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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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