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Vice-President of EU and Chinese activist call for original Olympic spirit restored

Posted by Author on August 21, 2007

News Release, by Edward Mr McMillan-Scott, Vice-President of the EuropeanEdward McMillan-Scott Parliament and leading European human rights and democracy champion, Via Human Rights Torch Rely Website, 16 August 2007

A senior Conservative MEP, who is urging European governments to debate a boycott of the Beijing Olympics for humanitarian reasons, has hit back at comments by British Olympic chief Simon Clegg who criticised his campaign as “absolutely extraordinary”.

Mr Edward McMillan-Scott (Yorkshire & Humber) – a Vice-President of the European Parliament and leading European human rights and democracy champion – last week presented a letter to Gordon Brown and has set up a website www.boycottbeijing.eu, which has so far received 80 per cent support.

To highlight the situation in China, McMillan-Scott invited a leading human rights campaigner to break new ground by contributing to a London press conference from an anonymous telephone in Beijing. Mr Hu Jia – who had been arrested for speaking to Time magazine last year – spoke through an interpreter in Hong Kong for over 40 minutes.

He said: “The abuse of human rights now is worse than 2001 when China was awarded the Olympics. These games have been kidnapped by the authorities – they do not belong to the Chinese people. The Chinese Communist Party is using the Olympics to violate citizens’ human rights through a crackdown on dissidents and environmental degradation. This goes against everything that the Olympic spirit stands for.”

McMillan-Scott said: “Hu Jia put himself in real danger by speaking with me in public with such clarity, compassion and courage. I hope that this demonstrates to the Olympic industry what is really happening in China. Nobody should forget the first article of the Olympic Charter insists on respect for universal fundamental ethical principles.”

Mr Jia is a close friend of the prominent human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng who was arrested on August 15 2006, and convicted of subversion. When Mr McMillan-Scott visited China in May 2006 he was due to see Gao Zhisheng and Hu Jia but was warned by Western diplomats that a meeting would place them in danger.

In any event, two former prisoners of conscience who the MEP had already met had been arrested – Cao Dong and Niu Jinping. The latter appealed on behalf of his wife, who has been tortured in Beijing’s women’s prison since 2005 to renounce her religious beliefs.

Mr McMillan-Scott gave details of the current condition of the prisoners and those responsible for their treatment. Both are practitioners of Falun Gong, a mystical Buddhist movement of some 100 million people. More than 3,000 have been tortured to death since 1999.

The MEP said: “Sadly these are not isolated cases. I have met many survivors of torture from China’s numerous ‘re-education through labour’ camps. I do not understand how the Olympic industry can turn a blind eye to what is going on. We would not have participated in the Berlin Olympics if we had known about the concentration camps in 1936, but the situation in China today is far worse.

“Pledges of reform were made to the Olympic industry by the Beijing regime in 2001 and have manifestly been ignored. It is time the original Olympic spirit – and not the commercial festival the games have become – was restored, including its commitment to respecting universal fundamental ethical principles.”

CONTACT: Andrew Lambert (01325) 363436

News Release from Human Rights Torch Rely Website, approved by Mr. Edward Mr McMillan-Scott

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