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Archive for August 11th, 2008

Posted by Henric C. Jensen on August 11, 2008

BEIJING (AP)—Their countries may be in a conflict, but a Russian and a Georgian shared a podium and an embrace after winning Olympic medals Sunday.

Russia’s Natalia Paderina, left, and Georgia’s Nino Salukvadze hug and wave during the medal ceremony after the women’s 10 meter air pistol final at the Beijing 2008 Olympics in Beijing, Sunday, Aug. 10, 2008. Paderina won the silver medal and Salukvadze won bronze.

A day after Georgian athletes considered leaving due to violence back home, Nino Salukvadze took the bronze in the women’s 10-meter air pistol. Russia’s Natalia Paderina won the silver, and after the medal ceremony, Salukvadze put her arm around Paderina and the two posed together for photographs. Paderina than gave Salukvadze a kiss on the cheek.

“This medal is good for Georgia, especially during times like this,” Salukvadze said. “I am very nervous today. It’s very difficult for my people.”

Georgia launched a major offensive Friday to retake control of the separatist province of South Ossetia. Russia, which has close ties to the province, responded by sending in armed convoys and military combat aircraft. Russia bombed Georgian towns Saturday.

The International Olympic Council announced Sunday that the Georgian and Russian teams had decided to remain in Beijing.
I know, this isn’t about China and human rights. But it makes a point, regardless, that touches on China and human rights. The Olympic water polo game between Soviet Union and Hungary in Melbourne 1956 ended in bloodshed. The above is the very opposite. Russia and Georgia is at war, still the silver medalist – Natalia Paderina (Russia) and the bronze medalist Nino Salukvadze (Georgia) met as friends on the podium, holding hands and hugging each other. They could easily have tried to kill each other during the competition, as they were both armed.:-D

What can be learned from this? Sports and Politics both don’t and do belong together. There is a time to use what means are at one’s disposal to try and change the way people think about things, and there is a time to realize that people have very little to do with what governments decide. And here comes the connection to China and human rights. Ordinary Chinese people are actually pretty content with the course China as a nation is taking. Their lives, socially, economically and financially have improved enormously in only 20 years. Twenty five percent of all Chinese people consider themselves belonging to a well-educated, financially affluent group that has more personal freedoms and rights than their parents had. Hiphop, rock and punk music are freely available. Musicians representing those genres might not be welcome to perform on Tianamen Square or inside the Parliament, but contrary to common belief they are not persecuted or banned for playing in public. Despite the fact that they very often use their music to criticize the Chinese Government.

Does China have RELIGIOUS freeedom? Yes. Xians are not being persecuted for their beliefs. Nor are Falun Gong or the Tibetan Buddhists – that is a myth generally perpetuated by Evangelical Xians, Falun Gong practitioners and Buddhists in the West. The Xians Falun Gong and Tibetan Buddhists in China repeat this lie – why? – because it gets the attention from the West, it plays into what we think we know about Chinese Communism, i.e that it’s similar to Soviet Communism. But Chinese Communism is not Soviet Communism. Chinese Communism isn’t concerned with what people believe. Eradication of religious belief is not part of Chinese Communism.

So what is the issue with the Xians? The issue is that many Xians in China refuse to register with the Organized Churches already in place in China. They refuse, they are not barred from registering – in fact they are encouraged to register, but they refuse. The fact is that they could easily register and then worship as they like in their homes, but they refuse to register. The reason is purely political. Now one could argue that they shouldn’t have to register, and I agree they shouldn’t have to. But the lie that China persecutes its Xians because they are Xians has to be stopped, simply because it’s a lie.

What’s the issue with Falun Gong? That is a purely political issue as well. Falun Gong is very popular, is traditionally Chinese and has somewhere around 100 million adherents – that’s approximately 10% of all Chinese people, and therefore it presents a true threat to the Communist Party, that’s why Falun Gong is being persecuted, not because of its religious beliefs.

The same goes for Tibetan Buddhism.

All this political persecution has to end, I agree, and I think a lot is being done – all of those religious groups do have the possibility of practicing without prejudice from the Chinese Leadership in Hong Kong and Macao, another of those things that was not possible 20 years ago.

When we fight for human rights in China, we have to be TRUTHFUL about what is actually happening and focus or efforts on what is actual and factual – lying and exaggerating is not going to do any good for Human Rights in China. Why? Because if we perpetuate the lies about human rights violations in China, any accusations leveled at the Chinese Government can easily be refuted or brushed off as inaccurate.

This peaceful Students for Free Tibet demonstration on Tianamen Square was chased away by what appeared to be ordinary Chinese people.
Public demonstrations of a dissenting opinion are not forbidden. An example of this is what I saw in a video on You Tube made by Students for Free Tibet – the demonstration took place while several uniformed police were actually watching…what broke the demonstration was the crowd around the demonstrators that chased them away. NOT the POLICE. Watch the video

Again, we are possibly being lied to. Don’t buy the lies. Remember that the guy in the video has an agenda, and it looks better for him if he can convince you that he and his comrades were chased and possibly arrested by Chinese Police. But there is no evidence, except his word, that what he says is true. Remember, he also says that there were uniformed police present, and that they didn’t do anything – the question is WHY didn’t they?

