Wednesday, March 19, 2008

China's Wei Jingsheng Criticizes the IOC

Wei Jingsheng, China's most famous dissident criticizes the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in an Op-Ed piece for the Washington Post today.

"As what the Dalai Lama has called 'cultural genocide' goes on in Tibet, it is wholly unacceptable that Jacques Rogge, the head of the International Olympic Committee, refuses to take a stand against the Beijing government's current crackdown on Tibetan protesters. In fact, this is completely at odds with the 'spirit of the Olympics.'

Far more than Steven Spielberg, who quit his advisory role for the Summer Games because of China's unwillingness to pressure the Sudanese government on genocide in Darfur, the IOC has a special obligation to act. Since promised improvements in China's human rights were a quid pro quo for awarding the Games to Beijing, how can it proceed as if nothing happened when blood is flowing in the streets of Lhasa?"

"Jacques Rogge's unwillingness to pressure Beijing at this moment is so tragic because these Olympics are the turning point in modern Chinese history. Having invited the world to polite tea, the Communist Party rulers have turned their palace of power into a global glass house. They can no longer show both the smiling face of 'a peaceful rise' to the world and the stern face of brutal suppression at home."

It was Wei Jingsheng who in 1979 posted a paper on Beijing's "Democracy Wall" suggesting a "Fifth Modernization", i.e. a democratization of China's political life. In a way, he had taken the great reformer Deng Xiaoping on his own words (Deng had after all blessed the democracy movement when it helped his faction in the Communist Party's power struggle), but he was soon arrested and sentensed to 15 years in prison on bogus charges in a bogus trial. Wei Jingsheng was briefly released in 1993 in a ploy to convince the IOC to give China the Olympics in 2000, but was re-arrested in 1994 and imprisoned again until his final release in 1997. Today he lives in Washington, D.C.

Here is a link to the article:
China's True Face - The Host of the Olympics or the Thug of Tibet?

Hans Sandberg

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