There is an international movement to boycott the 2008 Summer Olympics in China to shame that nation for its complicity in the continuing genocide in Darfur, which has extended into Chad. And now there is another reason for embarrassing China: The invaluable New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists reports that China imprisons more journalists than any other country in the world. After all, its leaders have so much to hide.
And as The Washington Post disclosed (July 18): "Despite numerous assurances that it would allow greater media freedom in the lead-up to the 2008 Summer Olympics, the Chinese government has again tightened media controls."
Moreover, Robert Menard, Secretary General of the Paris-based Reporters Without Borders an especially active force for press freedoms adds that China is "by far the world's biggest prison for journalists, cyber-dissidents and Internet users where more than a hundred are being held without due process, most under terrible conditions."
When representatives of the Committee to Protect Journalists went to Lausanne, Switzerland, last year to tell the International Olympic Committee of its concerns, Executive Director Gilbert Felli declined to raise their issues with the Chinese government because, he said, "It is not within our mandate to act as an agent for concerned groups."
Coolly, Felli continued, "Journalists are arrested all over the world, sometimes for good reasons, sometimes for bad reasons."
Therefore, it will not be the International Olympic Committee's concern if Chinese journalists are arrested for how they report any protests at these games that their government passionately desires will bring much needed luster to China's image worldwide.
After the CPJ's meeting with the IOC, board member Jane Kramer of The New Yorker made this point that American and international companies sponsoring the Beijing Olympic should be reminded of:
"We are very concerned that once the closing ceremonies are held and international attention fades, Chinese journalists will bear the brunt of official retribution for reporting any news that the government deems unfavorable."
Inevitably, as the world watches the games on television, there will be brave reminders from some members in the audience, and even from some of the athletes, of lethal arms from China being used in the Darfur genocide; the vicious Chinese misrule in Tibet; its imprisonment of Catholic priests and nuns and, of course, of the mass murders of students in Tiananmen Square.
Chinese journalists who try to report within China or send to foreign media protests at the games against any of these characteristic crimes against humanity by the Chinese government will join Chinese Internet writer and editor Zhang Jianhong in prison. As CPJ reports, "Two days before his arrest and imprisonment (in September 2006) on charges of 'inciting subversion,' Zhang had posted an essay criticizing China's human-rights record in the run-up to the 2008 Olympics."
Meanwhile, the rising tide of repugnance at relentlessly oppressive China hosting the Olympics is manifest in such American cities as New York. On July 25, The New York Sun reported on a number of City Council members introducing a resolution "asking all corporate sponsors of the 2008 Beijing Olympics with headquarters and operations in New York" to pressure the Chinese government about its role in the genocidal atrocities in Darfur.
This resolution before the City Council goes on to call on each of these sponsors to remove support for the summer games the Sun continues "if the Chinese government doesn't sever its financial connections with Sudan or leverage its connections to hold Sudan accountable for ending genocide in Darfur before Dec. 31, 2007."
These commendable politicians concerned with more than their own constituencies in New York specifically name in their resolution those sponsors of the games with operations in New York.
Readers also opposing genocide might want to communicate their concerns to Johnson & Johnson, Coca-Cola, General Electric and Kodak. And the resolution makes the telling point that General Electric is the parent of NBC, which, say these activists, paid $894 million for broadcasting rights to the Beijing Olympics.
If these shaming efforts don't succeed, China will brush them off, and, as Geoffrey Wheatcroft, writing about the Nazi Olympics of 1936 in the July 8 New York Times, predicts: "The Chinese government will suspend executions for a few weeks (before the games) and be able to say (at the opening ceremony) 'A beautiful day, a great day.' Those were Goebbels words after the opening ceremony in 1937, adding 'A victory for the German cause.'"