The Age: No medals for China in human rights

The awarding of the 2008 Olympic Games to China was an acknowledgment of the country’s
dynamic economic progress and its emergence as a world power to be reckoned with.
Implicit in this decision was the understanding that China would prove itself
worthy of the International Olympic Committee’s vote of confidence by joining
the community of nations that promote and protect human rights.

With just a year to go until the August 8 opening ceremony at the Birds Nest
national stadium, the world has a right to be disappointed, if not outraged.
Having the honor of hosting this great sports event has not led China to change
the manner in which it deals with civil rights, domestic protest and freedom
of speech. While there has been some easing of restrictions on foreign media
ahead of the Games, the Chinese leadership has continued to crack down on domestic
media, non-government organizations, the Internet and those it regards as dissidents.

Free speech continues to be a concept and not a reality. In what is seen as
a pointed warning to the local media in general, it has closed websites and
newsletters, some of them longstanding, and purged journalists and editors whom
it regards as too liberal. It has also prevented critics from traveling overseas,
continued its brutal repression of the Falun Gong movement and executed more
people than the rest of the world put together.

While China is certainly improving its image in some parts of the Third World
though its generous and non-interventionist loan and aid programs, its human
rights abuses in Tibet and its complicity in the Darfur crisis keep it in the
firing line for international human rights activists. Not surprisingly, these
activists see the Beijing Olympics as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to highlight
China’s ongoing human rights abuses and to campaign for a greater respect of
the fundamental norms and principles that underpin civil society.

IOC president Jacques Rogge said the Olympics would be a force for good in
China. That hope is yet to be realized.

Posting date: 12/Aug/2007
Original article date: 6/Aug/2007
Category: Media Reports


Leave a Comment