The 2008 Olympics is about to begin in a couple of days in Beijing. Like many in the world, I love this great athletic event showcasing one of the best cooperative enterprises of mankind. It always inspires me.
This year’s event has caused me to pause and think about a couple of things. When the Olympic torch was passing through San Francisco there was associated with it, as with other places that the torch was routed through, protests with the Free Tibet movement.
Tibet has been vying for years to become independent from China. Most of it is centered on what is considered China’s unlawful occupation of Tibet by force by the People’s Liberation Army. The enforcement of their rule has resulted in several human rights violations from torture, rapes and other atrocities. Refugees have also reported abuses at borders.
Although focus has been brought to the Tibetan cause by such luminaries as the Dalai Lama and Hollywood Actor Richard Gere, the media and western governments have not prioritized the issue as a high agenda item. This has been due to political expediency in creating a more favorable political climate with a growing economic power in China.
I can see why Tibetan advocates are trying to use the Olympic stage as a venue to bring light to their cause. Recently, in a community blog on a website that I like, there was an ongoing debate about whether groups like this should bring their political views to the Olympic stage. You can imagine how the arguments got heated.
I could understand both sides of the debate. There is the side where the Olympics should be a place where we leave all the political baggage aside and for a couple of weeks we come together as nations of the world to compete in peace and enjoy goodwill. There is something about that which lifts the spirit and engenders hope.
There is the other side. Billions of dollars are spent on two weeks of athletic events that bring nations together but what are the results of these events on the world stage? Does it change anything? Are there certain human rights violations that we cannot turn a blind eye on even for two weeks? Do we at least recognize them?
I do not think Tibet can be ignored. I also think that we should support events like the Olympics. There is value in them. As we celebrate the accomplishments of the athletes, we must remember that we have a larger work to assist those whose rights are being wronged. We must end torture and abuse. As we work together for peace, we must hold our fellow nations accountable to observe human rights.
From Beijing’s 2008 Olympic Theme
“One World One Dream’ fully reflects the essence and the universal values of the Olympic spirit — Unity, Friendship, Progress, Harmony, Participation and Dream.” (http://en.beijing2008.cn/spirit/beijing2008/graphic/n214068253.shtml)
Free Tibet Website: http://www.freetibet.org/