Activists urge IOC to stop China from hosting Olympics

Some delegates compare situation with 1936 Games in Nazi Germany

Delegates from a wide variety of professions including politics, law, academia and human rights advocacy around the world concluded a forum in Taipei yesterday on human rights and the 2008 Olympics, calling on the International Olympic Committee to stop China from perpetuating human rights violations.
They urged the IOC to request that the Chinese Olympic National committee adhere to the fundamental spirit of the Olympic Games and abolish the announced exclusion of Falun Gong practitioners from the 2008 Olympics in a joint statement issued after the two-day international forum.
The IOC should "ensure respect for equal rights for all to participate in the 2008 Olympic Games," the statement read.
A global petition calling for the IOC's attention on the issue has been launched at the same time, human rights activists disclosed.
The forum was organized by the Coalition to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong in China and the Taiwan Culture Foundation.
Some attendants argued on the first day of the forum that major powers' disregard of China's human rights violations in the run-up to the 2008 Beijing Olympics is reminiscent of what happened during the 1936 Berlin Olympics.
Nazi authorities held high hopes that hosting the 1936 Berlin Olympics would showcase the so-called German economic miracle and assert Germany's world power status. The Olympics in China seem to be set in exactly the same mould, said Seweryn Ozdowski, former commissioner of the Commonwealth of Human Rights in Australia.
In 1936, Nazi dictatorship was already well established with it came political executions without trial, censorship of the media, abolition of the freedom of association and the racist Nurnberg Laws, he said.
Michel Wu, former director of the Mandarin service of Radio France International, echoed Ozdowski, saying that the Communist Party of China has not improved its human rights situation over the past 10 years.
"Despite this, the Western democracies have decided to overlook these developments in the name of unity for the Olympics," he said.
While a number of celebrities, including American film director Steven Spielberg and various non-government organizations have called for a boycott of the Beijing Olympics, most Western countries have decided to participate.
"Many Western governments, including my own, are afraid to offend Beijing, fearing that to raise the issue of human rights in a serious way would jeopardize trade and other links. Businesses, especially those with subsidiaries in China and including media organizations, also fear offending China," said Peter Westmore, chairman of the Austria-based National Civil Council.
The human rights advocates said that since the Chinese government has violated the commitment it made to improve its human rights record before the Olympic Games and that the human rights situation in China has even deteriorated since the country was awarded the Games, China no longer has the moral right to host the event.