The IOC and China: What Were They Thinking?

( – promoted by buhdydharma )

First, more news of international protests:

KATHMANDU, March 31 (Reuters) – Nepali police beat pro-Tibet protesters with sticks in Kathmandu on Monday and detained more than 100 people for demonstrating against China, police and witnesses said.

Hundreds of Tibetans split up into small groups and tried to storm a Chinese consular office from different directions in the Nepali capital.

snip

Police said at least 104 men and women were detained and would be freed later.

“They have been detained according to the government policy of not allowing demonstrations against China,” said Bibhutiraj Pandey, a police officer from the scene.

link: http://www.reuters.com/article…

And in Greece:

ATHENS – Greek officials handed over the Olympic flame to organizers of the Beijing Summer Games on Sunday, but demonstrators angered by China’s clampdown in Tibet sought to disrupt the ceremony, evading heavy security to unfurl protest banners.

Shouting “Free Tibet” and flashing red banners blaring “Stop Genocie in Tibet,” the demonstrators charged into a police cordon, trying to block the torch runner carrying the Olympic flame from making the final 100-meter run into an Athens stadium.

Backed by riot squads, scores of police officers detained 10 of an estimated 15 demonstrators, taking them to Greece’s national police headquarters minutes after the ceremony began.

snip

Yet even before the hand-over began, three supporters of the Falun Gong spiritual movement were detained outside the sprawling all-marble Panathinaiko Stadium for distributing leaflets on the movement, which is outlawed in China.

“They continue to remain in police custody and we have been given no reason by the authorities for their arrest,” the Falun Gong supporters’ lawyer, Ignatios Tatoulis, said.

link: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03…

And against the backdrop of the handover ceremony of the Olympic torch in China, authorities there are saying they have “evidence” linking the riots to – as they term it – the “Dalai Lama clique”:

Xinhua, the state-run news agency, said the Chinese police had a confession written by an unidentified monk who they said received orders from supporters of the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan spiritual leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner.

In what an article described as the confession, the monk said: “For the sake of protecting myself, (the Dalai Lama clique) asked me not to participate in the demonstrations in person, just in charge of stirring people up.”

The Chinese government has not held a news conference to identify the monk or explain the circumstances of the confession, so it was not possible to verify either the existence of the monk or of such a statement.

link: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03…

So after all of this, one has to wonder about the International Olympic Committee’s decision to give the games to China in the first place. In perhaps the best interview I’ve heard on this subject, NPR arranged for former Canadian MP David Kilgour to debate this issue with IOC member and former Olympic athlete Anita DeFrantz (who was denied a chance to compete in the 1980 Olymics due to the US boycott).

Kilgour accused the IOC of not having, “a single scruple when dealing with totalitarian governments”, and brought up the fact that the IOC lost giving the 2000 games to China just three years after the Tienamen Square protests by just a few votes. DeFrantz wanted to wait until the games were over, and stated she just wanted the games to flourish and endure. Earlier in the interview when Kilgour brought up China’s financial sponsorship of the government in Darfur conducting the genocide there, DeFrantz seemed not to be aware of this. Kilgour stated in response to DeFrantz’s contention that the games would help to “open up” China to the outside world, “if you think things are going to be better [in China] after the games than before, then you are the most naive person I’ve ever spoken to.”

Link to the full debate is here: http://www.npr.org/templates/s…

In China itself, the games seem to have just stirred a nationalistic fervor:

In China, the arrival of the flame triggered a wave of proud delight. One middle-aged woman from a Beijing district dance group, notified only a day earlier that her team had won a place on Tiananmen Square for the ceremony, said: “We are so happy. This is a great moment for China. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for us.”

The presence of Mr Hu highlighted the significance that China attaches to the Games, starting on August 8. As the president declared the start of a torch relay that will pass through 21 countries and involve more people than ever before, doves were released, red, pink, green and blue balloons fluttered into the sky and drums pounded.

Xi Jinping, the President’s heir-apparent and the man overseeing Olympic preparations, said: “The century-old dream of the Chinese people to host the Olympic Games has been turned into a reality.”

link: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/t…

Whether or not the games have a lasting impact in China vis a vis their record of human rights remains to be seen. What is certain is that both sides of this conflict are committed – almost entrenched – in their positions, with the Dalai Lama’s “middle way” being the only compromise on the table.

Now, if the authorities would just meet with him…

Please keep all sides of this conflict in your thoughts, prayers and meditations.

15 comments

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  1. …but I do believe that things will be better in China after the games.  Or at the least, that this has more of a shot of making things better there than any other damn thing.

    You can’t tell me the eyes of the world would be focused like this on China and Tibet without the games.  “Free Tibet” had become a sort of pop culture joke; “Oh, that Richard Gere, isn’t it cute how much he cares?”  But people all over the world are taking it seriously now.  They care.

  2. … the more I agree that China must meet with the Dalai Lama.

    It isn’t about Tibet becoming autonomous, imo.  It’s about the cultural genocide going on there and how it can be stopped.

    I don’t see any other way to resolve this … and it seems to be spreading to other causes as well (i.e., Falun Gong, etc.).

    China does itself no favors by taking the hard line stance we’re seeing in the kinds of stories you are posting.

    And again, thanks so much for continuing to cover this story, grannyhelen.

    • TMC on March 31, 2008 at 6:47 pm

    and reading as much as there is in the mainstream corporate media, print and electronic. Your diaries with links and discussion are the most informative. I have e-mailed them to some family and friends who were considering going to China. After reading your diaries, many have changed their plans and a few, like my household, will not even watch the Olympics.

    Thanks.

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