Friday, February 22, 2008

Forum examines Beijing's pre-Olympics rights record

Friday, Feb 22, 2008, Page 4

Most people around the world are indifferent toward human-rights abuses, Canadian human-rights attorney David Matas told an international forum in Taipei yesterday.

Even though the public agrees that human-rights violations in China are wrong, "they are not prepared to do anything about it," he said.

Describing indifference as the "biggest obstacle" to combating rights violations, Matas said that "people are indifferent because they do not pay close enough attention to sort out truth from falsehood, the real from the unreal."

He said the best strategies are to arouse awareness of human rights and to enable everyone to distinguish the lies told by any regime in the form of propaganda and cover-ups.

Discounting China's promise to improve its rights record, Paolo Barabesi, a representative of Human Rights Without Frontiers, said there has not been any progress, noting that Beijing has suppressed religion and the development of human rights.

The forum, titled "Human Rights in China and the 2008 Olympics," was organized by the Coalition to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong in China (CIPFG) and the Taiwan Culture Foundation.

Democratic Progressive Party Legislator William Lai (賴清德), who also serves as CIPFG Asia president, urged the world to face up to the Chinese government's suppression of human rights and to take measures to prevent the Beijing Games from becoming a repeat of the 1936 Berlin Olympics.

The Berlin Games were a propaganda tool for Nazi Germany, Lai said, adding that "what the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games is going to be is in our hands." OLYMPIC WATCH: Human Rights in China and Beijing 2008

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