Amnesty rights report won't stop minister's Olympic travel

Peter Vinthagen Simpson
Peter Vinthagen Simpson - [email protected] • 31 Jul, 2008 Updated Thu 31 Jul 2008 16:50 CEST
Amnesty rights report won't stop minister's Olympic travel

The Swedish culture minister Lena Adelsohn Liljeroth has decided not to amend plans to travel to Beijing and the Olympic opening ceremony despite a new report from Amnesty damning China's human rights record.


"No, but it does overshadow my trip," she said to news agency TT.

The culture minister plans to travel to Beijing next Wednesday to attend the inauguration of the Olympic village and the opening ceremony next Friday.

Meanwhile a new report recently published by Amnesty International has painted a damning picture of human rights abuses in China. The situation has become worse in the run up to the Olympics, Amnesty reports.

The Chinese regime is using the Olympic games as an excuse for a range of injustices and has in certain cases intensified its policies which have led to serious and widespread abuses of human rights, according to the Amnesty report.

Neither the Amnesty report, nor the news that China has announced that it will censor the internet during the course of the games, has given the minister cause to change her stance on attending the opening of the games.

"That is unacceptable. But many positive things have also happened, despite everything," Adelsohn Lijleroth said.

Reports in Svenska Dagbladet on Thursday revealed that the Chinese government sought and received agreement from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to censor sites on the internet.

"That sounds very odd. It would be extremely surprising if the IOC had made such an agreement," said the culture minister.

IOC spokesperson Kevan Gosper has however confirmed the reports, saying that the parties have agreed that China may censor some "sensitive" sites. Gosper explained that the sites were not related to the Olympics.

As the build up to the Olympic Games enters its final week the Swedish Olympic Committee (SOK) has not been spared criticism from global human rights watchdog, Amnesty.

A report in Sydsvenska Dagbladet on Wednesday also revealed that the Swedish and Sudanese athletics teams share the same sponsor - Chinese sports clothing manufacturer Li Ning.

China is Sudan's major customer of oil and in return supplies a large quantity of weapons to the north-east African country.

Maria Granefelt with the Swedish chapter of Amnesty criticized the SOK for not addressing the issue of sponsorship and human rights in connection with the Beijing Olympics.

The newspaper asked Annika Runström at the SOK if she considered it a problem that the Swedish team shared their Olympic partner with a country whose leader, Omar Hassan al-Bashir, has been indicted for war crimes by the International Court in the Haag.

"I don't want to do an interview with you about politics. If you want to go into the political aspects then I do not wish to comment," Runström said to Sydsvenska Dagbladet.

The Chinese regime argues that their involvement in Sudan is contributing to establishing peace and prosperity in the war-torn country.

Chinese company Li Ning is China's largest sport clothing brand with 3,500 stores across the country. Aside from sponsoring the Swedish athletics team they will also be backing Argentinian, Spanish, US and Chinese teams in the Olympic games.

The opening ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games will take place on August 8th.


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