Beijing Olympics: Opportunity or Mockery

Asia Times Online has been running a three part series on Tibet and in Part 1 they examined the effects of the forthcoming Beijing Olympics on human rights negotiations concerning Tibet but which would also hold true for the Uygur people and other ethnic and religious groups facing human rights vilolations.

To quote from the article:

"When astronaut Yang Liwei rocketed into space on China’s first manned spaceflight, he carried with him the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games banner and China’s national flag. Just like the spaceflight, China’s award of the Olympic Games represents the coming of age for this growing world superpower.

On this historic flight the Olympic Games logo was flown high. But the Chinese government fears that the banner will be dragged through the dirt by protestors when the games begin. ‘Free Tibet’ and human rights agitators are gearing up to protest, and the government does not want their glorious sports epic sullied by dissent at home or abroad. "


We gave Beijing the Olympics and I wonder in doing so did we take into consideration one of the Olympic Ideals

"Olympism is a philosophy of life, exalting and combining in a balanced whole the qualities of body, will and mind. Blending sport with culture and education, Olympism seeks to create a way of life based on the joy found in effort, the educational value of good example and respect for universal fundamental ethical principles." Olympic Charter, Fundamental Principles, 2.

"Fundamental Ethical Principals" three words that do not describe China’s stance on Human Rights.

But the decision is made and possibly provides very real opportunities to elicit change from Beijing.

As the Asia Times article postulates China is fearful that it will lose face in front of the world if the Beijing Olympics is used to highlight their human rights violations.

Now this can go one of two ways two ways, either China will, over the next four and a bit years, attempt to address their shortcomings in a positive manner or it will employ extreme measures to make sure that the likes of the "Uygur and Tibetan Questions" do not raise (from China’s perspective) their "ugly heads" and spoil the show.

If it is the latter you can expect it to quite brutal. A possible scenario is as follows

1. One to two years out a series of mass detentions will occur of those people within China likely to attempt to cause any disruption. The timing will allow for the ensuing ruckus to die down.

2. Tibet and Xinjiang will be "Locked Down" with travel by Uygurs or Tibetans outside these areas forbidden in the lead up to and during the Olympics.

3. Tibet and Xinjiang will be "locked down" and travel to these areas by foreigners will be denied on the basis of a jumped up "terrorist threat"

None of these actions are really in the spirit of the Olympics.

It is time now, some four years out, that the message be given to the Chinese in no uncertain terms that actions of this type will not be countenanced.

As well the "free" world must use this run up to the Beijing Olympics to press for change in Beijing’s policies towards it’s ethnic minorities and religious groups.

We have a marvelous opportunity here that should not be squandered. We can, if we do it right, make the Beijing Olympics a celebration of a Brave New World. If we don’t we will expose the whole Olympic ideal as a mockery and a sham.