Earlier this week ConservativeHome highlighted Edward McMillan-Scott’s concerns about UK participation in the Beijing Olympics. In this article the Tory MEP for Yorkshire & Humber, Vice-President of the European Parliament and founder of the EU’s
Democracy and Human Rights Initiative lists his concerns about China and why it might be necessary to shun the ‘Genocide Olympics’.
The year-long countdown to the 2008 Beijing Olympics was celebrated by
the Chinese regime with a firework display in Tiananmen Square – the
focus of the June 1989 massacre of thousands of human rights
activists. Massed dancers performed under the bland portrait of Mao
Tse-tung, who murdered without qualms more than 70 million of his own
people, 38 million through starvation.
Outside China, numerous reports were produced by human rights
organisations such as Amnesty International. Reporters without Borders
said “despite the explicit undertakings it gave to the International
Olympic Committee (IOC) in 2001, the Chinese government has done
nothing to improve free expression or human rights in general…. Every
year several thousand Chinese are executed in public, often in
stadiums, by means of a bullet in the back of the neck or lethal
Simon Clegg, chief executive of the British Olympic Association, said
he would not succumb to pressure from human rights groups or
politicians over participation in what promises to be the most
controversial games since the US boycott of the 1980 Moscow Olympics.
However, this view that sport and politics don’t mix defies the Olympic
Charter itself. Article 1 says it “seeks to create a way of life based
on the joy of effort, the educational value of good example and respect
for universal fundamental ethical principles”, surely the most
universal of which is the UN Human Rights Charter?
It was the IOC itself which decided to exclude South Africa from the
games in 1964 as part of a world-wide campaign against apartheid.
Britain’s prime minister Gordon Brown, with the help of French
president Nicolas Sarkozy and with all-party support at home, has shown
a new foreign policy activism by making the genocide in Darfur his
first priority. It is Chinese support for the murderous Sudanese
government which has led Mia Farrow to call the Beijing games the
But there is still genocide inside China. Hundreds of thousands are in
‘administrative detention’. The world’s biggest country is becoming
explosive, with tensions arising from huge distortions in wealth
leading to corruption, a collapsing environment and universal
repression of any dissent – including the ‘great firewall of China’.
Of all the iniquities, possibly the greatest is the assault on
religious activity in recent years. Ironically, as in the ex-Soviet
bloc, religion could be the regime’s downfall.
The Vatican has until now accepted the appointment of its senior
clerics by the Communist Party of China but is becoming restive;
several million Catholics secretly appoint their own bishops.
Underground Anglican churches too abound. Muslims have been shot for
“separatism” and those with passports have had them removed this year,
to prevent them from making the Haj.
Patient and proud, Tibetans have suffered humiliation since Chinese
troops occupied their lovely country in 1951. Beijing rules with a
heavy hand, enforcing strict controls on religious activity. It
routinely vilifies the 71-year-old Dalai Lama, and imprisoned his
chosen successor, the ‘soul boy’. Beijing has recently sacked hundreds
of Tibetan officials and replaced them with Han loyalists.
The Falun Gong movement, a spiritual Buddhist group, has had the worst
treatment after it grew in only seven years of existence to 100 million
adherents. Over 3,000 Falun Gong have been tortured to death since 1999
by a regime which demands that they recant. Survivors say that they
are the only prisoners who get a health check. Why? One had seen his
friend’s cadaver in the prison hospital with holes where body parts had
been removed. China’s booming organ transplant industry – run by the
Peoples Liberation Army – is harvesting Falun Gong prisoners’ vital
organs to order. They sell at a premium as practitioners neither drink
The Genocide Convention means any acts ‘committed with intent to
destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious
group’. Tragically, China today abounds in examples of continuing
internal genocide. Let us give the regime until Christmas to put the
past aside, or we must apply the Olympic spirit and shun their games.