Later this year the 2008 Olympics will open in Beijing, China. When that happens, a country with both serious environment problems and a pattern of widespread social injustice will be given international attention. If the Chinese government has its way, that country will not be portrayed as a contaminated badland where political repression and established censorship smothers its citizens. It’ll be best faux foot forward as the world looks on, or perhaps better phrased, looks away as a deeply flawed nation tries to avoid criticism for its abominable record on the environment and human rights. The International Olympic Committee opposes a boycott as does the Bush Administration. And you can be sure that corporate sponsors of the Games will not advocate such a move unless more consumers, or ah citizens support a boycott. Until then they “are trying to appear sensitive while arguing that the Games should not be politicized. So much for corporate leadership. Again it looks like no real change will happen unless public sentiment develops in support of directly addressing the record of China and its policies of devastation during past decades.
Throughout most of the month of August, while the Olympics are taking place, more than half of the automobiles that normally drive the streets of Beijing will not be allowed to operate. Why you ask? Because of the incredible air pollution that plagues that city. The International Herald Tribune reported, “Olympic chief Jacques Rogge said last year that some endurance events would have to be rescheduled if air quality could not be guaranteed.
More than 750,000 Chinese citizens die prematurely each year due to air pollution. (Global Voices) However, you won’t find a figure that high in the World Bank’s most recent report on pollution in China. The Chinese government was able to coax that information out of the final report. One adviser to the study told The Financial Times, “The World Bank was told that it could not publish this information. It was too sensitive and could cause social unrest. You think? Yeah I bet if the citizens of China found out how many of their countrymen were being killed by air pollution they might actually want something done about it. An article last year in the New York Times pointed out that “Only 1 percent of the country’s 560 million city dwellers breathe air considered safe by the European Union. The real question is, what should you do now that you know this information? In response we suggest a boycott of the 2008 Olympics.
Upwards of 700 million Chinese drink contaminated water every day, with the World Bank forecasting perhaps as many as 30 million Chinese water refugees on the move by 2020. (PDF) Three quarters of the rivers and lakes in China are polluted while an even larger percentage of the groundwater under major Chinese cities is contaminated. In the North of China aquifers are being depleted and farmers are finding it increasingly difficult to grow crops. Home to 20% of the world’s population, China has just 7% of global fresh water resources. It seems that the pace of industrialization in that country is more important to its leaders than preservation of the nation’s natural resources on which average Chinese citizen depends. Again, as a response we are suggesting a boycott of the 2008 Olympics.
In the lead up to the 2008, activists who seek to show the world the way China mistreats its citizens are being taken into custody to try and put a happy face on a sad culture of repression. The Chinese record on human rights is clear. Rewind to 1989 when between 200 and 3,000 people were killed in the Tiananmen Square Massacre. Reports on annual executions in China range from more than 1,000 per year to 10,000 per annum depending on who you ask. According to the Heritage Foundation, after the invasion of Tibet in 1950, “the Chinese communists killed over one million Tibetans, destroyed over 6,000 monasteries… Recent protests in Lhasa, the capital of Tibet, were met with a swift and violent response leaving between 10 and 100 protestors dead. Police have searched door to door in an effort to arrest protestors and Chinese paramilitary now have a strong presence in the city just as the protest spreads to other parts of Tibet. And now China admits to having fired on protestors as it tries to quell the uprising in the run up to the Games. [UPDATE: They’ve fired on monks and nuns.] It’s clear that China is trying to appear anything other than oppressive while continuing its brutality.
Playing along with this pretense is the US State Department who, in its most recent report on global human rights, removed China from its list of 10 Worst Human Rights Offenders. But then what do you expect? The United States government has continued to move to limit our personal freedoms in the name of fighting terror during recent years. You can’t check out a controversial library book in this country without fear of being flagged. And we certainly have our own pollution problems. We generate a ridiculous amount of effluence in this country. There is much to do here at home in the US, but the environmental poison being produced in China and the blatant disregard for personal freedom displayed by the Chinese government warrants a stern response to the 2008 Olympics. Groovy Green is calling for a boycott of the 2008 Olympics. We’re not going to watch and we hope you won’t either.
We’re also going to let the Chinese government know. We think the advertisers who sponsor television coverage of this year’s Olympics will be particularly interested if enough of us turn off the official games this summer. Join us and add your name to our coming list of Olympic Boycott Participants.
We challenge other websites that help champion issues of social justice and environmental concerns to join with us. Please spread the word and add this banner to your site. More to come on how you can help create change by withholding your participation from the Beijing Olympics and who and how to contact so your decision makes more of an impact.