Tuesday, May 15, 2007

"Genocide and Olympics Cannot Coexist in China"

International call to boycott the 2008 Beijing Olympics

If there is enough international pressure on Beijing from now until the Games, they may even listen. China's own genocide should be in the spotlight. Harvesting organs from Falun Gong practitioners and killing them in the process is a crime against humanity.

Epoch Times Auckland By Sarah Matheson - An international boycott of the Olympics will be called for on August 8 this year if human rights in China do not improve.

International human rights lawyer David Matas and former Canadian Secretary of State Asia-Pacific David Kilgour have compiled two reports on China's organ trade, concluding that a state-sanctioned genocide campaign is seizing organs from Falun Gong practitioners and selling them for high prices.

"Genocide and Olympics cannot coincide in China," the say in their call for a possible boycott.

In a joint statement Matas and Kilgour said contrary to conditions set by the International Olympic Committee in 2001 that China be awarded the Olympics on the proviso human rights would improve, recent reports from UNHRC and Amnesty International "clearly indicate" that human rights are deteriorating.

Matas and Kilgour, along with the Coalition to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong in China (CIPFG) will call for boycott unless the Chinese regime stops persecuting Falun Gong and supporters -including detained human rights lawyers (ie. Gao Zhisheng, Li Hong) - and allows an independent international investigation into the state-sanctioned organ harvesting allegations.

French Presidential candidate, Francois Bayrou, is also calling for a boycott.

Olympics Encouraging Human Rights Abuses

Amnesty International's latest assessment of China's progress toward promised human rights improvements ahead of the Olympics suggests that instead they seem to be "acting as a catalyst to extend the use of detention without trial".

"If the Chinese authorities and the International Olympic Committee are serious about the Olympics having a 'lasting legacy' for China, they should be concerned that the Games are being used as a pretext to entrench and extend forms of detention that have been on China's reform agenda for many years," said Catherine Baber, Deputy Asia Pacific Director at Amnesty International.

"The IOC cannot want an Olympics that is tainted with human rights abuses -- whether families forcibly evicted from their homes to make way for sports arenas or growing numbers of peaceful activists held under 'house arrest' to stop them drawing attention to human rights issues," Baber said.

Amnesty International has sent copies of its latest update to the Chinese authorities and the International Olympic Committee (IOC), noting that these issues are directly relevant to Beijing's hosting of the Olympics and key principles in the Olympic Charter, such as 'preservation of human dignity'.

"The IOC cannot want an Olympics that is tainted with human rights abuses -- whether families forcibly evicted from their homes to make way for sports arenas or growing numbers of peaceful activists held under 'house arrest' to stop them drawing attention to human rights issues."

- Catherine Baber, Deputy Asia Pacific Director at Amnesty International.

UN special reporter report adds to concern

UN special reporter on torture Manfred Nowak has written letters to the Chinese regime highlighting the concern over their human rights abuses.

The UN asked the Chinese authorities to explain the illegal detention of human rights lawyers and the allegations of organ harvesting from Falun Gong practitioners at a wide variety of locations.

"Moreover, the reportedly short waiting times that have been advertised for perfectly-matched organs would suggest the existence of a computerized matching system for transplants and a large bank of live prospective donors.

It is alleged that the discrepancy between available organs and numbers from identifiable sources is explained by organs harvested from Falun Gong practitioners, and that the rise in transplants from 2000 coincides and correlates with the beginning of the persecution of these persons," Nowak reported in his summary on March 20, 2007.

The Chinese Communist Party responded to the UN by denying all the allegations.

New Zealand Olympic Committee Responds

New Zealand Olympic Committee (NZOC) president Eion Edgar said despite the human rights issues New Zealand would definitely not boycott the Beijing Olympics.

"There is no way New Zealand is not going to attend the games in Beijing. We are very keen for our team to be there," he said.

He said the athletes had been working very hard to prepare for the Games and are heading back to Beijing in August for more preparation.

"A lot of time and money has gone in already, and there is more to go in."

The committee has received a lot of correspondence from concerned members of the public about human rights in China.

Mr Edgar said a similar situation had occurred before the Moscow Olympics in 1980 when the Government had applied a lot of pressure on athletes to boycott the Games.

It had meant New Zealand competed with a "very reduced team", he said.

"New Zealanders are very proud of our performances at the Olympics - as they should be," he said.

NZOC secretary general Barry Maister said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade had advised them not to comment on the organ harvesting allegations.

New Zealand Government Response

A spokesman for the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Winston Peters, said the New Zealand Government would not support any calls to boycott the Olympics.

"But New Zealand has never shied away from raising human rights issues with China and we will continue to do so at appropriate times," he said.

China tends to take a "broad view" on human rights, equating human rights with some people being well off, he said.

But the New Zealand Government continues to push for "more Western ideas of human rights" in China such as freedom of expression, he said.

Green Party spokesman for foreign affairs Keith Locke said at this stage the Green Party would not push for a boycott.

"Of course, we are horrified at the violations of human rights in China, including large-scale persecution of the Falun Gong," he said.

Mr Locke saw pros and cons in a boycott, he was not sure whether the international pressure would be enough for the Chinese regime to end its violation of human rights.

"At this point I do see some value in using the spotlight on China around the buildup to the Olympics, and the increasing presence there of the world's press, to put pressure on China," he said.

He said it may also be possible for more protests to take place when the world's TV cameras are in China for the Olympics.

"Of course the problem we also have to take account of is that the Chinese might engage in even more severe repression of Falun Gong and other organisations before the world's media gets there for the Olympics."

OLYMPIC WATCH: Human Rights in China and Beijing 2008

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