By Edward McMillan-Scott, via Yorkshire Post, UK, 13 August 2007-
Edward McMillan-Scott (photo right) is a Conservative MEP for Yorkshire and Humber, a vice-president of the European Parliament and founded the EU’s Democracy and Human Rights Initiative.
The year-long countdown to the 2008 Beijing Olympics was celebrated by the Chinese regime with a firework display in Tiananmen Square – the focus of the June 1989 massacre of thousands of human rights activists. Massed dancers performed under the bland portrait of Mao Tse-tung, who murdered without qualms more than 70 million of his own people, 38 million through starvation.
Outside China, numerous reports were produced by human rights organisations such as Amnesty International. Reporters without Borders said “despite the explicit undertakings it gave to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in 2001, the Chinese government has done nothing to improve free expression or human rights in general…. Every year several thousand Chinese are executed in public, often in stadiums, by means of a bullet in the back of the neck or lethal injection”.
As I said following my visit to Beijing last year, when I met former prisoners of conscience, one of whom had shared a cell in one of China’s vast detention camps with Tiananmen activists, “the civilised world must shun China”.
Simon Clegg, chief executive of the British Olympic Association, has said he would not succumb to pressure from human rights groups or politicians over participation in what promises to be the most controversial Games since the US boycott of the 1980 Moscow Olympics.
However, this view that sport and politics don’t mix defies the Olympic Charter itself. Article 1 says it “seeks to create a way of life based on the joy of effort, the educational value of good example and respect for universal fundamental ethical principles”, surely the most universal of which is the UN Human Rights Charter.
It was the IOC itself which decided to exclude South Africa from the Games in 1964 as part of a world-wide campaign against apartheid. So I make no apology for urging our Prime Minister to begin a debate across the EU about a possible boycott of the Beijing Games. The EU’s foreign policy claims to be the promotion of human rights and democracy.
Gordon Brown, with the help of French President Nicolas Sarkozy and with all-party support at home, has shown a new foreign policy activism by making the genocide in Darfur his first priority. It is Chinese support for the murderous Sudanese government which has led Mia Farrow to call the Beijing Games the “Genocide Olympics”.
But there is still genocide inside China. Hundreds of thousands are in “administrative detention”. The world’s biggest country is becoming explosive, with tensions arising from huge distortions in wealth leading to corruption, a collapsing environment and universal repression of any dissent. A leaked official report said that some 90,000 impromptu demonstrations in rural areas took place within a recent 12-month period. These were primarily against expropriation of land and corrupt officialdom.
China’s economic boom is causing massive environmental degradation. The air in Beijing is appalling. Even Jacques Rogge, president of the IOC, acknowledged that Beijing’s air pollution could force outdoor events to be abandoned.
The crackdown on religions is a brutal mistake from the regime’s standpoint, as it will lead, in my view, to its collapse. In any event, it is of fundamental importance in the coming period. Recently, Beijing has modified its policy by promoting a “patriotic” or authorised Buddhism.
This is possibly in recognition of the role of religions in bringing down the Soviet Union – Catholics in Poland and Protestants elsewhere across Eastern Europe who had simply had enough. Faith cannot be killed.
The Vatican has until now accepted the appointment of its senior clerics by the Communist Party of China but is becoming restive; several million Catholics secretly appoint their own bishops. Underground Anglican churches, too, abound. Muslims have been shot for “separatism” and those with passports have had them removed this year, to prevent them from making the Haj.
Patient and proud, Tibetans have suffered humiliation since Chinese troops occupied their lovely country in 1951. Beijing rules with a heavy hand, enforcing strict controls on religious activity. It routinely vilifies the 71-year-old Dalai Lama, and imprisoned his chosen successor, the “soul boy”. Beijing has recently sacked hundreds of Tibetan officials and replaced them with Han loyalists.
The Falun Gong movement, a spiritual Buddhist group, has had the worst treatment after it grew in only seven years of existence to 100 million adherents. Over 3,000 Falun Gong have been tortured to death since 1999 by a regime which demands that they recant.
Survivors have told me that they are the only prisoners who get a health check. Why? One had seen his friend’s cadaver in the prison hospital with holes where body parts had been removed. China’s booming organ transplant industry – run by the People’s Liberation Army – is harvesting Falun Gong prisoners’ vital organs to order. They sell at a premium as practitioners neither drink nor smoke.
The Genocide Convention refers to any acts “committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group”. Tragically, China today abounds in examples of continuing internal genocide. Let us give the regime until Christmas to put the past aside, or we must apply the Olympic spirit and shun their Games.
- Original report from YorkshirePost.co.uk : Edward McMillan-Scott: We should shun these Olympics in a land of genocide