08 April 2008

Human rights in China, police repression in Europe

When supporters of the Beijing Olympics were making their case to the world in the '90s, they said that bringing the Olympics to China would lead to some liberalization there. Beijing even made commitments along those lines. As is now widely known, the promises are broken and the human rights situation is getting worse, not better, in the lead-up to the Olympics.

To me, the scenes around the protests against the torch, and the police response that democratic governments have felt necessary, are particularly ironic. Not only are democratic values and human rights being respected less in China in the lead-up to the Olympics. Authorities in France decided that demonstrations for human rights in China needed a massive police response (3000 cops! frogmen! [in the audio]), and that protesters showing the Tibetan flag deserved to be kept far from the torch and tackled by jackbooted CRS types (picture above from Bernama).

London too (from the Evening Std.):

I'm not going to push this too far and say that, while China cracks down, the torch relay is turning democracies into police states. But there is a bit of that -- the streets of London and Paris this last week (next stop: San Francisco) have looked a lot more like Lhasa or Xiahe today or Beijing in 1989 than I'm comfortable with.

Some other useful Olympics, China & human rights links:

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