Australian MP fears Beijing Olympics as catalyst for oppression
Thursday, 10 May 2007, 11:26 a.m.
|Labor MP Michael Danby|
Dharamshala: Echoing the sentiments of US Congressman Tom Lantos that China must not be allowed to turn 2008 Games as “the genocide Olympics”, Australian MP Michael Danby has expressed concern that “the Beijing Olympics not be used as a catalyst for oppression by the government in China.”
In a speech to Australian Parliament yesterday, Labor MP Michael Danby underlined that “It is simply not good enough for the world to let China have a prestigious international gathering like the Beijing Olympics and ignore human rights in China or freedom for people there who are leaders of major religions.”
Mr Danby also pointed out that in order “to remake Tibet” by diluting Tibetan religion and culture, China has forcibly relocated some 250,000 Tibetans to “socialist villages”.
Expressing dismay and shock at the continued detentions of the boy recognised by His Holiness the Dalai Lama as the 11th Panchen Lama, and the Catholic bishop Su Zhimin, Mr Danby urged the authorities in Beijing to release these two religious leaders before the Beijing Olympics.
|Congressman Tom Lantos|
Earlier on 1 May, a day after Amnesty International warned that China was using the Olympics as a catalyst for repression, Democratic Representative Tom Lantos warned that China must not be allowed to turn the 2008 Olympics into the “genocide” Games and demanded US security aid for the sports festival must safeguard human rights.
Raising his concerns directly with Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte, Mr Lantos, the chairman of the House of Representatives committee on foreign affairs said, “We don’t want these Olympics to go down in the history books as the genocide Olympics”.
- Following is the full text of Labor MP Michael Danby’s statement:
I want to join the chairman of the US congressional committee on foreign affairs representative, Tom Lantos of California, in expressing his concern that the Beijing Olympics not be used as a catalyst for oppression by the government in China.
Nearly one-tenth of the population from scattered hamlets in Tibet–250,000 Tibetans–have been relocated forcibly by the Chinese communist regime to ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒâ€¹Ã…â€œsocialist villages’.
The broader aim of this forcible resettlement seems to be, according to a report in the Australian, to remake Tibet, a region with its own culture, language and religious traditions, and give firmer control to the central government.
‘China is pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into road building and development projects in Tibet, boosting the economy, maintaining a large military presence and keeping close tabs on the locals via a vast security apparatus of cameras and informants.’
Human Rights Watch reports that peasants must take out loans of several thousand dollars to pay for these houses, which cost an average of $US6,000, even though annual rural incomes hover around $US320 in the deeply impoverished region.
In that context it is worth, sadly, recounting that more than 10 years have passed since the Panchen Lama, the No. 2 person in the Tibetan religion (sic), Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, went missing. He was arrested as a young child by the Chinese government.
It is also nearly 10 years since the Catholic bishop Su Zhimin was arrested by the Chinese government. I call on the authorities in Beijing to release these two religious leaders before the Beijing Olympics.
It is simply not good enough for the world to let China have a prestigious international gathering like the Beijing Olympics and ignore human rights in China or freedom for people there who are leaders of major religions.
I find it personally quite shocking that a child who is the No. 2 in the Buddhist religion, the Panchen Lama, is held prisoner by the Chinese government. I also find it shocking that someone who is a bishop of the Catholic church is imprisoned in China, as are a number of other Catholic bishops who recognise, as do all true Catholics, the authority of Rome and not the authority of Beijing in terms of their own religion.
I conclude by noting that His Holiness the Dalai Lama will be here in Australia again from 5 June to 16 June, and I think all Australian democrats of all Australian political parties will welcome him to this House.
We think that the important message that he brings of the middle way of Tibetan autonomy within the Chinese federation is a moderate political program that the Chinese authorities should listen to.
They should also free individual human rights activists, including all those internet activists, journalists and labour activists whose names will be presented to our Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade.