Chinas Great Leap: The Beijing Games and Olympian Human Rights Challenges
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Speaking in Beijing today, he said he was saddened by the disruptions to the torch relay in Europe. He reminded athletes of the Olympic rule against political demonstrations at the Games. And in the Olympic Charter, you have a rule There are some severe human rights violations going on, and they are being perpetrated by China. So I am here to make sure that my voice is heard that I am not OK with human rights violations.
Meanwhile, both Democratic presidential candidates, Senators Clinton and Obama, have now called on President Bush to consider boycotting the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games in Beijing this August. Welcome to Democracy Now!
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Have you taken a stand on whether or not this should be going on? Well, Human Rights Watch has taken the position that the torch relay itself should not go through the Tibetan areas of China. But the real problem is on the horizon, and that is, when the torch relay goes into China itself, the Chinese government has said that it will definitely run the relay through the Tibetan areas, across the base of Everest and through Lhasa.
And that is a guaranteed situation where major human rights abuses will happen. The protests so far may be only the beginning, and there could be another major deadly crackdown on the horizon around the torch relay inside China. I think there certainly will be. Even in the highly controlled recent sort of media tours the Chinese government has arranged, there have been protests, monks who have literally risked their lives and certain imprisonment to express their concerns about religious freedom inside China.
I was shocked in reading last night the history of the Olympic torch relay — you know, the torch itself going back to ancient Greece — but the relay to be Nazi Olympics, But the torch relay itself is essentially a PR invention of the Nazi era. And the point of it was to run the torch through parts of Europe that Germany hoped to — that the Nazis hoped to take over, including the Sudetenland.
And those sponsors are Coca-Cola, Lenovo and Samsung. The Olympics are paid for by the corporate sponsors.
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How do you see the potential to be able to influence these companies? The Committee — what they really need is human rights benchmarks around awarding the Games. And the Chinese government made very specific pledges in relation to human rights in , when they were bidding for the Games, that included full freedom for the media to report and human rights improvements. You hear Jacques Rogge talking about sports being separated from politics, but the history of the Olympic movement is nothing like that.
And certainly in , when the games were in Korea, the Olympic movement and external pressure led to significant permanent reform in Korea, and the country is today one of the most durable democracies in Asia. Jacques Rogge said the staging of the Beijing Games will do a lot for human rights and social relations.
What would it take for that to happen, do you think, Minky Worden? So there are a number of — we call them Olympic prisoners of conscience, who have been arrested specifically for doing things like testifying to the European Parliament on human rights.
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These are people who should be released immediately. And when the Chinese government wants to release someone, it happens immediately. And that says there is not adequate pressure coming now from the International Olympic Committee, there is not enough pressure coming from world leaders who are planning to attend the Games. And there really is leverage that exists that is not being taken up by corporate sponsors, by governments and by the International Olympic Committee. And the one thing I would say is that the Chinese government made these pledges voluntarily.
These are voluntary commitments. And there has to be a way to hold the Chinese government to those voluntary commitments. Do you support the call for world leaders to not attend the opening ceremonies, if there is no change between now and then? Human Rights Watch started calling for world leaders to condition their attendance on significant human rights improvements, including greater freedom — opening up Tibet and other areas. Actually condition your attendance on specific improvements, on getting these people out of prison, on allowing reporters full freedom.
We have a very graphic slideshow of monks that have been killed in Tibet.
What do you know about that? And, you know, these pictures that are up on the screen are a pretty good example of the type of crackdown that you can see. Refresh and try again. Open Preview See a Problem?
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China's Great Leap: The Beijing Games and Olympian Human Rights
Bao Tong Contribution by. When Beijing first sought the Games, China was still recovering from the upheavals of Maoist rule and adapting to a market revolution. Today, China wants to engage with the outside world—while fully controlling the engagement. How will the new leaders in Beijing manage the Olympic process and the internal and external pressures for reform it creates?
Learn about key areas for human rights reform and how the Olympics could represent a possible great leap forward for the people of China and for the world.
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