Morning options

Our discussion yesterday on whether athletes should talk about China’s poor human rights record at the Beijing Olympics had barely got going before the end of the programme… so, as promised, we’re going to revisit the debate today.

Two British athletes who are hoping to be selected for the games, badminton player Richard Vaughan and previous medal-winner Shelley Rudman, have already signed up for Team Darfur, a group set up to pressurise China to rethink its policy in the troubled Sudanese region. Vaughan says he’s worried that his frankness may cost him the chance to represent his country.

China, of course, sees the Olympics as a golden opportunity to improve its international image, and doesn’t want the occasion soured by talk of human rights.

Is China right to argue that political criticism has no place in an event that should be purely about sport?   And does the outside world give unfair prominence to Chinese human rights abuses? After all, plenty of other countries have terrible human rights records.

One of our guests today is Akida Kadeer, from the troubled western Chinese region of Xinjiang, where the Chinese government’s treatment of the Muslim Uyghur population has been heavily criticised. Akida is the daughter of the best-known Uyghur human rights activist, Rebiya Kadeer, a former entrepreneur who was imprisoned by the Chinese authorities for ‘endangering national security’ until she was allowed to leave for the United States in 1996. Akida’s brothers are still in prison in Xinjiang, and she says athletes must seize the chance of the Olympics to tell the outside world about the terrible situation in Xinjiang.

Do you agree with her? Should China, now that it is taken seriously as an economic and cultural powerhouse, be grown-up enough to accept that a little criticism is perfectly normal? Please keep your posts coming.

Also on the subject of human rights, but in the West rather than the East, what do you think about the plan to use special military commissions to try people accused of plotting the September 11th 2001 attacks in the US?  Fair trials or show trials?

4 Responses to “Morning options”

  1. 1 George USA
    February 12, 2008 at 11:09


    You have not and cannot convince me that political protests by athletes have any place in any Olympic.

    You do not save Darfur by destroying the Olympics as a unique best in the world competition.

    Do not do that.


    Get the bad guys of 911, hang them high.

    But the “mastermind” looks like a blithering idiot.

    It would sure be nice if these men had not been tortured into confessions, because now no one knows if they are bad guys of 911 or just tortured to confess they are.

    Don’t coddle mass murderers.

    But Please give them and us and the world real trials so we are doing something right here.

    No one wants 911 perps to get off. Do it right with trails.

  2. 2 Rubby
    February 12, 2008 at 12:21

    atheletes should speak up in beinjing without them being intimidated or harrased.China ia seeking to be a world power and i personally don’t agree with it policies in Africa as an african from ghana.i feel china should be looked at carefully in all aspects.athletes should speak up and i hope athletes from africa will join them speak up.

  3. 3 Brett
    February 12, 2008 at 12:58

    “what do you think about the plan to use special military commissions to try people accused of plotting the September 11th 2001 attacks in the US? Fair trials or show trials?”

    It is VERY scary to think that there could be a ‘trial’ held in which no information about it is going to need to be given to the public, anything deemed by the ‘comission’ to be unimportant for the public to know, they will keep amongst themselves. That the evidence is ‘secret’ and would compromise national security and the like if given out to the public is a JOKE.

    It is not a trial. The ‘comission’ has already made up their minds, the verdicts are already decided. It is not a trial at all, its a show, the contestants have all been chosen, the power lays entirely on one side to do whatever they like. They say its a ‘test’ of this sort of system. And of course, when the Iron doors swing open, they will come out declaring “THE TRIALS WERE A SUCCESS!”.

    I am embarrassed to be an American.

    American once again likens itself to George Orwell’s 1984. I forget…. Are we at war with Eurasia or Eastasia?

    Brett ~ Richmond, Va.

  4. 4 John in Salem
    February 12, 2008 at 14:04

    China is going to go to extreme lengths to portray itself as the perfect model of a progressive modern society and there could be no better time for that image to be challenged than during the games, but it should be the media that does the criticizing, not the athletes.
    Let’s make human rights an Olympic event. Every country that hosts the games should have it’s record scrutinized and judged by the world.

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