26-July-2001 -- P |

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By Steve Mosher

Many Americans were deeply disappointed when the International Olympic Committee voted to hold the 2008 Olympic games in China.

But I can only imagine how crushing this news must have been to those prisoners of conscience—Catholic Christians, political dissidents, Tibetans nationalists, and others—including American citizens—who languish in communist Chinese jails.

The Chinese government supposes that it can hide its atrocities behind the drama of athletic competition. But if medals were given to nations for committing human rights abuses, China would win the gold every time.

Human rights conditions in China today are in many respects worse than when I discovered China’s brutal one-child policy in the early 1980s. And they are likely to get worse, much worse, in the run-up to the Olympics.

The Chinese government will use the games to spruce up its international image, while at the same time strengthening its hold on the Chinese people. Beijing will receive a face lift, buildings will be refurbished and dead grass will be painted green.

But at the same time that they’re sweeping the streets, they will sweep up dissidents of all kinds, who will be arrested and banished to the countryside, or even sent off to labor camps. The international media will arrive in Beijing to find the city sterilized of all possible protest. The games will not bring change to China, but instead a wave of persecution.

For me, one of the most disturbing aspects of the games is the construction of new stadiums. You see, stadiums in China are used not just for soccer games, but for public executions. Like the Coliseum of Ancient Rome, these stadiums have become killing fields, where thousands of people have been executed without due process. More people are executed in China each year than in the rest of the world combined.

The day of an execution, the stadium is filled with people. They are there by government order, there to learn the dangers of crossing the government.

The prisoner—sometimes there are several—is marched in and forced to kneel in the middle of the field. After his crimes are read, he is killed by a single shot to the back of the head.

Once the Summer Olympics of 2008 are over, once the athletes and the international press leave, the playing fields of the new stadiums will become killing fields as well.

At its highest level, the Olympics celebrate the human spirit. It is not just about soccer or the decathlon, basketball or the long jump, but the freedom of men and women to do their best—to be the best that they can be—in every field of human endeavor.

This is why the games should always be held in countries where human rights are respected. This is why Beijing, where that overarching spirit is violated every day, is such a bad choice for the Summer Olympics of 2008.

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