LONDON, April 6, 2008 – Peter
Tatchell, the gay human rights campaigner, was detained by police this
afternoon in London as the Olympic torch was controversially paraded through
the capital on its way to Beijing. He was held for a short time before
being released with a warning.
Mr. Tatchell was protesting the
arrest and imprisonment last week of Chinese human rights activist Hu Jia,
an Aids activist working in China’s gay community and beyond, who was
convicted for ‘inciting subversion of state power’ by the Beijing Municipal
No 1 Intermediate People’s Court and sentenced to three and a half years
Hu Jia also campaigned for
free speech, Tibetan autonomy, environmental protection, and for the human
rights of the rural poor.
It was in Oxford Street outside
Selfridges that Mr. Tatchell jumped in front of the slow-moving VIP bus
accompanying the torch.
He jumped into the road carrying a
placard: “Free Tibet; Free Hu Jia” – and shouting the same words.
Mr. Tatchell later pointed out to
reporters that the arrest of Hu Jia is proof “that
is not fulfilling its human rights commitments which were part of the deal
for them to get the Olympics”.
“At the very least, world leaders
should boycott the opening ceremony and athletes should wear Tibetan flags
when they go on the podium to receive their medals,” he suggested.
In a statement this evening, Mr.
“Hu Jia exposed the Chinese
government's cover up of the use of HIV contaminated blood, the lack of
support and care for people with HIV, and he challenged social prejudice and
discrimination against people with the virus.
"Hi Jia is a truly heroic figure,
who has shown immense foresight, determination and bravery. He has kept
campaigning, even though he knew it would put him at risk of arrest, torture
“In jail, Hu Jia is likely to be
mistreated, denied medical treatment for his hepatitis B infection and
starved of proper food.
“Gordon Brown has shamed himself
and Britain by greeting the Olympic torch at Downing Street, at a time when
China is shooting dead Tibetan protesters and jailing and torturing hundreds
of political prisoners,” added Mr Tatchell.
“It is hypocritical for the Prime
Minister to boycott the Zimbabwean regime, but not the dictatorial regime in
China. These double standards bring our government into disrepute.
“The UK should not be colluding
with a police state like China. Attempts to gently persuade the Beijing
leaders to stop their human rights abuses have failed. They are manipulating
the Olympics. We must not allow them to exploit the Beijing games to divert
attention from China’s abysmal human rights record.
“All countries that love freedom,
democracy and liberty should refuse to host the Olympic torch and boycott
the opening and closing ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics. Athletes should
wear Tibetan flags during their events and on the podium when they collect
“China should be subjected to
sporting protests in the same way that apartheid South Africa was subject to
“China is one the world's most
vicious anti-worker regimes. It has poor labour laws. Employees have little
protection against abuse. Independent trade unions are banned and their
“To make way for new cities,
millions of rural people have been forced off their land with little or no
compensation. China is free market state capitalism at its worst. The gap
between the rich and poor is one of the widest of any country on earth.
“The idea that China is any longer
a communist state is laughable. The Communist Party has become a new ruling
class and a route to personal advancement, corruption and wealth
“The Beijing leaders are new
emperors who ride roughshod over their own people. They have almost total
power and they abuse it to oppress and exploit the Chinese nation, in ways
that are often similar to the old feudal and colonial powers of the
nineteenth century,” the statement concluded.
of Human Rights Activist Betrays China's Olympic Promises – Amnesty.
Amnesty International reacted angrily to today’s news that a human rights
defender has been sentenced to three and a half years imprisonment and one
year political rights deprivation in China. (UK Gay News, April 3, 2008)
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Creative Commons Licence.
Posted: 6 April 2008 at
17:00 (UK time)