Thursday, April 24, 2008

Rae's Rebuke Not Based on Facts, Says Expert

By Matthew Little
Apr 24, 2008
Liberal MP Bob Rae has raised the ire of human-rights advocates by criticizing an MP who drew comparisons between the upcoming Beijing Olympics and the 1936 Games in Nazi Germany.

Last week, Rob Anders, a Conservative MP for Calgary West, repeated his criticism of awarding China the Games in light of the ongoing human rights abuses happening there.

"You know, I think this regime has one of the worst human-rights records on the face of the planet, and we should be careful that we are not used to try to whitewash that or give it credibility," Anders told CTV's Newsnet.

Bob Rae, the Liberal Party's foreign affairs critic called Anders' comments a "gaffe" and suggested such words could damage Canada international reputation.

"Now we have a senior government MP and chair of the Veterans Affairs committee further damaging our already-strained relationship with China by comparing its government to Nazis."

Rae went on to say that comparing the Chinese Communist Party with the Nazis "trivializes one of the most horrific regimes mankind has known."

But David Matas, a renowned Jewish human rights lawyer who is the senior legal counsel for B'nai Brith and an expert on both anti-Semitism and human rights in China, said it is Rae, not Anders, who needs to reconsider his comments.

"I think what he said is less grounded in reality than what Rob Anders said," said Matas, who last year received the Canadian Bar Association's human rights award.

"I don't know a lot about Anders but I know enough about China to know that what he is saying is well grounded in fact."

Matas said there were noteworthy similarities between the 1936 Games in Nazi Germany and 2008 Olympics in Beijing.

"They're both repressive governments and they're trying to use the Olympics as a form of glorification and self-justification."

The most notable difference Matas pointed to between the two regimes was that while Nazi Germany invaded other countries to kill Jews, China has killed people within its own borders. Estimates place the number of deaths the Chinese communist regime has caused at 65 – 80 million.

"I think Mr. Rae has chosen poor grounds to try to defend Communist China and its human rights abuses," said Matas. "I think that's a poor political decision on his part."

Another lawyer and China expert, Clive Ansley, one of a handful of lawyers to have litigated in Chinese courts and the first foreign lawyer to open a law office in Shanghai, also found Rae's comments off base.

"I think that Rob Anders' comments were absolutely accurate and right on the money. I don't think anybody who knows what is going on in China and has any kind of a conscience can help but make the same parallel."

Anders isn't the first to have drawn comparisons between the Chinese communist regime and Nazi Germany. Rabbi Reuven Bulka, co-president of the Canadian Jewish Congress has also made references to the Nazi regime in condemning the Chinese communist regime's persecution of Falun Gong.

Bulka says the regime has been harvesting organs from unwilling Falun Gong practitioners and selling them in a lucrative organ trade, including to foreigners.

In previous interviews with media he has said the West should threaten a wholesale boycott of the upcoming Olympics.

"I know that we want their [China's] trade but we have to ask ourselves, do we want to trade with a partner that is so barbaric?" Bulka told a 2006 rally on Parliament Hill.

"We don't want that, and that is not what we stand for. It is so un-Canadian what is happening. And I can imagine, for example, how would anybody have anything to do with Nazi Germany in its heyday."

Rae, who is out of the country at press time, could not be reached for comment.

OLYMPIC WATCH: Human Rights in China and Beijing 2008

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