NEW YORK -- Journalists in Beijing covering the Olympic Games have found their Internet access restricted according to several major media reports, including those from the BBC and USA Today.
At a Tuesday news conference, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman, Liu Jianchao, admitted Falun Gong sites would remain blocked, while Sun Weide, the spokesperson for the Beijing Olympic Committee (BOCOG) attacked Falun Gong by stating that the traditional Chinese discipline "is an evil, fake religion which has been banned by the Chinese government."
"Labeling Falun Gong in this manner is done precisely to distort and misinform people as to the nature of Falun Gong, while also aiming to justify a nine-year brutal campaign waged by the Chinese regime to stamp out the practice," says Falun Dafa Information Center spokesman, Mr. Erping Zhang.
Since 2000, annual reports from Amnesty International (reports), the U.S. Department of State (reports) and others have documented severe abuses leveled at Falun Gong practitioners by the Chinese regime.
"Reneging on the promise to the IOC to allow journalists unrestricted access to the Internet," Mr. Zhang added, "is an even further step to hide the human rights abuses of this regime. We encourage journalists in Beijing to look into why Chinese officials don’t want you to see Falun Gong and other human rights-related websites. Perhaps therein lies the most compelling and tragic story behind the regime hosting the 2008 Olympics?"
The Falun Dafa Information Center is calling upon media in Beijing to not give a platform to the slanderous labels used by Chinese officials on Falun Gong without proper investigation into their merits or lack thereof.
The Center is also calling upon the IOC to reconsider the deal it reportedly struck with the BOCOG allowing Internet restrictions. In so far as these restrictions further Beijing’s agenda to cover up human rights abuses, to let them stand is irresponsible at best, complicit at worst.