Henric C. Jensen


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Open War During the Opening Ceremony!

Posted by Henric C. Jensen on August 11, 2008

Russian Tanks in South Ossetia after Russia surged into the Georgian break-away province during the Olympic Opening Ceremony on Friday August 8

That headline met me when I made my usual morning tour in the bath room this morning – there, on the hall way floor, it yelled at me. I knew already: Russia and Georgia moved into open war over the Georgian province South Ossetia. during the Olympic opening ceremony yesterday. My wife cried. CNN showed Russian tanks rolling over the border. She said, “disqualify Russia and Georgia from the Games for breaking the Olympic Peace”. My thoughts went to the small Georgian troop of athletes that had just passed over the screen as they marched in. I hoped they weren’t told by anyone what had just happened. I hoped they would be allowed to enjoy the Opening without having to worry about friends and relatives. Most of all I hoped that none of them were South Ossetians, because not much of South Ossetia remain untouched by Russian and Georgian military. Then I spotted Vladimir Putin…and, well what I said about him is not suited for print.

On Friday August 8 he carried the US Flag at the Olympic Opening Ceremony.
His appearance at the Olympic Opening was the closest that the Organization Team Darfur will get to expressing their opinion IN China
Lopez Lomong, originally from Darfur in Sudan, marched, head high in front of the American Troop. Just how much does his presence influence, and how much of that influence get back to the Chinese leaders, who are actively supporting the murder of the population in Darfur? How much will the letter that 40+ athletes have signed and sent to the Chinese Leadership actually do change China’s policy in Tibet? Who, of the 40+ will be disqualified from the Games as a result of their signature?

I have no idea, but I am sure that Lopez Lomong presence as the US Flag Bearer will mean a lot for International opinion, as a morale boost for activist and protesters, and I equally sure that the Letter will mean a morale boost for Tibet.

Hongkong didn’t have an Olympic Team while under British Rule – they have one under Chinese Rule!

Morale is important both in politics and in sports. The fact that China had to march in under 3 different flags – Hongkong China, Tapei China, and People’s Republic of China not only speaks volumes as to the conflicts and changes that are underway in China, it also boosts morale for those small, but strong “national” entities.
Taipei had an Olympic Team BEFORE China did, and they still have one, despite a lot of weapons’ rattling from China Main.

Thirty years ago years ago that would not have been possible. Thirty years ago we would not have known who of the Chinese athletes were from Hongkong or Singapore. So progress is being made.
Macao would have been the fourth entity to compete under one of the four flags, had it had a National Olympic Committee, but it doesn’t

Another point here is that thirty years ago we wouldn’t have KNOWN what exactly were the human rights violations committed by China – well, we would have had some basic ideas, based on out-smuggled notes, videos and such, but we would never have actually SEEN the evidence, and that too is a change. It might be that China wants to pretend that all is peachy, but through the back-door they are leaking like a sieve. I am not sure that the leaks are not intentional. After all China benefits from openness, and they know it.


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Gold, Gold, Gold!

Posted by Henric C. Jensen on August 11, 2008

Sweden’s Women’s Olympic Soccer Team lost to China 2-1 yesterday. Naturally it was no fun for the Swedes. It was the first game of the preliminaries. Yes, you got that right – the first game of the preliminaries. From what I read in today’s Dagens Nyheter (Today’s News) you would think that they lost the finals. The sports journalists are calling for the team captain to be chucked out and the coach to be fired.

For crying out loud! It was the first game of the preliminaries! They still have another two games to play. They don’t have to win their group to qualify for the quarter finals.

Here is what really went wrong with the game on Sweden’s part: China is extremely good at long and middle distance shots. They are also very good at positioning their forwards to receive those long and middle distance shots. Yesterday they used their long and middle distance shots, and managed to land two of them behind the Swedish goalie. The Swedish Captain worked her butt off to organize the midfield to destroy Chinese chances at using their prime weapons. As a captain there is only so much you can do to fix things, and if your team-mates don’t listen, don’t do their job and if the defense doesn’t adjust their position placement to match that of long and middle distance shots, there is no way in hell that one woman can succeed whatever she does. After all, soccer is a team sport, not a one-woman-show.

Olympic Games really pull out the worst in sports commentators and journalists. The Olympics is supposed to be fun for the athletes, be they old pros or newbies. Yes, of course they all want to get that elusive GOLD, but, as the old saying goes – “you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar”, accurate and constructive assessments of the athletes performances and encouragements when they falter will do more to bring home those coveted gold medals, than calling for their dismissal and termination.

How does this tie in with China and Human Rights? Well, the saying: “you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar” applies to how we treat China. It’s one thing to be opposed to how China violates Human Rights – we should be – but political change is a process, and it’s not done easily, it needs planning, slow progress and in some cases the old generation of politicians has to die and be buried before any visible progress can be made.

