From The Epoch Times – American actress Uma Thurman has joined the growing chorus of celebrities speaking out about China’s human rights record in the lead up to the 2008 Olympic Games.
Referring to Steven Spielberg’s recent decision to resign as artistic consultant to the Beijing Olympic because of China’s involvement with Sudan, Ms. Thurman said the U.S. film director could add a few more things to his list of concerns.
“Although there is so much good in China and in the Chinese people, the human rights record of the Chinese government is appalling. I think Steven Spielberg could have written a longer list. Steven, please waste a little more ink on it”.
Ms. Thurman, the daughter of Robert Thurman, a scholar of Tibetan Buddhism and the first American to be ordained as a Tibetan Buddhist monk, was particularly concerned about the plight of Tibetan Buddhists in China but noted there were many other human rights issues.
“I’m not joking”, she told the BBC, “China’s human rights record is horrible and there are marvellous, caring, wonderful people amongst the community of Chinese people who also are unhappy about the record of the Government and some of their choices and behaviours.”
Steven Spielberg said the situation in Darfur was rapidly deteriorating and his conscience would no longer allow him “to continue with business as usual.”
“At this point, my time and energy must be spent, not on Olympic ceremonies, but on doing all I can to help bring an end to the unspeakable crimes against humanity that continue to be committed in Darfur,” he said in statement.
Ms. Thurman and Mr Spielberg join a growing list of celebrities and senior statesmen that have expressed concern about China’s continued human rights abuses.
Earlier this month Prince Charles, announced he had declined an invitation to attend the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, noting in a statement that he had a “close interest in Tibet”.
Last August a Global Human Right Torch Relay was launched in Athens to raise awareness of religious persecution in China, particularly the severity of the persecution against Falun Gong practitioners.
Human Rights Torch Relays have since been held in cities and towns across Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Africa and parts of Asia, drawing Federal, State and local community leaders to express their concern that Olympics and crimes against humanity cannot co exist.
The Relay is presently in Israel and will commence its route through the United States around March to finish in Asia in August.
Earlier this month a group of Nobel laureates, politicians and Olympic athletes sent an open letter to the Chinese government calling on it to stop supporting Sudan.
Signatories included Archbishop Desmond Tutu, actors Mia Farrow, Emma Thompson and Joanna Lumley, singer Angelique Kidjo and British Playwright, Tom Stoppard. Human Rights Watch has welcomed the celebrity concern about Darfur but warned that unless human rights abuses were addressed within China, little would be gained.
“Repression in China is on the rise and Olympic sponsors, governments, or world leaders—especially those planning to attend the Games—can’t pretend otherwise,” said Minky Worden, media director at Human Rights Watch, “These influential players
should be prepared to show the steps they are taking to address the worsening rights climate in China, or they risk being tarnished by a human rights debacle.”
Last year, a group of 57 lawyers, academics, editors, writers and civil rights campaigners within China joined the voices of thousands of Chinese rural workers who signed a petition saying “we want human rights not the Olympics.”
The group pf dissidents signed an open letter condemning the arrest of human rights activist, Hu Jia and urged the government to improve human rights ahead of this year’s Olympics.
Since then Hu remains incarcerated and the numbers joining him are growing.
“Nobody apart from the International Olympic Committee seems to believe the government will make a significant human rights concession before the Games start,” said press freedom agency Reporters Without Borders in its 2008 annual report. “Every time a journalist or blogger is released, another goes into prison. (…) China’s dissidents will probably be having a hard time this summer.”
The Chinese Communist Party, however remains paranoid about anything that might blemish its image during the Olympics.
“We believe that any political issue that has nothing to do with the Olympics should not be linked to the Beijing Games,” Liu Jingmin, executive vice president of the Beijing Organising Committee for the 2008 Olympic Games, told a news conference last year, Reuters reported.
“I believe that the preparations for the Olympics have tremendously boosted the development of human rights in China,” he added.
One wonders what the thousands of innocent people languishing in labour and detention camps scattered around China’s particularly harsh winter countryside would make of that—if they were to ever gain a rare word from the outside world.