Chinese Rights Advocate Jailed

Hu Jia, an outspoken human rights advocate and political dissident, was just thrown in jail by the Chinese government for thought crimes.

A Chinese court on Thursday sentenced an outspoken human rights advocate to three and a half years in prison after ruling that his critical essays and comments about Communist Party rule amounted to inciting subversion, his lawyer said.

The conviction of the advocate, Hu Jia, 34, one of the most prominent human rights activists in China, quickly brought outside criticism of China at a time when the government is already facing international concern over its handling of the Tibetan crisis.

Mr. Hu’s case has been followed closely, especially in Europe, and critics say his conviction is part of a government crackdown to silence dissidents before Beijing plays host to the Olympic Games in August.

But I was told that the Olympics would change China and there would be human rights improvements! I’m not sure I want to live in a world where the International Olympic Committee’s fearless leader Jacques Rogge is proven wrong in such public and repeated fashion! What will I tell the children?

China has made no attempt to hide their crackdown on dissidents, human rights advocates, the press, bloggers, Uighurs, and, most visibly, Tibetans over the last year plus. In every instance, people like my former colleagues at Students for a Free Tibet or organizations like Human Rights in China or Reporters Without Borders or the EFF have stood up and said that China is not upholding its end of the Olympic bargain. And still, nothing has been done. Not when Tibetans are murdered. Not when journalists are expelled. Not when dissidents are thrown in jail for thought crimes.

Jacques Rogge and the IOC made sure that the Beijing Olympics were a political event when they made improved human rights and press freedoms an expectation that came with hosting the Games. Yet every time outside organizations and governments step forward and point out that China has abusing human rights and not respecting press freedoms, Rogge pleads irrelevance. But at some point, Rogge, the IOC, and the world on whole must recognize that China’s totalitarian government precludes it from being treated as an equal member on the world stage. A booming economy has not been accompanied by international human rights standards. And an ornate Olympic Games, complete with billions watching on TV, will clearly do nothing to signify China’s progress as a nation. Not when everything that proceeded the August 8th festivities was defined by a reduction in freedom and a loss of life as the PRC tried to present the aura of stability for the outside world by crush dissent wherever it appeared.

These Games are a joke, but I only see the Chinese government laughing as the continue to use authoritarian tactics to stifle dissent with the implicit approval by the IOC.

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