Olympics: Men of Conscience should Raise HR Issue
By Prof. Kanbawza Win
The original purpose of the Olympic Games, both ancient and modern, is to foster the ideal of, “A sound mind in a sound body,” and to promote friendship among the nations. The Official Olympic Anthem runs “Immortal spirit of Antiquity, Father of the Beautiful and Good.” How can these ideals be applied to Beijing, when it is the very heart of all the evil and President Hu Jingtao ranks as the most ruthless human rights violator of the world? People have to consider the consequences of the government already a totalitarian and dictatorial against its own people and other nations particularly Burma and Sudan.
The Beijing Games serve as a conclusive proof that sports and politics are connected and is purely an image booster in the international arena and legitimacy at home. Lamentably sports has become politics nowadays as it bring image to the country and that major international companies and business enterprises and all top athletes no matter of what country they came from are professionals, to show their prowess in the world. Since Socialist states especially China consider, a sport victory as an affair of state importance, these athletes are trained and treated as state assets. It became increasingly difficult for athletes of other smaller countries like Burma, ASEAN, Africa and Latin American countries, who do not have the resources to train professionally to compete or to realise the political implications and values to compete successfully against China and other big countries.
The Beijing Olympic organizers are evicting tenants to make room for castors, shutting down factories to reduce pollution, plotting to control the weather, staging rallies to teach English and ordering Beijing’s brusque citizens to mind their manners. What ever it takes, the organizers are determined to put on the grandest Games and make them a symbol of the Communist nation’s arrival as a global power to be reckoned with. A series of recent scandals involving contaminated food and consumer goods in China has only heightened the urgency for Beijing, to put on a good face for the more than 10,000 athletes and over half a million visitors expected. China will dole out a record of $40 billion on stadium and airport and subway improvement more than twice of what Greece spend on the last Athens Olympic. It wants to show off its model of efficiency as sports venues and athlete houses were completed well ahead of the schedule time.
However, the other side is that well documented humanitarian groups has proven that the Chinese government has evicted more than one and a half a million (according to the Geneva bases Centre Housing Rights and Evictions) people to clear the way for venues and other Olympic facilities. At least in this aspect it has copied from the Burmese military Junta of forced relocation and eviction meted out to the Burmese people. Just like the Burmese army had done, many of Beijing’s displaced tenants have been given little or no notice and forced evictions have been violent with fatalities. The evicted residents are given little or nor compensation at all and many of them have become homeless. In fact the Chinese clearance of residence is unprecedented double the number relocated by the Seoul Olympics of 1988 except that it could not beat the Burmese Junta in this aspect.
Pollution is a chronic problem in Beijing, there is usually a yellowish mix of factory emissions, car exhaust and Gobi Desert sand and for this Beijing will spend $ 3 billion on pollution control alone. It will ordered one million cars of gridlock streets to cut traffic and auto emissions, last year alone Beijing removed 15,000 old taxis and 3,000 buses much to the hardship of its citizens. It has closed several factories and leading factories as Capital Iron and Steel Works are schedule to reduce production before moving to an island in Bohai Bay. At a time when International Energy Agency says that China is surpassing USA as the world’s top produce of greenhouse gas, the Chinese are also tooting their efforts to create an environmentally friendly green Olympic. What more the Olympic officials are planning to control the rain to keep outdoors events dry. They will blasts clouds with rockets carrying chemicals designed to make it rain quickly, so the storm will be over before the events begin. Besides zapping the clouds, the Chinese will roll out their technology to impress the world. Athletes won’t carry keys in the Olympic village, their room doors will open when they show up their faces. Camera on the doors will be linked to the digital recognition scanners.
What can the world do in face of such a formidable giant, will humanitarian have a say in Beijing Olympics? Obviously the Chinese will not tolerate dissent. When the Olympic torch relay route was announced, Tibetan activists oppose Beijing’s plan to take the torch to Mount Everest and Taiwan wants the torch to pass through it, were of no avail. Wang Wei, the Secretary General of the Beijing Olympic Organizing Committee said that “we have laws that if you want to protest you will have to apply”, which they will not approve. They will arrest anybody that dares to protest and shipped them thousands of miles away.
The Amnesty International says that China has failed to improve human rights, a promise which the government makes before it was awarded the Olympics. Persecution of civil rights groups and the censoring of domestic media are still going on in might and main. What more the Chinese government misuses it “re-education through labor” system to detain activists. This system has been in place since 1957 and can keep an activist for four years without trial. No doubt the Beijing Olympic will be on the model of the Moscow Olympic of 1980 where the late President Ronald Regan was bold enough to boycott but in Beijing one of the smiling faces will be President George W Bush, a barometer of how American morality has changed.
Burma is the first nation outside the Communist bloc to recognize the People’s Republic of China in 1949; the first to conclude a Treaty of Friendship and Mutual Non-Aggression in 1961; the first to achieve a boundary settlement with China in 1961; and one of the first to patch up relations with Beijing after the Cultural Revolution. But also ironically is the first dictator to congratulate Beijing’s crackdown on demonstrators in Tiananmen Square when Beijing made a carbon copy of the Burmese army shooting into the crowds on the 8th day of the 8th month (August) of the year 1988 better known as 8888. Now to mock the Burmese democracy movement, the Beijing Olympic is schedule at 8 pm on the 8th month of the year 2008 as 8 is the lucky number for the Chinese in as much as 9 is the lucky number of Ne Win and his cohorts. Every patriotic Burmese should join the boycott of the Beijing Olympic and we should support of what Ko Aung Din of US Campaign for Burma, to demonstrate in front of every Chinese embassy of the world to show our disapproval. Every Burmese Diaspora people should joined the conscious people of the international community to protest this genocidal Olympic.
