Subject: whu~* Bejing Olympics boycott call,
Date: Wed, 22 Aug 2001 00:01:55 -0700
From: "Blazing Star" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
'Boycott Beijing Olympics' Campaign Launched
By Patrick Goodenough CNSNews.com London Bureau Chief
August 21, 2001
London (CNSNews.com) - A press freedom group Tuesday launched
to generate international support for a boycott of the 2008 Olympic Games in
Beijing, because of China's human rights record.
Reporters Sans Frontieres (Reporters Without Borders) conceded
the backing of major governments a boycott would never materialize, but said a
campaign had to begin somewhere.
The organization has set up a href="http://www.boycottbeijing2008.net
"websites in English and French, and it is encouraging Internet users to sign a
"Given the massive human rights violations in China, it seems
us that the Chinese government be allowed the right to host the world's most
prestigious sporting event," it reads in part.
The petition is addressed to U.N. member states, which are urged
voice their disapproval of the International Olympic Committee's decision to
grant the 2008 Games to Beijing, and to support a boycott.
The Paris-based group said the reasons used to justify a U.S.-led
around 60 nations of the 1980 Olympics in Moscow were relevant in Beijing's
As the Soviet Union had invaded Afghanistan, so too has China
possession of Tibet, Xinjiang and Inner Mongolia, it said, charging that the
Chinese today infringes human rights more vigorously than the Soviets had
done in the late 1970s.
"The Olympic movement was discredited in 1936, when it allowed
the Nazis to
make the Games a spectacle to glorify the Third Reich," said RSF. "In 1980, in
Moscow, the IOC suffered a terrible defeat when more than 50 countries
boycotted the Olympics.
"In 2008, the international sporting movement must refuse to
tolerate one of
the world's bloodiest dictatorships."
'We have to find other ways'
RSF, which monitors and reports on infringements of press freedom
says China is a major violator of this and other basic human rights.
Since the IOC selected Beijing as host city in mid-July, it said,
China had not eased.
"As long as the Chinese government does not release political
refuses to have negotiations with the [exiled Tibetan leader] Dalai Lama and
does not put an end to censorship, our campaign will not stop," said RSF
general secretary Robert M\'e9nard.
RSF spokesman Vincent Brossel said from Paris Tuesday the group
the enormity of the challenge, but was already picking up support in Europe and
North America, especially among sportsmen.
Some Tibetan groups and exiled Chinese dissident have also voiced
support for the boycott campaign, he said.
Brossel conceded that leading human rights groups, such as Human
Watch and Amnesty International, were unlikely to support the campaign.
But new tactics had to be found, he insisted. "Each year human
organizations go to Geneva to try to see China condemned by the U.N. Human
Rights Commission. Every year we are depressed, because China is too strong.
We have to find other ways, and I think the pressure that civil society can put
on our governments is very important."
Brossel noted that European countries and the U.S. had been "very
the IOC voted in favor of Beijing on July 13.
"They said, 'We don't know if it's good news, but we hope it
will help [improve]
human rights and have a positive impact.' But they have to do more, they have
to set some conditions," he argued.
The Americans and Europeans knew that diplomatic pressure on
China had in
the past proved highly effective in persuading the authorities to free
pro-democracy activists, he said.
Brossel challenged the view that hosting the Olympics may force
the Chinese to
improve their human rights record. In recent meetings with prominent
Soviet-era dissidents in Russia, he said, he had learnt that this had not been
the case in the Soviet Union in 1980.
The Moscow Olympics had no positive effect at all, they told
him. The only good
thing to come out of the episode was the boycott, which had awoken many
Soviet citizens to the realization that their country was out of step with much of
the international community.
"It's completely wrong to say the Olympic Games helped with the
democratization of Russia. It was the boycott itself that had the impact."
Brossel said it was too early to say how the campaign would go,
and how much
support the petition would generate. Also, much could happen in the seven
years between now and the Beijing Olympics.
But he expressed optimism that the boycott strategy could be
an effective one.
"A lot of people like to watch the Olympic Games. Maybe they will be conscious
that if it is in Beijing, it will be shameful. People do not like to have a bad
conscience, to see that the athletes are enjoying the Games, but at the same
time people are in jail and in Tibet the repression is going on.
"We have to act more on the conscience of people, and I think
they will follow
In his 1981 book, Political History of the Olympic Games, author
David B. Kanin
wrote that while the Moscow boycott did not succeed in moving the Games from
the Soviet capital, it did rob the authorities of the sense of international
legitimacy hosting the Games normally confers on the host country.
"There was no way for the Soviet government to hide from its
people the depth
of anger over Afghanistan, nor to embellish an event now largely reduced to the
level of a Warsaw Pact inter-army game," Kanin wrote.
"This does not mean that Soviet citizens began to question government
only that they knew that many countries doubted Soviet explanations of it."
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