest comments were focused on the Chinese government’s one-child policy.
“China’s coercive population control program has imposed unspeakable violence, pain and humiliation on hundreds of millions of Chinese women, many of whom suffer lifelong depression as a consequence. Massively violated by the state, it is no wonder more women commit suicide in China than anywhere else in the world,” said Smith who held more than 25 hearings on human rights abuses in China as chairman of House human rights committees.
“As a direct result of the government’s one child policy, tens of millions of girls are missing today—dead due to sex selection abortions—creating a huge gender disparity. The lost girls of China is gendercide,” he said.
“With its heavy reliance on forced abortion, involuntary sterilization and ruinous fines for illegal children, the policy, in effect since 1979, constitutes one of the greatest continuous crimes against humanity in human history.”
The lone voice against the Resolution came from former presidential candidate Congressman Ron Paul (R-TX) who called the resolution “another meaningless and provocative condemnation of China” and said the U.S. should pay attention to its own human rights abuses in Iraq and Guantanamo Bay before lecturing the Chinese.
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