Thursday :: Jul 31, 2008

Why Are We Going To Play Games In China?

by Jeff Dinelli

If you're a non-violent activist for human rights in China, you can expect to be abused, intimidated, harassed, placed under police surveillance, thrown in prison, or all of the above. Authorities have been known to force sterilizations and abortions on citizens. If you're a lawyer wishing to defend such citizens, expect to be imprisoned for years. Journalists who attempt to expose human rights abuses are also targeted.

If you practice in unapproved advertising, drive an unlicensed taxi, operate an unlicensed business, are homeless and begging on the street, join a peaceful protest or express dissent, go directly to jail, do not collect your $200. You will not be charged, nor will you receive a trial or a judicial review of any kind.

If you're a journalist, media member, owner of a blog or website of any kind, you regularly receive a list of topics that are off-limits from the government. Write or talk about any of these subjects, expect to be censored, fired, detained, or even thrown in jail.

China leads the world in death penalties carried out. Amnesty International estimates over 6,000 people were killed by the Chinese government in 2007. You can be given the death penalty for tax fraud, using illegal drugs, or accepting a bribe. Good luck if you're being questioned about or suspected of committing a crime, for torture is often used, and law officials can simply deny you a lawyer.

When China was selected to host the 2008 Olympic Games back in 2001, both Chinese officials and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) predicted the honor would surely improve the country's human rights policies.

Wang Wei, Secretary General of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games Bid Committee said: "We are confident that the Games coming to China not only promotes our economy, but also enhances human rights."

Jacques Rogge, President of the IOC said:

"We are convinced that the Olympic Games will improve the human rights record in China."

Nothing has improved.

What should we do about it? It's too late now, since most of the athletes are over there, but the United States should have boycotted the whole stupid thing. Instead we're aiding in putting the biggest spotlight available on the monsters who run China for two happy weeks of watching people run fast and jump high.

The Games don't begin until a week from tomorrow, but already the Main Press Center and International Broadcast Center are both filling up with some of the 20,000 media signed up to cover the event. They're finding something strange is happening. They can't access certain websites from their laptops. And they're shocked! Shocked, I tell you! China assured the IOC and the world media seven years ago that journalists would have all the access they've enjoyed at previous Games. Psych!

Foreign journalists uncovered the internet restrictions this week at the Beijing Olympics Main Press Center when attempting to access websites of foreign human rights organizations including Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Reporters Sans Frontières, the Committee to Protect Journalists, and Human Rights in China. Reporters were also unable to access the web pages of Tibetan and Uighur groups, as well as those of the Falun Gong, which the Chinese government has classified as an “evil cult,” including the sites of media outlets associated with the Falun Gong, such as New Tang Dynasty and the Epoch Times. One journalist told Human Rights Watch that although the US State Department’s website was not blocked, its annual human rights report on China would not open.

The IOC, lamely announced Tuesday they were gonna launch a full investigation. Round up the usual suspects! Amnesty International released a damning report of continuing human rights abuses in the host country, but nobody can read it in China. In technical terms, the IOC is a freakin' joke.

“Over the last year, Human Rights Watch has asked the IOC to forcefully intervene with the Chinese government to uphold ‘human dignity’ and ‘fundamental ethics,’ as the Olympic Charter stipulates,” said Sophie Richardson, Asia advocacy director at Human Rights Watch. “But now we know that not only did the IOC fail to do that, it actually helped perpetuate censorship, one of the most common abuses in China today.”

The fearless IOC press chief Kevan Gosper is all over it, don't worry.

"All of these things are a concern and we'll investigate them but our preoccupation is that the media are able to report on the Games as they did in previous Games," he told Reuters.

That a boy, Kev! The Games are what's important! We must have 24-hour coverage of sports in the summertime!

Someone explain this to me. Why the hell are we participating in this and helping to shower China with glorious attention? Are we that afraid of The Big Red Menace? And does anyone really care about the Olympics anyway?

Jeff Dinelli :: 4:22 PM :: Comments (14) :: Digg It!