welcome to the future
March 18, 2008 3 Comments
Yesterday, in response to a report that hundreds of Tibetans have been killed since March 10, 2008, lestro wondered, “what if they hosted an Olympics and no one came?” and that made a lot of sense when we were just looking at the reports collected by Boing Boing, including this:
It was impossible not to notice that the United States removed China from its list of top 10 human rights violators just as the biggest anti-China protests in 20 years erupted in Tibet.
[…] China had a chance to shine for its Olympic coming-out party and is blowing it. Its leaders will continue to have to battle protests and unrest — and endure international reproach — until they ensure more freedom for all their citizens, including greater religious tolerance and freedom for Tibet.
from the New York Times Editorial Board, that maybe missed a bit of news before going to print with the phrase ‘international reproach,’ because it turns out that when it comes to the Olympics, it is exactly the opposite:
The European Union is not in favor of a growing call for a boycott of the Beijing Olympics to express disapproval over China’s crackdown on pro-independent movements in Tibet.
[…] Russia even supported the Chinese government. In a statement, Russia’s Foreign Ministry said, “Russia has repeatedly declared that it views Tibet as an inalienable part of China, and considers the resolution of relations with the Dalai Lama to be an internal matter of the People’s Republic of China.”
Even the Dalai Lama, although he condemned China for its rule of terror and cultural genocide, stopped short of calling for a boycott of the Olympic games.
[…] [Thomas Bach, German vice president of the International Olympic Committee] stressed sports organizations are not world governments and cannot solve problems that decades of international leaders and head of governments had tried, but likewise failed.
The Olympics are an international gesture of goodwill and an economic boom for the country hosting it. Historically, it has not been immune from being drawn into the fray of international conflicts. Fundamentally, it is a diplomatic exercise whether it wants to be or not.
Martin Luther King, Jr. sums it up well:
The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people.
What other option exists besides using the Olympics as leverage to stop massive human rights violations? Or from another angle, how about an analogy: your friend is having a big party, it requires a lot of preparation and there is a lot of money involved. Your friend has been an asshole in general for the longest time, but then your buddy goes out and brutally murders a lot of people. Your friend gets away with it, no one steps up to impose any consequences. You can impose a consequence, take your participation away from the big party, withdraw your money and let your friend know that mass murder is unacceptable. Or you could continue on with your party, and keep finding ways to justify your participation as the brutality continues right alongside the opening ceremonies and events for that big party.
… the spreading protests fall two weeks before China’s celebrations for the Beijing Olympics kick off with the start of the torch relay, which will pass through Tibet.
Though many were small in scale, the widening Tibetan protests are forcing Beijing to pursue suppression while on the run, from town to town and province to province across its vast western region. Sunday’s lockdown in Tongren required police imported from other towns, the locals said.
UPDATE: well, maybe the New York Times meant something like this:
Human Rights Watch, which has not been pushing for a boycott, may soon change its stance and urge heads of state not to go to the opening ceremony, said Sophie Richardson, the New York-based group’s Asia advocacy director. So far, the group has been suggesting that foreign leaders “think long and hard” about whether they want to seen alongside China’s leadership, she said in a telephone interview.
“Their presence at the games is going to be represented and reported by the Chinese government as a sign of approval,” she added.