Seven feeds bread and circuses while thousands die


After the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games on Friday night, Channel Seven was paid to screen an advertisement featuring a Tibetan woman asking ear-wax Kev to raise human rights when polishing his Mandarin on Chinese officials. The advertisement was paid for by the online activist group, Get Up, in conjunction with the Australia Tibet Council.

Channel Seven refused to run the advertisement despite a protest by thousands of Australians against this insidious self-censorship.

For every thousand protestors there are more enthusiastic viewers who consider international politics, even doping scandals, a dull side-show. For them, the real action is the five ring circus, on the track and in the pool. If you’re that way inclined, you may think that mixing politics with sport spoils the party; like the disgruntled aunt who ruins every wedding by reminding anyone who’ll listen that she should have inherited grandma’s ruby.

I wrote last month that we should cut China and India a little slack on their carbon emissions. Some people think we should cut them a little slack on human rights. If it’s okay to emit tonnes of carbon dioxide in an attempt to feed and clothe hundreds of millions of poor, perhaps it’s okay to lock up a couple of hundred thousand protestors to keep a nation of 1.2 billion on the rails. You don’t make an omelette without breaking eggs. Right?

I don’t agree.

Chairman Mao told the first deputy premier of the USSR, Anastas Mikoyan, in 1957 that China was invincible because she could sacrifice tens of millions of citizens without blinking an eye. He maintained this stance until his death, telling party officials before meeting Nixon in 1972 that the United States was weak because it would not take strong action against its own people.

Guantanamo Bay and the Homeland Security Act indicate that Mao may have viewed the United States through rose-coloured glasses, but there is no doubt about China’s ruthlessness. Since 1999, 70 million Falun Gong practitioners have been condemned to silence, or arrest and torture. Amnesty International estimates that half a million Chinese are imprisoned without trial and thousands of people are killed in prison each year. It also reports that the Chinese government sells the organs of executed prisoners to Japanese and American customers. Certainly, Westerners in need of a new kidney regularly head to China on “organ holidays” organised by US brokers. The arrangement conveniently gets around international laws on organ trading.

With global malfeasance widespread, it might seem trifling to imprison 0.05% of your population without trial and sell a few thousand organs of those that happen to die while under state care.

The point is, China has begged for international approval, it has signed treaties to win the Olympic games and presents itself to the world as a modern, enlightened state.

This week is the best opportunity to raise these issues.

If your son or daughter had been raped and killed by a prominent citizen widely suspected of serial offenses, would you have any qualms about gate-crashing a high profile party to state your case? All that is necessary for evil to triumph, is for good people do nothing.

Doing something can be as simple as watching the film Plum Blossom in the Snow, visiting the web-site of the Australia Tibet Council or registering your views with Get Up.

Paying to watch the circus, while ignoring the conditions of the dwarves and bears, only prolongs the agony.

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