Thursday, March 06, 2008

Dutch Olympian Tells IOC: Demand Human Rights in China

By Jasper Fakkert
Epoch Times Netherlands Staff
Mar 06, 2008

Pieter Van Den Hoogenband of the Netherlands celebrates on the podium during a medal ceremony during the Athens 2004 Summer Olympic Games. (Daniel Berehulak/FINA)
Pieter Van Den Hoogenband of the Netherlands celebrates on the podium during a medal ceremony during the Athens 2004 Summer Olympic Games. (Daniel Berehulak/FINA)

Pieter van den Hoogenband, world famous Dutch Olympic swimmer has called upon the highest authority of the International Olympic Committee to take a stance for the improvement of the human rights situation in China. He did this today in his column in Holland's largest national newspaper De Telegraaf:

"As pater familias of the Olympic movement he (Jacques Rogge) is in my eyes the right person to give all athletes around the world a voice. Hereby I allow myself to call upon him to take his responsibility as the highest boss of the International sport society and to speak out in public in front of the whole world on behalf of all the Olympic athletes around the world for an improvement of the human rights situation in China. He can count on my complete support and sympathy."

Last month, the coach behind Pieter van den Hoogenband and his six Olympic medals, Jacco Verhaeren, expressed his concern about the reluctance of the IOC to speak out against the Human Rights violations taking place in China. He did this in an interview with the Dutch national newspaper NRC Handelsblad :

"What bothers me is the indifferent attitude of the IOC, that attitude: 'What are you concerned about?' I know, the IOC has many interests to weigh against each other, but I think their is no greater importance than respecting Human Rights.

"To be honest I don't understand the difficulty. What is so difficult about condemning executions?"

Pieter van den Hoogenband his call is latest in a series of events in the Netherlands that have focused attention on the Human Rights violations taking place in China. The Dutch Ministry of Foreign affairs held a meeting last January, despite pressure from Beijing, discussing the Human Rights situation and the Olympic Games in China. Last month the government's Christian Union Party called for a boycott of the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games.

Famous Dutch comedian Erik van Muiswinkel has consistently brought up the Human Rights violations in China in the Dutch media over the past few months. Together with seven other well-known Dutch artists he has produced the song 'Don't Go to China', sharply criticizing the communist regime's human rights abuses. Dutch pop group Bløf has cancelled its performance at the Olympic Games in the Heineken Holland House and Olympic hockey coach Mark Lammers has showed his support for Verhaeren's actions.

It is to be expected that more and more people will find the courage to speak out and that the pressure on the Chinese communist party with regard to its Human Rights violations will only intensify as the games get nearer and nearer.

Many Protest Chinese Regime's Rights Abuses

China was granted the honor of hosting the Olympics only after the Chinese regime promised to amend its human rights record.

Human rights watchdogs Amnesty International and Reporters Without Borders have published reports showing that repression in China is actually increasing as the games approach, as the Chinese regime attempts to tightly control Beijing during the Olympics.

Journalists, people of faith including Christians, Falun Gong practitioners, and Tibetan Buddhists, human rights activists, and government critics find themselves banned, jailed, sent to labor camps, tortured and killed as Beijing cracks down on anyone who might not toe the communist line.

Also, low-income homeowners are often forcibly evicted and their property seized so it can be sold to wealthy developers. This has happened with increasing frequency since the start of the Olympic Games building project; the Chinese regime has evicted large numbers of lower-class Beijing residents and demolished to make room for Olympic Stadiums and housing for foreign athletes.

Despite China's efforts to control both its own people and the world's opinion, more and more human rights supporters are calling for Beijing to change its ways. Movie producer Steven Spielberg, actresses Uma Thurman and Mia Farrow, and former Canadian Secretary of State David Kilgour are among many who are speaking out against the Chinese regime's repressive ways.

Additional reporting by Peter Valk and James Fish

OLYMPIC WATCH: Human Rights in China and Beijing 2008

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