The Olympics’ shame

19May08

Chinese human right abuses have been a distant secret for far too long, and it is about time the global media set its sites on the mysterious regime.

Of course, pundits frequently argue that sport and politics should be kept separate, but that surely becomes a pretty remote consideration when you think how much could be achieved by using the Olympic Games for public protest.

Many Tibetan students, labour activists and Tibetan nationalists have been arrested, tortured and “disappeared” by the current regime.

If we add to this the flooding of homes on the Yangtze river in the 1990s during the building of the Three Gorges Dam, and the murder and the widespread torture of members of the Fallon Gong religious sect, China has a very large catalogue of human rights abuses.

A tortured and maimed member of the Falun Gong sect

Protests

Indeed, the many past Olympic games protests, such as the Black Power salutes and the boycotting of apartheid South Africa, all helped to effect important political changes.

We need only think back to Mohammed Ali’s vociferous support for black rights to know just how much a sportsman can acheive.

Sydney’s secret shame

It was an awful shame, then, that few used the 2000 Sydney Olympic games for political protest, and that most of the British press ignored the plight of the Australian Aborigines who lived in squalor close to the stadium.

They could, for example, have mentioned that life expectancy for aboriginals is around 20 years lower than white Australians, and that male suicide rates are among the highest for any of the world’s ethnicities.

 Homeless aboriginal woman

They could also have shown that sprinter Cathy Freeman was far from a typical aboriginal athlete.

Countless exemplary black Australian sports people were segregated from white athletes and refused access to decent facilities. Some even died in poverty and despair.

Racists

Prime Minister John Howard’s government was, at the time, the only “Western” one to be branded racist by Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, and continued to resist human rights reforms.

People – the majority – come above a sports event, particularly when their human rights have been violated.

It is our moral duty, then, to protest at the top of our voices, even if this does ruin the games for everybody else.

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One Response to “The Olympics’ shame”

  1. 1 Florentina

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