THE OLYMPIC PROMISE AND LABOUR STANDARDS IN CHINA:
Following China's successful bid for the 2008 Olympic Games both Chinese officials and International Olympic Games officials pledged that the games would be a catalyst for the improvement of human rights in China.
"By allowing Beijing to host the games you will help the development of human rights"
-Liu Jingmin, Vice President of the Beijing Olympic Games Bis Committee, April 2001
"It will help promote all economic and social projects and will also benefit the further development of our human rights cause"
-Liu Qi, former Beinjing Mayor and current president of the Organizing Committee for the Beinjing Olympic Games, 13 July 2001
"We are convinced that the Olympic Games will improve the human rights record in China"
-Jacques Rogge, president of the International Olympic Committee, April 2002.
The international community hoped that china's Olympic promise would end China's ongoing violation of fundamental human rights, including the use of forced labour, the denial of freedom of association and the denial of the right to collectively bargain. In particular, it was hoped that the significant number of labour activists who have been imprisoned for no other reason than trying to exercise basic workers' rights would be released.
CHINA'S BROKEN PROMISE:
What has really happened ? To date China has failed to live up to its Olympic promise. Basic workers' rights continue to be violated and labour activists continue to be imprisoned. A significant number of labour activists remain in prison for their peaceful actions to defend labour rights. Some of these have been in prison since the 1989 Tiananmen Square Massacre. In fact, ever since China's Olympic Promise to improve human rights, more labour activists have been detained. Some have had their sentences extended well past the next Olympics in 2012.
MAKE CHINA KEEP ITS PROMISE:
The ILHO, the Hong Kong Liason office of the international trade union movement has initiated an international campaign for emails to the President of China. They have also produced a set of downloadable pdf postcards if you wish to send your demand that China release detained labour activists by mail rather than email. To learn more about this campaign and to participate go to http://www.ihlo.org/prisoners/en .