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  • Human Rights Rally – Green Party of Utah Member featured speaker

    Posted by Green Party Peace Network on April 23, 2008

    Green Party of Utah Desert Greens Co-Coordinator and Co-Founder of the Green Party Peace Network Deanna Taylor spoke at the Human Rights Torch Relay Rally on Sunday, April 20, 2008 in Salt Lake City. the speech, and the entire program, had to be cut short due to frigid conditions.

    See more video and photos at Dee’s ‘Dotes.

    ENVIRONMENTAL INJUSTICE IN CHINA
    by Deanna “Dee” Taylor

    Greetings from the Green Party of Utah Desert Greens, the Green Party of the UnitedStates, and the Green Party Peace Network.

    The count down to the 2008 Olympics in China has brought with it assurances by the Chinese government that the development of human rights would be strengthened. However the Chinese government continues to restrict its citizens? fundamental rights, including freedom of expression, freedom of association, and freedom of religion. Labor rights, Children?s rights, Women’s rights, and access to health care to patients with HIV/AIDS, a very serious health issue in China, all are also compromised by the restrictions on the people living under the Chinese regime.

    I will focus, today, though, on the how the Chinese government engages in human rights abuses by virtue of its unregulated environmental practices.

    The BBC in August 2007 reported that some of the Olympic games in the Bejing games in 2008 could be postponed due to pollution. The president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) was quoted that “It is an option.?Sports with short durations would not be a problem, but endurance sports like cycling are examples of competitions that might be postponed or delayed.”

    Billions have been spent in an attempt to reduce pollution without success.

    The Human Rights in China Olympics Campaign, in a February 2007 article called China?s Environment and Situation of Water reported that , and I quote:

    With a record high of US$177.47 billion in trade surplus last year, China is one of the world’s economic powerhouses. However, this economic growth comes at the expense of the environment and public health. Researchers estimate that pollution in China causes more than 300,000 premature deaths every year. In addition to human costs, pollution has brought economic losses at an estimated 10 percent of China’s GDP. According to the State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA), China will need to spend a projected 1.6 percent of its GDP, totaling about 1.3 trillion yuan (US $167 billion) to clean up the environment and prevent further degradation between 2006 and 2010. Extensive environmental damage has also fueled rising social unrests. In 2005, SEPA reported that severe pollution prompted 51,000 public disputes, while the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China has identified pollution as one of four social problems linked to social disharmony.

    China’s environment is deteriorating on all fronts: air, land and water and is negatively affecting biodiversity and the health and quality of life for individuals. The statistics on air pollution, loss of farmland, toxic waters, and biodiversity are alarming.

    The Chinese government’s lack of sustainable water management policies has contributed to water pollution that significantly harms public health, water shortage and contamination, and loss of community livelihood and local income.

    Polluted water not only has a significant impact on public health in China, but also the livelihood of farmers and fishermen . Additionally, coastal waters have become polluted to the point of rendering the water uninhabitable for coastal species and organisms. The management of water in china does not reflect the regard for water being used as a communal resource, resulting in several hundred thousand displaced residents.

    Under international laws, all people have the right to basic human needs, such as water, health and an adequate standard of living. These rights are protected in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights which has been ratified by 155 countries, including China in 2001. Ratification dictates that countries must adopt effective measures to realize, without discrimination, the right to sufficient, safe, acceptable, accessible and affordable water. In China, however, this still remains out of reach for much of its population.

    Various human rights organizations have discovered that, while for the 2008 Beijing Olympics Games, China has committed to a “Green Olympics,” (giving top priority to environmental protection, including preventing air pollution and protecting drinking water sources. A reported $7 billion has been spent on environmental clean-up for the Olympic Games, and the government has committed to replacing coal with clean energies), the overall preparation for the Olympics has been plagued by corruption, forced relocations, and lack of transparency and independent monitoring mechanisms.

    In other words, the Chinese government does not walk the talk.

    How can we in the United States make a difference in this situation? Get active.

    Participate in movements to boycott corporately controlled events like the Olympics. Boycott sponsors that promote the Olympics – especially those that are linked to human rights violation practices. Help support celebrities like Stephen Speilberg who, in a bold move, withdrew from his role as an artistic adviser to the 2008 Olympic Games in Bejing, because of his opposition to China’s support for the Sudanese regime responsible for the humanitarian crisis in Darfur. He has accused China of not doing enough to press Sudan to end the “continuing human suffering” in the troubled region. Write to the Chinese embassy to demand the release of political prisoners for exercising the right to speak out against human rights abuses. Support the environmental movement in China. Research, read and absorb all the information you can about environmental human rights violations to become better informed. Support groups like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, whose missions are to work to defend the rights of humans worldwide. Urge your representatives to defend human rights world wide. When exercising your right to vote, vote for politicians who value human and environmental rights in our world. I became a member of the Green Party because of its key values of non-violence, environmental justice, and advocacy for human rights. Seek out organizations which value life on our planet.

    I’d like to end with this Pledge to Life, which my husband, Tom King, wrote:

    I pledge allegiance to all life in its interdependent diversity;

    and to the Planet upon which it exists,

    one World,

    under the sky,

    undividable with harmony and balance for all.

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