In less than a week the Games of the XXIX Olympiad will begin. While the world’s attention will be on the athletes, the competitions, and the medal count, others will be feeling the effects of an oppressive regime which has no concern for human rights.
Indeed, there will be plenty of people who will have nothing to celebrate during the 17-day event. For them it will be business as usual. These include Tibetans, the non-Han minorities, the Falun Gong sect, political dissenters, and Christians. Indeed, the Han majority does not fare much better in this one-party dictatorship, with basic human rights trampled on a daily basis.
Yet people will argue that we should leave politics out of sport, that we should not turn the Olympics into a political affair. Sorry, but it already is a political affair, and has been for quite some time now. Remember 1936? To its great shame, the International Olympic Committee has allowed the Games to be used as a political tool by totalitarian tyrants for decades. As Charles Colson explains,
“The Olympics have become inseparable from politics. Countries have used their status as Olympic hosts to secure international prestige and legitimacy – often for ill. The most notorious example was the 1936 Berlin Games. They were a ‘coming-out party’ for the Third Reich, which had already launched its war against its own Jewish population. The United States not only ignored calls for a boycott of the Games – to our eternal disgrace, we bowed to Nazi pressure and replaced two Jewish sprinters, Marty Glickman and Sam Stoller, with more acceptable Gentiles. While those Games are best-remembered for Jesse Owens’ one-man demolition of Nazi racial theories, his triumph was, sadly, an individual – not a national – one. Now it is China’s turn. Like Nazi Germany, China craves the respect and prestige that goes with hosting the Games.”
China should never have won the bid to become the host nation in the first place. Columnist Andrew Bolt minces no words when he says “weasels gave the Olympics to China’s dictators”. He continues, “Why the Chinese regime wanted the world’s greatest sports festival is clear. It hasn’t spent more than $40 billion on these Games and showpiece facilities just so we can all watch some athletes running around. It instead plans to use this gigantic television stage to announce to the world the dawn of the new China Century – and to awe its subjects with the glory won by their unelected leaders, who have finally given their country a place in the sun. But why the IOC handed over the Games to this celebration of totalitarian rule, and this resentful demand for status, is less clear.”
“Sure, the IOC is now wallowing in Chinese cash. But to name Beijing as host city ran counter to the IOC charter, which insists the goal of the Games ‘is to place sport at the service of the harmonious development of man, with a view to promoting a peaceful society concerned with the preservation of human dignity’. Er, so that’s why the IOC weasels gave it to China? A country with no free speech, no rule of law, no free elections and a habit of sponsoring tyrants in places such as Zimbabwe, Sudan and Burma?”
Tiananmen Square was not all that long ago. Are the memories of the IOC so short, or so jaded? As China expert Steven Mosher says, the games will only serve to legitimise a one-party dictatorship that has a deplorable human rights record: “The Olympics is intended to be a celebration of the human spirit. But the spirit of the Chinese people, not to mention the spirit of the Tibetans and other minorities, is being crushed under the weight of an oppressive regime. We should no more celebrate the Olympics in China in 2008, than we should have celebrated the Olympics in Nazi-controlled Berlin in 1936.”
He reminds us that China’s human rights record has not improved in recent years but has in fact gotten worse: “China is one of the worst violators of human rights in the world. Given the Chinese Communist Party bragging rights over the games makes a mockery of their meaning.”
Consider the treatment of Christians in China. Colson says “we Christians cannot permit the world to turn a blind eye to the persecution endured by Chinese Christians. The Rutherford Institute claims that 50 to 100 million members of the house church movement are coming under increasing pressure as the Olympics approach. Two incidents should be enough to paint a chilling picture. In April 2007, according to John Whitehead, one Chinese Christian, Liu Huiwen, ‘was arrested for distributing Christian literature to Muslims in the Gansu province. Huiwen was reportedly severely beaten . . . and sentenced to 18 months in prison’.”
“For printing Christian literature, Pastor Cai Zhuohua was tortured and imprisoned ‘in a cold and cramped cell with 27 other prisoners and forced to make soccer balls for 10-12 hours a day for the Olympic Games.’ These are not isolated instances, but part of an overall effort to squelch the house church movement. Freedom House reports instances in which the ‘buildings where unregistered congregations hold services have been demolished’ by the government.”
Instead of effectively condoning Chinese oppression, the free West should be boycotting the games. A strong stand by the West means hope for those suffering under tyranny. Colson explains, “When I was in the Soviet Union right after the fall of communism, I met with many dissidents who told me how encouraged they were when Reagan publicly repudiated the evil empire, and about how they were mistreated whenever Western diplomats legitimized the Soviet regime.”
If a million concerned citizens did not watch the games, that would hardly dent the billion-plus audience expected to view the event. But surely those considering going to China should have a last-minute rethink. Their presence in China will simply add legitimacy to this totalitarian regime.
There is a “Beijing Boycott Coalition” which has been established to oppose the Beijing Olympics. It calls on “all individuals and groups concerned about human rights, whether their issue is the suppression of journalism, the persecution of religious groups, or forced abortion” to join the coalition. For more information about the coalition, visit www.beijingboycottcoalition.com.