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"We Tibetans are looking for a legitimate and meaningful autonomy, an arrangement that would enable Tibetans to live within the framework of the People’s Republic of China."

Beijing Summer Olympics: To Boycott or Not to Boycott

May 2, 2008

By Emily Carrol
Bellarmine Concord, KY

In July of 2001, the International Olympics Committee decided Beijing,
China would host the Games of the XXIX Olympiad for 2008. Now, the
Summer Olympic Games are four months away and major controversies have
erupted in the United States - should the U.S. boycott the Olympic
Opening Ceremonies in August?

There are two sides to this issue. Promotion of human rights is the over
arching reason that many Americans and international leaders want to
withdraw their support of the Olympic Games in Beijing. The human rights
factor is two-fold. The Tibetan Crisis is the primary catalyst of
American outrage. The Chinese government feels Tibetans receive more
than their share of benefits (free education, economic support, minimal
government intrusion, extensive development of farm land). Tibetans, on
the other hand, feel the Chinese government shreds the fabric of their
society. For instance, "farming developments" included burning or
removing trees, which made their environment susceptible to landslides.
As Tibetans began to protest, the Chinese government engaged in brutal
tactics to keep Tibetans at bay. Countless Tibetans are being killed and
detained for their activities.

China is also close with the Sudanese government, a relationship
bolstered by oil trades. The Sudanese government is responsible for the
mass genocide in Darfur - death penalty and detainment of its people
without charge. China is, therefore, guilty by association and is
considered to be an aid to Sudan's cruel treatment of its people.

Sophomore Matt Baumann says, "The United States prides itself in
promoting and advocating for human rights. Traditionally, the opening
ceremonies give tribute to the host nation. Being a nation whose actions
don't reflect the respect for human rights…I can't see supporting them."
Human rights organizations are calling for peace in Tibet. The Chinese
government is refusing to give into peace pleas. Activist organizations
in America are writing letters of condemnation to the Chinese government
and threatening to push for a boycott of the Summer Olympic Games.

President Bush has already spoken his piece on the situation - he will
not officially allow the United States to boycott the Olympics. He has
stated that he'll be at the opening ceremonies and will support our
athletes as they compete: "I'm going for sports, not politics." While
some view this as support for a cruel nation, others feel that the
Olympics should not be a platform for social upheaval and protest.

In 1980, President Jimmy Carter declared a boycott of the Olympics
because of the Soviet Unions illegal invasion of Afghanistan. In return,
Russia refused to participate in the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles. Mary
Hennock, reporter and social analyst, says that the United States should
consider its position in an illegal Iraq war and wonder whether we
should point fingers? In four years, the United Kingdom will host the
Winter Olympic Games, in London. If America and the UK boycott the
actions of the Chinese government, there is no doubt that their
activities in Iraq and Afghanistan will come under strict scrutiny in 2012.

We must also consider what economic and political repercussions China
may have in store for us. What impact would a boycott really make?
Junior Sharayah Franklin says, "I'm not convinced boycotting would do
any good…It's necessary to make a statement but I don't see the long
term effects being positive for Tibet or Darfur." The question is
whether or not the United States wants to start that ball in motion
because once it gets rolling, it won't be stopped.
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