Thursday, 17 April 2008

Must take stance on China

I spent over a third of my life in a country that wasn't free. Although I was a child I can clearly remember some aspects of political ill-liberty. I also remember how much it mattered to us that people on the outside cared - if someone jumped the fence they were welcomed as political refugees and there were people in free countries openly calling out the totalitarian acts of the state.

I therefore feel an obligation to say publicly I believe it is not OK to pretend things are OK in China. I desire to learn about China. With the little I know I long to learn more about the country, culture, cuisine. I know there are massive differences in cultural attitudes to both individual and collective rights and some practices that would be unacceptable in a Western liberal democracy are the norm fully accepted by the people.

But I don't care who wins the Olympics and I don't care if parallels with Berlin 1936 are realistic or not. Whether the Olympics are big, lavish , flawless doesn't matter - they still take place in a totalitarian state, which suppresses many individual freedoms and executes people without due process on a massive scale. Any leader of a liberal democracy who appears at the Beijing games, and perhaps even every sportswoman or sportsman who takes part dignify the Chinese communist regime.

P.S. The photo is from an award-winning campaign for Slovak Amnesty International by MUW Saatchi & Saatchi.