Standing here at the Constitution Syntagma Square, I'm delighted to be in the city where the modern Olympics were founded in 1896. The Olympic Charter espouses "respect for universal fundamental ethical principles" and the "harmonious development of man with a view to promoting a peaceful society concerned with the preservation of human dignity."
Virtually one year to the day before the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics, what is the state of dignity among the people of China for whom all of us here tonight and across the world have enormous respect?
Independent international organizations and observers have been saying for several years that human rights abuses by the government of China are worsening as August, 2008 approaches, not improving as it promised in its successful bid to win the right to host the games.
David Matas and I completed the revised edition of an independent study earlier this year, which concluded to our horror that since 1999 the government of China and its agencies in numerous regions of the country have put to death a large but unknown number of Falun Gong prisoners of conscience (It is available in seventeen languages at organharvestinvestigation.net). Their vital organs, including kidneys, livers and corneas, were seized involuntarily for sale at high prices and to foreigners, who normally face long waits for voluntary donations of such organs in their home countries.
This is absolutely not what we expect from any government hosting the Olympics.
Should not the importance of saving human lives-in this case an exercise-spiritual community whose numbers were estimated by a department of the government of China to be in the 70 million range in the late 1990s-override any sporting event, including even the 2008 summer Olympics?
If the killing of Falun Gong practitioners across China does not stop immediately-and we'll all know if it does-people of goodwill everywhere should call for a shunning/boycott of the "Bloody Harvest Games" or the "Genocide Olympics", as Mia Farrow termed them in connection with the government of China's role in Darfur.
In the meantime, I'd urge all of you to support the Global Human Rights Torch Relay of the Coalition to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong (CIPFG). One torch, five continents, many cities, many peoples, let us light the torch and let the bright light of justice all the corners of our world!