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May 14, 2007 | by  | in Opinion |
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Human Rights in China

Edmund Burke once said, “for evil to triumph it is necessary only for good people to do nothing”. Take human rights atrocities for example. Many occur here in New Zealand, in our neighbouring countries and daily throughout the world. Domestic violence, rape as a weapon of war, the death penalty and false imprisonment are just some of the abuses that occur. You may respond by saying, ‘so what – it’s not my responsibility. What can I do to help anyway? I’m just one person’. Well, the above quote really says it all; the smallest contribution can help, but no contribution at all could see the escalation of such abuses.

There are many ways to help in the fight against human rights abuses. Amnesty International is a global human rights organisation which promotes human rights and actively raises awareness of human rights abuses. It is infamous for its lobbying power as so much can be achieved through the united efforts of many individuals. Through urgent action letters, submissions, protests and general campaigning Amnesty International has succeeded in individual cases of human rights abuses and by making headway with large ongoing projects.

Currently one of Amnesty’s largest campaigns is ‘Human Rights in China’. China, one of the largest countries in the world, with a population of over 1.3 billion people is gaining strength as an economic power. It is hosting the Beijing Olympics in 2008, a prime opportunity to show off its magnificence. Yet behind this glorious visage is a hideous truth: China kills a higher proportion of its citizens than any other country, apart from Singapore. It carries out more than 84 per cent of the world’s total documented executions. Torture in the form of beatings, sleep deprivation and electric shocks is widespread. There is serious repression of spiritual and religious groups including Falun Gong, and many cases of journalists and bloggers being imprisoned. China’s labour rights are inadequate, with workers suffering in inhumane working conditions. There is high corruption in China’s judicial system with an estimated 250,000 people currently detained without trial. If there is a trial, most are held privately, verdicts are often decided before trial and there is no appeal system. Mass human rights abuses of this scale are simply atrocious and unacceptable.

To let such abuses be ignored, to carry on buying goods ‘made in China’, and to admire the gymnasts at the Beijing Olympics next year without making any form of contribution to the effort to encourage China to amend its ways, will allow evil to triumph.

The question is how can you as a university student with limited time and money help this cause? The answer is simpler than you think. Amnesty International’s National Lion Declaration tour is coming to the quad on May 21 and all you have to do is sign the associated petition which will show your disapproval of the state of human rights in China. This large petition will then be handed to the Chinese Embassy. Don’t just let atrocities happen; let’s work together to do something about it.

Amnesty International is an easy organisation to join and we have a university group here at Vic. We meet on Tuesdays at 10am in the Student Union Building, however feel free to e-mail us at vicuni@amnesty.org.nz anytime.

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