This guest post is by my sister, Mile Hi Mama of Mama Says. She graciously wrote this at my request.
I have often decried the fact that Beijing is hosting this year’s Olympic events. Hosting the Olympics creates a sense of legitimacy for a government, a tacit world-wide approval as each country sends their most elite athletes to compete in a spirit of brotherhood. China's human rights abuses, in my opinion, were simply too egregious to ignore. Then the story came out that the Chinese government had kicked almost two million people out of their homes in order to make the Olympic stadium, and simply bussed them out of town when foreign dignitaries came to visit.
Tibet, which Communist China took over in 1954, is taking advantage of the new attention being paid to that part of the world. Their government-in-exile is led by the Dalai Lama from India.
Interestingly, the Dalai Lama does not want to secede, they merely want autonomy. He acknowledges the many benefits and modernity that has come to Tibet through China. The Tibetan Buddhists simply want to practice their religion in peace.
“Free Tibet” protests have broken out around the world, and are coalescing around the symbol of the Olympics, the Torch. In Paris this week, officials had to extinguish the torch twice in order to smuggle it past the protesters. San Francisco is upping security. Mount Everest is being closed to hikers, both in Nepal and China, when the Olympic torch is scheduled to come through.
Earlier this year, director Steven Spielberg distanced himself from the opening ceremonies (he was helping to design them), citing opposition to China’s involvement in Darfur, Sudan. Increasingly in America, and throughout the world, China has come under fire for human rights abuses, unsafe working conditions, lead laced toiletries, food, and toys, and for their oppressive use of force against their own people. China has also been criticized for its practice of executing criminals without the promised court oversight, and then selling the organs of the deceased for transplantation.
Hillary Clinton has publicly called for President Bush to avoid the opening ceremonies as well, which is quite ironic in light of her appearance as First Lady at the 1995 at the Conference for Women’s Rights in – you guessed it – Beijing. At the time, she was able to remark on the violation of human rights that takes place when children are forcibly ripped from their mother’s womb and killed simply for being a sibling, while standing in the very place such horrendous actions take place. This year, quite a few high profile politicians seem divided as to whether a boycott is the most effective way to cause change. One thing they do agree on is that change in China is necessary.
China exercises tight control of any information its citizens might read. The great Firewall of China effectively blocks any stories, websites, or news that does not line up with the Chinese governments Communist agenda. The average Chinese citizen has no idea that the world is rooting for Tibet, the world criticizes the government for abusing its people, that the world cares about them.
Instead, the Chinese government is telling their people that they have found dynamite and plastic explosives in the Buddhist monasteries, and floats whispers about suicide bombers.
When China became a host city for the Olympics, the Chinese government agreed to allow the foreign journalists uncensored access to the Internet. The Firewall would be lifted, at least for the duration of the event. It might be the only chance for the Chinese people to have unfettered access to the Net. If the Chinese people realized that the world was watching, and for the most part, rooting for an overthrow of the oppressive regime from the inside, what would happen? Could a week's worth of access to the rest of the world change the future of the Chinese people?
I'm for the Chinese Olympics now. It's their only chance.