I've been meaning to write to you about how upset I've been since reading about an explosion that happened in a small Chinese province, where the local government had been forcing young schoolchildren to assemble fireworks as unpaid slave labor. The families had complained to the local authorities for over three years but were ignored and turned away. Wanting their children to have at least some kind of education they continued to have them attend despite the forced labor. The third and fourth grade classrooms were assigned the task of inserting the fuses into the firecrackers. Many of the children were afraid but were forced to cooperate or face punishment including being forced to kneel all day on the floor and having their families pay large fines.
On Tuesday March 9th an explosion in Fanglin, China killed forty two people, most of them third and fourth graders. The government, in an effort to quell any bad press, quickly blocked off roads to and from the village and kept press away. They created an official story about a mad bomber and denied that the assembling of firecrackers was responsible for the explosion, but the parents and relatives of the children disagree.
Using children as unpaid labor in the countryside is apparently common practice. The moneys raised form these enterprises line the pockets of the officials, and pay the salaries of the teachers, with none of it being returned to the children in the form of materials or food. China claims to provide free public education up to the equivalent of our grade nine but families cannot afford the fees imposed for this supposedly "free" education and many children would rather work for their families instead.
I got this from a link on Cheryl's page, please click the link at the bottom and join the campaign to prevent Beijing from being allowed to host the Olympics in 2008.
Ask Congress to Oppose Beijing's Olympics Bid
Help stop Beijing's bid to host the Olympic Games, and prevent China from whitewashing their crimes in Tibet and Tirana Square. Ask your members of congress to support resolutions pending in the House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate.
Subject: No Olympics for China Until Tibet is Free
Dear [ Decision Maker ] ,
I am writing to urge you to support the concurrent Congressional Resolution opposing Beijing's bid for the 2008 Olympics. China has brutally occupied Tibet for more than fifty years, and regularly detains and tortures both Tibetans and Chinese for peacefully expressing their beliefs. A country that flagrantly violates international laws in this manner should not receive the distinction of being an Olympic host.
Since China invaded and annexed Tibet in 1949, more than 1.2 million Tibetans have died from famine, imprisonment, torture and execution. In Tibet today there is no freedom of press, speech, assembly or religion, and Tibetans are now facing the most serious crackdown on their religious freedom in years. Chinese authorities have been carrying out house-to-house searches for banned photographs of the Dalai Lama, religious shrines, and incense burners, and Tibetans caught with this contraband are subject to arrest, imprisonment, and torture.
It is inappropriate for China to host the Olympic games while its government illegally occupies another country. While China speaks loudly of its economic and social development in recent years, they have made no progress whatsoever in their treatment of human rights. "Social stability" in Tibet is enforced by 300,000 Chinese troops.
Since western countries began expanding trade relations with China, while de-linking trade and human rights, Tibet has experienced the most severe oppression since the Cultural Revolution, and religious tolerance inside China has also deteriorated. Although China has signed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, it has not ratified either one. It is clear that when the international community does not specifically consider human rights in its relationship with China, intolerance and repression only increase.
It would be unjust and irresponsible to give China the internationally recognized privilege of hosting the Games, given its government's occupation of Tibet and disregard for the human rights of its own people. Until China leaves Tibet, it does not deserve the honor of hosting the Olympic games. Please support human rights in China and Tibet and vote in favor of the congressional resolution.