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"As long as human rights are violated, there can be no foundation for peace. How can peace grow where speaking the truth is itself a crime?"

Day of Tibet in Poland

August 10, 2008

Sports fans are getting settled in front of their TV sets for the
start of the Olympic Games, but a no small part of Polish society
does not feel the excitement because of  human rights abuse in China.
Slawek Szefs reports
The Polish Radio
August 6, 2008

The 29th Summer Olympic games are opening in Beijing on Friday. Over
10 thousand athletes from all over the world, among them 263 Polish
entrants, will be competing for the most valued awards in amateur
sports. A truly festive occasion. But not to all... A dark shadow has
been cast over the Olympics by the Chinese authorities disregard for
human rights, especially in Tibet and for international public
opinion condemnation in that respect.

On the eve of the opening ceremony in the Chinese capital, protests
keep echoeing from Poland, where manifestations of solidarity with
the people of Tibet are being held in both major cities and smaller
localities. A special graffitti action in front of the Chinese
embassy in Warsaw, Day of Tibet in Krakow, a show of Tibetan and
Polish flags in Opole, a march in Kielce... these are but a few
examples of support Poles give to the cause of stopping oppresion in Tibet.

Writer Halina Bortnowska, board member of the Polish branch of the
Helsinki Human Rights Foundation, has some harsh words for those who
did not take to heart earlier warnings and went ahead with granting
Beijing the honor of organizing the Olympic Games despites continuous
cases of human rights abuse in China and its aggressive policies
towards Tibet.

'Now, it is our time to act, while the rest of us looks forward to
enjoying Chinese hospitality during the Olympics. These people who
want to make business notwithstanding what happens with human life,
they are hopeless cases. I don't think, they don't know by now what
is happening. They don't mind it! Also the sports lobby, they're
cynical people.'

A telling example of the Chinese authorities' open war against human
rights campaigners was the last minute revoking of an earlier granted
visa to Joey Cheeck, a US Olympic gold medalist in speedskating, who
wanted to cheer his team mates in Beijing. He is also involved in
human rights issues in Darfur.

'The day I was supposed to travel, I got a call from the (Chinese)
consulate here in Washington, DC. You're not going to be able to
travel to China. Your visa has been revoked, they said. When I asked
for a reason, or someone else I could speak, they said they didn't
need to give me a reason.'

... is what Cheeck told a BBC reporter just the other day.

Adam Koziel from the Helsinki Foundation, also affiliated with Tybet
Watch in Poland, is glad top Polish politicians have refrained from
attending the Beijing Olympics. But he considers not enough has been
done in practice by the government in Warsaw to help the persecuted
people in Tibet.

'Unfortunately, especially the last two decades of the tragedy of
Tibet are paved with gestures, declarations and shows of solidarity.
What I would really like to see is Polish politicians not talking and
manifesting their feelings, but working, demanding the appointment of
a special coordinator of the European Union for the case of Tibet.
And giving this person very wide and strong political support.
Secondly, to convince the Chinese leader to immediately open direct,
meaningful, face-to-face dialogue with His Holiness The Dalai Lama,
the sole legitimate leader of Tibetan people.'

Despite the political circumstances surrounding the Olympic Games the
joy of medal winners in Beijing will undoubtedly be shared by all.
Hopefuly, so shall be deep concern for the fate of Tibet.
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