Keeping It Real...
The two names most likely to be remembered long after the Bird’s Nest and Water Cube begin to rust are Michael Phelps (swimming) and Usain Bolt (running). But two people who really should NOT be forgotten are Wu Dianyuan and Wang Xiuying.
Wu, 79, and Wang, 77, were arrested , tried, and sentenced in the blink of an eye during the Beijing Olympics to “re-education through labour” and whisked away for merely APPLYING for a permit to protest their forcible eviction from their homes in 2001 to make way for redevelopment.
In fact, the Chinese government made complete fools of the International Olympic Committee by promising to allow non-violent protests to take place during the Games; setting aside a park area (well away from the real action) but even then NOT granting ANY of the 77 applications for protest permits. And when the seniors refused to take NO for an answer and kept applying for a permit to protest: the Chinese authorities took them away.
A police state remains a police state … despite all the marching mandarins, colourful choreography and programmed pawns, performing with pomp and precision under the pretense of “public” participation and pageantry.
The opening ceremonies were fantastic (if partly faked); the venues were magnificent;the games were seemingly very well run; the closing beautiful to watch. But, as I wrote at the BEGINNING of these Games, the real legacy of Beijing 2008 will transcend sport: the world will instead remember China’s Olympics for:
“OPPRESSION: the eyes of hundreds of millions of people around the world have been opened WIDE to the massive degree of suppression the people of China struggle under day after day: protests and demonstrations disallowed or strictly restricted/controlled; Internet censored; police surveillance and intimidation beyond our imagination; and media censored/controlled/banned. (Any more?) I suspect that, until now, most people knew that China wasn’t exactly liberated, but with the spotlight pointed at China over the past several weeks/months, now we all know so much more about how Chinese people are denied liberty by their own leaders, under the boot of the ironically-named People’s Liberation Army.
TIBET: the ill-fated uprising there in the run up to the games focussed the world on Tibet, the Chinese occupation and violent crackdown on dissidents in the region in an unprecedented way. And the horrors of Tienamin Square have also been brought back into public consciousness.
RELIGIOUS SUPPRESSION : the Falun Gong is not alone; news stories leading up to the Olympics have detailed the way police regularly persecute, raid and arrest “unauthorized” religious churches. leaders and their followers (including Christians), seizing even their religious texts and imprisoning believers.
CORRUPTION: more than 1 million Beijing residents had their homes literally bulldozed in front of their eyes to make way for “redevelopment” to prepare for the Games and China’s economic growth. Many of them received little or no compensation, thanks to corrupt officials doing deals with developers. (Where is the Downtown Eastside Residents’ Association, when you really need it?)”.
Now with the Games ended, I believe my earlier predictions will indeed hold true.
The people of China have much to be proud of: their warmth and friendliness … and yes, their longing for freedom and the bravery of many in standing up against the dictators who rule over them … came through the physical smog of Beijing and all the political smog laid down by their political masters.
We understand … we sympathize … and our continuing work towards expansion of their personal and political freedoms SHOULD be the legacy of the 2008 Olympic Games.
And please … don’t forget Wu Dianyuan or Wang Xiuying.
The Chinese Embassy in Canada: E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org