Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Urge the IOC to relocate the 2008 Beijing Olympics


OLYMPIC WATCH: Human Rights in China and Beijing 2008


Dear Friends,

An Amnesty International report just released criticizes China's failure to honour human rights promises made when bidding for the 2008 Olympics. With less than two years to go before the start of the Beijing Games, the report cited such "issues of concern" as: a lack of media freedom and free speech, the mistreatment and torture of human rights activists, lack of a fair trial for the 8 - 10,000 who receive the death penalty annually, extracting the organs of those who are killed by the death penalty, forced evictions for Olympic-related sites. The list goes on and on. Human Rights Watch has also highlighted the recent crackdown on human rights lawyers and noted that China's legal system is used to persecute people who seek to defend the rights of Chinese citizens.

The EU-China resolution adopted just before the recent EU-Asia summit also mentions a considerable number of human rights violations. As well, former Crown prosecutor and Cabinet Minister David Kilgour, along with international human rights attorney David Matas, put China in the spotlight recently with the release of their investigative report on the rampant illegal harvesting of the organs of Falun Gong practitioners – a macabre practice that has been going on in China for the past six years or so. It is included in the EU-China Resolution under #66.

Moreover, the US State Department’s International Religious Freedom Report 2006 has blacklisted China as a serious violator of religious freedom. The department cited violence against believers, especially targeting members of the Falun Gong spiritual movement. Likewise, UN special rapporteur on torture Manfred Nowak, who spoke at the UNHRC recently, highlighted the fact that inhumane torture is still widespread in China. Sixty six percent of the 314 torture cases he has tracked in China since 2000 involved practitioners of the banned Falun Gong spiritual movement (E/CN/4/2003/68/Add.1 para.301).

Freedom House Center director Nina Shea said: "Memories of the Olympics in Nazi Berlin continue to cast a shadow over the Games. The Olympics would again be dishonored by the scandal of holding the prestigious events in a country where "unapproved" houses of worship are routinely bulldozed, grandmothers and priests are bludgeoned to death for religious practices, and religious people are sent to labor camp by the tens of thousands." Shea was referring to the destruction of thousands of churches, temples and shrines in Wenzhou in the weeks before Christmas and the fact that mass numbers of religious believers, especially Falun Gong practitioners, are being arrested and persecuted.

It is noteworthy that the International Olympics Committee (IOC) has said it would act if human rights commitments were not met by Beijing in the run-up to the Olympics. The most disturbing atrocity occurring in China today since the Cultural Revolution is the persecution of Falun Gong—widespread organ harvesting targeting the practitioners and killing them during the process should be enough to prompt the IOC to withdraw the Olympics from China altogether.

I trust in your diligence to intervene with the IOC in requesting that the 2008 Beijing Olympics be relocated to a nation that meets the standard set by the IOC Code of Ethics. All democratic nations of the world, in the event that the 2008 Games are not moved, should refuse to take part in this shameful Communist propaganda exercise and boycott the Games. It's a travesty that China, with its abysmal human rights track record, was granted the honour of hosting the Games in the first place.

This is a perfect opportunity to take a stand and show integrity as a valued member of the international community. It is not too late to remedy this situation and make a conscientious choice.

Below is a co-sign letter we initiated for this international campaign for your consideration. It would be greatly appreciated if you would either sign the letter or send your own letter and cc to us. We thank you for considering this serious matter that deeply affects our free world and our cherished values of justice and liberty.

________________________________

CO-SIGN LETTER

Mr. Jacques Rogge
President
International Olympic Committee
Ch√Ęteau de Vidy
CH-1007 Lausanne

Dear President Rogge and Members of the IOC:

We, the undersigned, urge the International Olympic Committee to reconsider its decision to award the 2008 Summer Olympics to Beijing in the wake of recent reports criticizing China's failure to honour human rights promises made when bidding for the 2008 Olympics.

The latest Amnesty International report cited such "issues of concern" as: a lack of media freedom and free speech, the mistreatment and torture of human rights activists, lack of a fair trial for the 8 - 10,000 who receive the death penalty annually, extracting the organs of those who are killed by the death penalty, forced evictions for Olympic-related sites, and the list goes on and on. The report said: “Attempts to prevent or impede the peaceful activities of human rights defenders run counter to the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders(32) and promises made by the Chinese authorities that human rights will improve as result of Beijing being awarded the Olympics.” [1]

As well, the EU-China resolution [2] adopted just before the recent EU-Asia summit mentions a considerable number of human rights violations and proposes major law reform. Human Rights Watch has also highlighted the recent crackdown on human rights lawyers [1.1] and noted that China's legal system is used to persecute people who seek to defend the rights of Chinese citizens.

A Canadian report released in July 2006 concluded that the communist government of the People's Republic of China has been committing crimes against humanity. Former Crown Prosecutor and Secretary of State for Asia Pacific David Kilgour and international human rights lawyer David Matas said: "We have concluded that the government of China and its agencies in numerous parts of the country, in particular hospitals but also detention centers and 'people's courts,' since 1999 have put to death a large but unknown number of Falun Gong prisoners of conscience. Their vital organs, including hearts, kidneys, livers and corneas, were virtually simultaneously seized involuntarily for sale at high prices, sometimes to foreigners, who normally face long waits for voluntary donations of such organs in their home countries." [3] The U.S. National Kidney Foundation [4] released a statement saying it is "deeply concerned" about the findings of the Kilgour-Matas report and that it opposes any payment for organs because of the possibility for exploitation.

