“Songs for Tibet” Banned in China

So, China has blocked the Songs for Tibet album from being downloaded in China, first blocking the whole iTunes site, then just the Songs for Tibet page (also blocked on Amazon.com’s mp3 page).  It seems Chinese authorities got wind of the fact 40 American athletes downloaded the album while in China for the Olympics.


According to an article on china.org.cn (which the San Francisco Chronicle reports is run by the Chinese government’s Internet Information Center) “netizens” are “incensed over [the] Tibet album on iTunes.”  Not surprisingly, they are rather vague about specifics of these mythical netizens, trying to intimidate the musicians such as Dave Matthews and Sting with threats that they will be banned from entering China, along with threats to boycott all Apple products.

China, of course, has been engaged in internet censorship for some time.   Chinese journalist and poet Shi Tao remains in prison since 2004 for sending an e-mail through his Yahoo! account (who gave up his identity) to an American democracy group about a memo from Chinese authorities telling journalists to downplay the then upcoming 15th anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen Square crack down.

China and the International Olympic Committee had agreed that human rights would improve, including freedom of the press and the end of censorship when China made their bid for the Olympics. As Amnesty International noted in their recent press release, China has not lived up to their human rights promises and have tainted the Olympic legacy.

“The Beijing Olympics have been a spectacular sporting event but they took place against a backdrop of human rights violations, with activists prevented from expressing their views peacefully and many in detention when they have committed no crime,” said Roseann Rife, Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific Deputy Program Director in Hong Kong. “The Chinese authorities and the IOC had an opportunity to demonstrate human rights improvements but in most respects they failed to deliver. Forced evictions, detention of activists and restrictions on journalists should not blight another Olympics.”

While China set up “protest zones,” they accepted none of the 77 applications (74 were withdrawn, two suspended, one vetoed) and people who applied were assigned to “re-education through labor.”

“It is high time for the IOC to put its core values of “human dignity” and “universal, fundamental ethical principles” into practice by making human rights a new pillar of the Olympic Games,” said Rife. Amnesty International called on the IOC to learn the lessons from Beijing by building concrete and measurable human rights impact indicators into all future Olympics bid processes and host city contracts.


Among those punished by China during the Olympics:


• Two elderly women, Wu Dianyuan (aged 79) and Wang Xiuying (aged 77), were accused of “disturbing public order” and assigned to one year of RTL after they applied to demonstrate in one of the official protest zones. They had been petitioning the authorities since 2001, when they were evicted from their homes to make way for a development project. Beijing city officials ruled that they would not have to serve their time in an RTL facility as long as they ‘behaved’, but that restrictions would be placed on their movements.


Read more about the China Olympic Legacy and take action on Amnesty’s website.