I watched a French documentary about Deng Xiaoping, Mao’s successor, the other day. It was very educational, because it showed how China has in fact been on the road to democracy and openness since Deng Xiaoping took over from Chairman Mao. Deng Xiaoping opened Chinese commerce for market economy, allowing for private ownership and entrepreneurial exploration within Chinese economy. It is true that opposition to the Communist Party was forbidden and still is, but I cannot help but see the parallels to the old Soviet Union and it’s last Leader, Michail Gorbachev, and the process of bringing the Eastern Block into a modern world. My wife pointed out to me that the Olympics in Berlin 1936 preceded the fall of the Third Reich with 10 years, the Fall of the Soviet Union happened within 10 years of the Olympics 1980 in Moscow, if we are to believe this “predictional” time line, Communist China will fall within 10 years of this year’s Olympics in Beijing. One thing is for sure – if this happens, China will be far better prepared, politically, socially and financially than both Germany and the Soviet Union were.

Henric C Jensen

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Olympics, Doping and the uncertainty of results

Posted by Henric C. Jensen on August 11, 2008

It used to be fun to watch the Olympics. The athletes were heroes. As a small boy I dreamed of being an Olympian. Not that I was ever good at sports – but the mere nature of Olympism made it possible, at least in my small boy mind.Back then all athletes were fair, honest and clean. They reached their records and results through hard work, dedication and commitment, or at least that was what I and my peers thought.

The came Ben Johnson and his abuse of steroids when I was in my twenties – an entire world was dumbfounded – what had happened? With the realization that athletes used enhancement drugs to achieve their results came a sneaking sense that no results could be trusted. By the time of the fall of the Berlin Wall every nation had suspect athletes in their ranks, and hoards of them came forwards from the former Eastern European Block, where doping had been not only the regiment of the day for the individual athlete, but a State Practice.

Numerous World and Olympic records will never be broken, because the athletes who set them were cheating.

The most elusive of them all, to me is Flo-Jo’s 21.34 on 200 meters sprint. I am certain that will never be broken, and I am also certain that she was using illicit drugs to be able to run that fast. She was never caught, nor was her record ever questioned, at least not openly, and now we cannot ask her, because she’s dead – but, and consider this carefully – one of the known effects of abuse of steroids is premature heart failure – Flo-Jo died at age 38 from heart failure.

China swears that this Olympics will be absolutely clean. Yet, several athletes have already been sent home after testing positive for various banned substances.

I will be watching the events in this year’s Olympic Games, and for the most part I will enjoy myself, but every now and then will I ask, quietly “is that athlete clean?”. Because for each that is caught, I am sure that a handful is not.

I wish I was a small boy again, watching my heroes with unreserved adoration and belief that one day it could be me.


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The Olympics, China and Human Rights

Posted by Henric C. Jensen on August 11, 2008

The Tibetans are just the first and most visible “problem” the Chinese are trying to “solve”

August 6, 2008, 22.25 CET

“I’m saying that the Games are a force for the world that will promote the social evolution in China, and the Games are a catalyst for change in China,” Rogge said. “But the Games, at the same time, are not the panacea for all the ills of the world.” (Jacques Rogge, IOC President).

Already 7 years ago, when China was awarded the Olympic Games this year I said that the Games would help focus the world’s attention on China and its violations of human rights.

I think I was right, I think I still am.

The Games themselves cannot solve the problem, but because the Games are Global and so uniquely covered by media, not just during the Games but also prior to them, the Olympic Games has in fact already done more to focus on and push China’s human rights violations to the forefront of average peoples’ minds, than what not awarding China and Beijing the Games in the first place could ever have done.

It may be that Samaranch used the globality of the Games to pick up financial revenues worth more than $2 billion by commercializing the Games which was part of the deal with China, but the price China is paying for that monetary kick-back is an increased scrutiny, criticism and awareness among ordinary people of exactly what is wrong in China today. It may be that these Olympic Summer Games will, in theory and technics, be a huge propaganda success, but exactly because focus has been on China for the last 7 years, people will see through the propaganda.

“The United States Olympic Committee had issued the specially designed masks to protect athletes from the potentially harmful air here. The U.S.O.C.’s lead exercise physiologist, Randy Wilber, had advised the athletes to wear the masks on the plane and as soon as they stepped foot here.”[…]”But U.S.O.C. officials were apparently unhappy with their choice, scolding the cyclists for walking off the plane wearing the masks because it might embarrass the host country, Friedman and Lea said. The cyclists said they did not remember the name of the official who spoke with them.”

Pollution is going to be a problem in Beijing – issuing breathing masks to athletes is a good thing. It wouldn’t be the first time, so it smacks of hypocrisy for the USOC to chastise the athletes for taking the advice of the USOC chief physician.

It is actually a human right to protect one’s health, and it would be a violation of that right to deny the athletes this protection, or say that they shouldn’t use what protection they can get when they feel they want to or need to.

Henric C. Jensen

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