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2008 Olympics Campaign

In 2003, HRIC launched a five-year campaign, "Incorporating Responsibility 2008" (IR2008). The campaign leveraged the international and domestic opportunities arising out of the 2008 Beijing Olympics’ commitments to promote equitable development, freedom of expression, and other human rights. The campaign’s specific goals were to: support domestic activists, expand China’s independent civil society space, and promote the Chinese government’s compliance with its Olympics promises and international human rights obligations. Through research, advocacy, and media work, IR2008 advanced concrete recommendations and engaged diverse stakeholders. 

Specific resources produced during the campaign included:

  • A special website dedicated to the campaign.
  • Profiles of 12 imprisoned rights defenders and extensive background material on their cases.
  • A 2008 calendar, featuring one imprisoned human rights defender each month and the names of more than 300 other rights defenders and prisoners of conscience, who were scheduled to remain in prison throughout 2008.
  • Background materials on Beijing Olympics-related issues, topics, and intervention opportunities.
  • Information on contracts awarded, companies’ human rights policies, and China’s international obligations.
  • A briefing note for the World Press Freedom Committee, “Beijing’s Legal Obligations as Olympics Host: A Human Rights in China Briefing Paper”(2008).
  • “The Promise of a People’s Olympics,” a chapter in China’s Great Leap: The Beijing Games and Olympian Human Rights Challenges (Seven Stories Press: 2008).
  • Special issues of China Rights Forum—2007, No. 3, “2008 and Beyond” and 2008, No. 4, “After the Spectacle”—as well as featured articles in 2007, No. 4, “Inspiring Change.”

HRIC’s work helped to raise international attention to these imprisoned rights defender cases, and issues such as press freedom, evictions, labor and minority rights, and June Fourth. However, the role of foreign companies in helping to build at least one Olympics legacy—an even more technologically sophisticated surveillance and monitoring system—will require ongoing attention.

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