April 10, 2008

Say No to Olympics from China

I had referred to the IFEX call for the release of Hu Jia, a Beijing-based advocate for AIDS sufferers as well as the environment and human rights, in my recent post, The Other Religion. Last week, Hu Jia was sentenced to three and one half year prison term for subversion of the state. He was also deprived of political and free speech rights. As if there were any in this communist-totalitarian state!

On September 10, 2007, Hu Jia, along with Teng Biao, a lawyer and human rights activist, wrote a letter, The Real China and the Olympics, to the Human Right Watch. Here are some excerpts:

When you come to the Olympic Games in Beijing, you will see skyscrapers, spacious streets, modern stadiums and enthusiastic people. You will see the truth, but not the whole truth, just as you see only the tip of an iceberg. You may not know that the flowers, smiles, harmony and prosperity are built on a base of grievances, tears, imprisonment, torture and blood...

... We are going to tell you the truth about China. We believe that for anyone who wishes to avoid a disgraceful Olympics, knowing the truth is the first step. Fang Zheng, an excellent athlete who holds two national records for the discus throw at China's Special Sport Games, has been deprived of the opportunity to participate in the 2008 Paralympics because he has become a living testimony to the June 4, 1989 [Tiananmen Square] massacre...

... The blind activist Chen Guangcheng, recipient of the 2007 Ramon Magsaysay Award and named in 2006 by Time Magazine as one of the most influential 100 people shaping our world, is still serving his sentence of four years and three months for exposing the truth of forced abortion and sterilization... On August 24, 2007, Chen's wife, Yuan Weijing, was kidnapped by police at the Beijing airport while waiting to fly to the Philippines to receive the Ramon Magsaysay Award on behalf of her husband...

... China still practices literary inquisition and holds the world record for detaining journalists and writers, as many as several hundred since 1989 according to incomplete statistics. As of this writing, 35 Chinese journalists and 51 writers are still in prison...

... On September 30, 2006, Chinese soldiers opened fire on 71 Tibetans who were escaping to Nepal. A 17-year-old nun died and a 20-year-old man was severely injured. Despite numerous international witnesses, the Chinese police insisted that the shooting was in self-defense. One year later, China tightened its control over the Tibetan Buddhism...

... China has the highest death penalty rate in the world. Execution statistics are treated as “state secrets.” However, experts estimate that 8,000-10,000 people are sentenced to death in China every year, among them not only criminals and economic convicts, but totally innocent citizens, such as Nie Shubin, Teng Xingshan, Cao Haixin and Hugejiletu, whose innocence was proven only after they were already dead...

• Please be aware that the Olympic Games will be held in a country where there are no elections, no freedom of religion, no independent courts, no independent trade unions; where demonstrations and strikes are prohibited; where torture and discrimination are supported by a sophisticated system of secret police; where the government encourages the violation of human rights and dignity, and is not willing to undertake any of its international obligations.

• Please consider whether the Olympic Games should coexist with religious persecution, labor camps, modern slavery, identity discrimination, secret police and crimes against humanity.


The entire letter in PDF format, may be downloaded from the Human Rights Watch website.

The least we can do under the circumstances is to pledge not to watch any TV broadcast of the 2008 Olympic events. If you'd like, you may choose to sign any of the multitude of pledges to this effect on the web. I have signed the one posted here.

Hat tip to Sri for the link to Hu Jia and Teng Biao's letter via email.

  1. the 18-20 year old athletes would sure be disappointed.

  2. Sri,
    Tuning off from the TV broadcasts of the Olympics should not prevent the athletes from competing or winning. Sure, lack of the virtual viewers may disappoint them a bit, but considering what is at stake here, it's a small price to pay.

  3. you could always boycott the sponsors, but watch the games.

  4. Would you recommend watching the olympics if they were hosted by, say, the United States?


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