Sunday, March 16, 2008

Tibet violence could impact Olympics, says analyst

Sri Krishna

Statesman: NEW DELHI, March 15: The fallout of the violence in Tibet could well resonate at the upcoming Olympic Games in Beijing as there was a possibility of boycott by some western nations, says an analyst.

With the first salvo having been fired by Hollywood film mogul Steven Spielberg resigning as artistic adviser for the Beijing Olympics to protest against Chinese support for the Sudanese government’s genocidal campaign in Darfur, Tibet expert Mr Vijay Kranti said, “These kind of actions could trigger a boycott move”. Coupled with this decision by Spielberg and the violence in Tibet leading to several deaths could snowball into a major issue as several countries have protested against the manner in which the Chinese government has handled the issue, he said.

“What is happening in Tibet today is a reaction to the suppression that has been taking place in Tibet of the ethnic people for almost half a century since China occupied this strategic region,” said Mr Kranti.

He felt that it is time India too ensured that human rights are not violated in Tibet for with a huge Tibetan population in this country as also its religious head, the Dalai Lama, there is a need to take a “moral stand on this issue”. According to Mr Kranti, the Chinese government plea that sports and politics must be separated, cannot be accepted. Being an international event, they do get intertwined as happened at the 1980 Moscow Olympics when western nations boycotted it. The Moscow Olympics boycott was led by the United States followed by 64 other countries in protest of the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

The violent protests of 10 March marking the anniversary of a failed uprising by Tibetans against Chinese rule have been the largest since the late 1980s when Beijing used severe force against the agitators.

Mr Kranti said so far foreign governments have been reluctant to put pressure on China for its abysmal human rights record, whether it be excessive recourse to the death penalty, labour camps, torture, harassment of lawyers, journalists and trades unionists, Internet censorship or persecution of Falun Gong adherents.

He felt that it is time this attitude is reversed and Beijing is told that it cannot continue to suppress people’s rights, be it Tibetans or any others like Falun Gong followers and that “what is happening today in Tibet is only the shape of things to come in a totalitarian regime”.

OLYMPIC WATCH: Human Rights in China and Beijing 2008

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