Speaking at the annual congress of the World Society of Cardio-Thoracic Surgeons, Rabbi Bulka, member of the Canadian Council for Donation and Transplantation said that Canada and other free countries should boycott the 2008 Beijing Olympics if the communist regime in China continues harvesting organs from detained Falun Gong practitioners. T Kumar, Amnesty International USA Advocacy Director for Asia and the Pacific expressed similar concerns noting that "in spite of promises to improve human rights, China continues to account for upwards of 80% of all executions in the world," and on a large scale uses their organs for sale. At this rate, the only world record China is guaranteed to earn at the 2008 games will be for the world's champion of executions.” Sixty-eight capital crimes are punishable by the death penalty in China.

On his last trip to China in 2005 [5], UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Manfred Nowak noted “that the criminal justice system and its strong focus on admission of culpability, confession and re-education is particularly disturbing in relation to political crimes and the administrative detention system of “re-education through labour. The combination of deprivation of liberty as a sanction for the peaceful exercise of freedom of expression, assembly and religion, with measures of re-education through coercion, humiliation and punishment aimed at admission of guilt and altering the personality of detainees up to the point of breaking their will, constitutes a form of inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, which is incompatible with the core values of any democratic society based upon a culture of human rights" (E/CN.4/2006/6 Add.6).

The US State Department’s International Religious Freedom Report 2006 [6] has blacklisted China as a serious violator of religious freedom. Freedom House Center director Nina Shea said: "Memories of the Olympics in Nazi Berlin continue to cast a shadow over the Games. The Olympics would again be dishonored by the scandal of holding the prestigious events in a country where "unapproved" houses of worship are routinely bulldozed, grandmothers and priests are bludgeoned to death for religious practices, and religious people are sent to labor camp by the tens of thousands." [7]

The IOC Code of Ethics clearly sets a standard that nations must meet in order to be worthy of hosting the Olympic Games. [8] The Code states: "The spirit of humanism, fraternity and respect for individuals, which inspires the Olympic ideal, requires the governments of countries that are to host the Olympic Games to undertake that their countries will scrupulously respect the Fundamental Principles of the Olympic Charter and the present Code.” The code further cites that “safeguarding the dignity of the individual is a fundamental requirement of Olympism."

It is with the greatest respect for the Olympic ideals and principles that we bring this appeal to the members of the IOC. Therefore, we urge the IOC to:

  • prevent the use of international sport to advance repression by moving the 2008 Olympics from Beijing to an alternate city outside Communist China's control, (Section 23.1.6 of the Charter)
  • recommend an alternate series of "Freedom Games" to encourage international competition in a peaceful environment free of the prospect of unjust war [9] and the reality of repression.

It would be ironic for the Olympic torch to promote not international brotherhood, but a cruel totalitarian regime that tortures its people and bombards its population with nationalist propaganda. The journalist William Shirer recorded in 1984, "Hitler, we who covered the Games had to concede, turned the Olympics into a dazzling propaganda success for his barbarian regime." Insofar the Chinese regime does not respect the fundamental Olympic principles and these Games will undoubtedly serve to undermine the high standard of excellence of Olympism for the future - in the same way that the 1936 Olympics in Nazi Germany [10] undermined Olympism in its time.

It’s time for the IOC to live up to its rhetoric and high ideals by reconsidering its hands-off approach. Let history be our teacher.

Yours truly,

(signature)

Name:
Title:
Organization:
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cc: Initiator/sender

[1] Amnesty International: People’s Republic of China
The Olympics countdown – failing to keep human rights promises

[1.1] Human Rights Watch: Stop harassment of advocates for social justice

[2] European Parliament resolution on EU-China Relations (2005/2161(INI)

[3] Kilgour-Matas Report into Allegations of Organ harvesting of Falun Gong Practitioners in China

[4] Statement of National Kidney Foundation, August 15, 2006

[5] Special Rapporteur on Torture Highlights Challenges at end of visit to China (2005)

[6] US State Department International Religious Freedom Report 2006

[7] Freedom House: Religious Deterioration is Reason to Reject China's Olympic Bid

[8] Olympic Charter

[9] Human Events: UN Again Slams Door on Taiwan

[10] The Movement to Boycott the Berlin Olympics of 1936

Related Articles:

Ottawa Citizen: Send China a message: The harvesting of human organs is a human-rights breach of the worst order and demands a global response

China: Priests arrested after visiting Europe
Police also took away a number of books and photos that the priests brought back from Europe -- watchdog seeks the Olympics to be cancelled

BBC: Olympic legend Sir Matthew Pinsent has been left stunned by the treatment of young gymnasts in Beijing

NRO: The Olympics in the belly of the beast

5 comments:

bobby fletcher said...
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CCAC said...
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bobby fletcher said...
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abc said...
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MaKina said...

abc -- You are missing the point. Kind hearted people of all ethnic backgrounds are chagrined about the way that the dictatorship in Beijing treats its own people and are using the Olympics to strike even harder on religious groups, journalists, peasants, democracy fighters and lawyers. All of these atrocities, including forced organ harvesting of Falun Gong go against the Olympic charter and the universal human rights convention.

That is not a matter for rejoice. Please think again.