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Amnesty International Says China's Repression Worsening Ahead of Olympics

The London-based human rights group Amnesty International says repression is worsening in China ahead of the Olympic games that Beijing is preparing to host next year. VOA's Luis Ramirez reports from the Chinese capital.

The world's spotlight in 2008 will be on China, which will be hosting next year's Olympic Games, and the communist government has promised to improve human rights in order to present a good image.

Amnesty International's report - released Monday - accuses China of not living up to that promise. The report says the group is especially concerned about the treatment of people who were forcibly evicted from their homes in Beijing to make room for Olympic venues.

Amnesty International's China researcher, Mark Allison, tells VOA the group is also worried about the large number of dissidents who remain under house arrest. Allison says the government's zeal to present an image of stability and cleanliness is resulting in abuses not only against high-profile political dissidents, but also against petty criminals.

"The Chinese authorities are extending many abusive systems," he said. "For example, the use of re-education through labor. And also, more recently, the use of another form of detention without trial in order to try to get drug addicts to give up their addictions in time for the Olympics."

China this year relaxed restrictions on foreign journalists, and has announced changes to its death penalty system, which results in the largest number of executions anywhere in the world.

However, Amnesty says Chinese authorities have not gone far enough, and they want the International Olympic Committee to raise the matter of human rights with Beijing.

Prospects for that are dim.

On a visit to Beijing last week, IOC President Jacques Rogge said he believes the games will have a positive and lasting effect on Chinese society. However, IOC officials also said they are not in a position to give instructions to governments as to how they ought to behave.

China on Monday rejected the Amnesty report. In a statement faxed to news organizations, the Foreign Ministry said the government is "conscientiously implementing" the promises it made when Beijing won the right to host the Olympics.

The statement said reports "colored by ulterior political motives" would "not succeed in slandering China's progress on human rights."