China had sold jet fighters, frigates and other heavy military equipment for the Burmese military Junta to crack down on the ethno democratic force and together with Russia is also the first nation to veto the Burmese problem from discussing at the UN Security Council effectively stuffing out the ethno democratic aspirations of the Burmese people. Very lately the Burmese Foreign Minister Nyan Win made an unpublicized, if not a secret; visit to meet Chinese State Councilor Tang Jiaxuan in Zhongnanhai, the headquarters of the Chinese government to confirm the Chinese veto in case Burma was put up at the UN Security Council by the West particularly from European Union. Earlier in June, China hosted a secret meeting between senior US State Department officials and Burmese ministers in Beijing with the aim of diffusing the vocal critic of Washington over Burma, even though the Burmese Premier was already brief by Wen Jiabao of the Chinese support in the 9th ASEAN plus China, in Kuala Lumpur. The bottom line is that, aside from packages of aid and business deals, Burmese leaders can’t bark or bite without China’s political and moral support resulting in the organized thugs roaming at will with ferocity as the year advanced.
China’s long-touted policy of not interfering in the “internal affairs” of other states is running contradictory to a broader definition of national interests and a greater willingness to embrace global institutions and international norms — and to use them to advance its foreign-policy goals as a way of shoring up the Olympic game in Beijing. It seems hypocritical to witness a small Chinese army contingent as part of the UN and African force to stop the violence in Darfur region, when it has all the time supporting the Khartoum based Sudanese government with oil purchases and weapon sales, another bigger Burma scenario. If China wants to play a magnanimous big power role in Southeast Asia, she should support the genocide regime of Burma. Any way there is a Burmese saying of “Khwe Mee Kaug Che Dauk Sout“ meaning one cannot make the tail of the dog to be straight by just putting it into a bamboo pipe as the Burmese call them they will be just Tayoke meaning Mr Mean. The classic example being their critical role in North Korea’s ambition of the atomic bomb and even now is opposing the coercive action of Iran. Burma is just a small fry, the true color of the Chinese will appear once the Beijing Olympic is over.
How can the premier event in international sports be hosted by a nation complicit in the most heinous international crimes? The Chinese regime is guilty of perpetrating the ongoing destruction of Tibet, supporting the vicious Burmese Junta, engaging in gross domestic human rights abuses, and, perhaps worst of all, facilitating genocide in Darfur and Burma? Beijing’s currently enabling attitudes is a real threat that “their” Olympics will be redefined, made the occasion of an unprecedented shaming campaign. Much more potent than a simple boycott–which does more to punish athletes and the entire international sports community–such a campaign, broadly supported, will create precisely the powerful forum for outrage that Beijing works so hard to suppress domestically. But, if the world pretends that the 2008 Games occur in a moral and political vacuum and yet if Darfur and Burma’s agony continues, these Games will inevitably be remembered as the “Genocide Olympic”.
Burma has a long recorded history of fighting the Chinese for 2,000 years and if our fore fathers could successfully fought why we can’t? We have always known that Chinese’s Imperialism, is using the policy of a great nation to lord it over its peripherals and would not allow a country at its back door to become democracy. Even at the height of the 8888 demonstrations when the US warships including aircraft carrier Coral Sea appeared in the Burmese waters and rumors were rife that the US would come and help the people of Burma against the hated Tatamadaw, China was massing up its army at the border region to take Shan State with the then Communist Party of Burma as a front man (read the theory of Maung Aung Myo) thus proving the Burmese oracle of Ta Yoke Ka Phi, Shan Ka Ei, She The Bama A Nauk Hmar meaning the Chinese will press on to lord over the Shan while the Burmese will let it happens staying in the side lines at the back. The Chinese had taken Sip Hsong Panna from Shan State and now they want all of Shan state especially east of the Salween River.
Even now the unofficial count of the Chinese in Burma comes to five million who are highly prosperous, while the country of fifty five million plus are desperately poor and with the monks and the 8888 generation movement heightening the tensions every day, there is every possibility that the law takes into its own hands and obviously the first attack will be on the hated local Chinese. But the men from the Dragon throne are willing to pay the price, for this will give China a good pretext to invade Burma.
Now that Burma’s problem has gone up to the UNSC where Gambari has informed that the developments in Burma have serious concerns in the international community and once again underscore the urgency to step up the international efforts. This means that the Security Council will have to decide at which point the situation warrants a response. The paradoxical Chinese position is that still adheres to the old position of Burma is not a threat to international peace and security and probability will use another veto on any UNSC resolution on Burma. The bottom line is that China cannot allow democracy to flourish in its backdoor. Hence every Burmese must do its best to protest the Chinese and shame them in the international eyes, proving beyond doubt that this big bully is not worthy of leading the international community. One can start with raising Human Rights issues at Beijing Olympic games.
Professor Win, aka Dr Ba Thann Win, former Secretary of Foreign Affairs of the Prime Minister of Burma has served as a Distinguished Visiting Professor at the Menno Simons College of University of Winnipeg and later as a Senior Research Fellow at the European Institute of Asian Studies, Brussels is now the incumbent Dean of the Students of the AEIOU Programme, Chiangmai University Thailand and Professor of the School of International Studies, Simon Fraser University, of British Columbia, Canada, filed this report from Paris.