21 July 2008

human rights: worth its weight in gold...

i recently received a letter from former professional athlete john amaechi regarding china, human rights, and the olympics and wanted to share it with you...

I am so proud to be going to the Olympic Games in Beijing next month as an Olympic Ambassador for Amnesty International.

As a former pro athlete, I'm eager to see awe-inspiring world-class athletes competing for gold at the Summer Games. Yet I can't help but find the luster of those five rings tarnished and feel conflicted about my upcoming trip to China. Speak out for Chinese citizens who havebeen silenced against their will

There is no doubt that the Beijing Olympics have been sullied by worldwide protests regarding Tibet and other human rights abuses across China. Even in these difficult times, it is worth taking a moment to encourage those with power and influence to extend the hand of friendship to the good people of China and speak on behalf of those who cannot.

While I extend my deepest sympathy to the thousands who are suffering as a result of the recent earthquake in Sichuan Province, it is no reason to hold back on scrutiny of the Chinese government's human rights record. Indeed, as we open our hearts to the Chinese people, we should not limit our empathy to the natural disaster alone.

The Chinese government invited scrutiny of its human rights record by explicitly stating in their winning bid in 2001 that human rights would improve after being awarded the Games. Amnesty International has reached the sad conclusion that respect for human rights in China is getting worse - not in spite of, but because of the Olympic Games. Click here to read Amnesty's full report.

We have seen only a sliver of the abuses on TV, which include locking down cities to prevent public protests, denying journalists access to Tibet, the beating and torture of peaceful protesters who ask for the most basic human rights, and so on. These activities betray the fundamental Olympic spirit of respect for human dignity, and should be strongly condemned.

You and I have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to speak on behalf of China's citizens who have been silenced against their will. Even if only for a moment, the sound of our voices ringing out in defense of human rights for all is a message worth hearing - and a legacy worth its weight in gold.


John Amaechi
Olympic Ambassador for Amnesty International
peace out <3

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