Friday, February 22, 2008

Rights forum plans boycott of Olympics

China Post: By James Donald, Special to The China Post

Speakers from international human rights organizations yesterday strongly denounced what they called "China's evil communist regime" over its alleged human rights abuses. Some participants proposed a boycott of the Beijing Olympiad this August, while others said China's tactics of discrimination have only worsened since it won the bid to host the 2008 Olympics.

Papers and speeches at the two-day forum continued today, with strong wording on China's ruling party and treatment of its citizens. Authors presented papers such as "The Chinese Communist Regime Has Never Changed Its Evil Nature," and "Influence of the Beijing Fascist Regime on Western Democracy and World Safety," in support of boycotting the much-anticipated Olympiad.

Lai Ching-te, lawmaker and president of the Coalition to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong in China (CIPFG), expressed hope the 2008 Olympics would have the same positive effect on China's government as the Seoul Olympics, claiming South Korea's formerly oppressive and undemocratic regime was given the necessary pressure to make way for positive, multi-lateral political change.

"The Olympics gives us important leverage and a channel to push China to fulfill its promises on improving its human rights conditions," said David Kilgour, former secretary of state for Asia-Pacific Affairs at the U.S. State Department, as he addressed the assembly.

Kilgour commended Taiwan for being "a very good example for China," citing it as a positive democratic system.

He explained that these Olympic Games would provide an opportunity for the country to be exposed to new pressures from the international community, and to reform its practices.

Kilgour agreed with Lai, who is also chairman of the conference, in choosing not to bring up the topic of a boycott, although it was introduced in a short farcical film screened beforehand of an Olympic torch that is passed around a group of the world's human rights organizations, in a marathon bid to boycott the Beijing games.

Along with some emotion-packed descriptions of the developing country -- such as "evil," "devilish" and "terror state" -- frequent references were made to Beijing's attempts to use the event to "paint a false image" of itself, as well as the 1936 Berlin Olympics under Hitler's fascist regime.

In contrast, Kilgour said it was the responsibility of their forum to give a truthful and accurate portrayal of the wrongs done to undeserving people, such as the religious-political organization Falun Gong which indirectly sponsored the event.

Andrew Bartlett, a senator from Queensland, Australia, asked rhetorically, "What price do we put on a human life. What price do we put on freedom?" He meanwhile acknowledged the less-than-perfect record of his own country, whose Parliament's first act was the racist "White Australia Policy."

This policy, according to Bartlett "was directed at keeping people like the Chinese out [of the country]," as he went on to denounce the callous treatment of refugees from war-torn countries such as Afghanistan and Iraq by the former Howard-government.

Those refugees, seeking safety and sanctuary from oppressive regimes such as the Taliban and Saddam Hussein, Bartlett said, were shipped to the remote Pacific island of Nauru before being sent back to the country they had fled, and forced to fend for themselves.

However, Bartlett argued that "we owe it to those in China who are subjected to these abuses" to put pressure on the Communist Party to make a stand for human rights.

President Chen Shui-bian, although not present at the event, sent a message of support and congratulations to participants for "helping to pursue democracy and human rights for a better world."

OLYMPIC WATCH: Human Rights in China and Beijing 2008

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