US lawmakers, Chinese dissident decry Olympic committee decision

chinaupdate (China Update)
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Saturday, July 14 10:56 AM SGT
US lawmakers, Chinese dissident decry Olympic committee decision
WASHINGTON, July 13 (AFP) - Outraged Chinese dissidents in the United States joined leading US lawmakers in protesting the decision by the International Olympic Committee to award the 2008 Olympic Games to Beijing, with one group calling for a boycott.
"Just as the Chinese government has abused the spirit of sport through conducting executions and sentencing rallies in athletic stadiums, so they will also use the economic and publicity benefits of hosting the Olympics to prop up their corrupt regime," said former political prisoner Harry Wu in a statement Friday.
Democratic House of Representative member Tom Lantos, who has led the US Congress in opposition to Beijing's Olympic bid based on its human rights record, said the IOC's decision "truly boggles the mind."
"This decision will allow the Chinese police state to bask in the reflected glory of the Olympic Games despite having one of the most abominable human rights records in the world," he said in a statement.
Officially, President George W. Bush has remained neutral on the IOC's choice. But leading members of his Republican party expressed outrage and pledged to spend the next seven years spotlighting China's human rights record.
Republican House Majority Whip Tom Delay, for example, vowed to "use every opportunity in Congress to call national and international attention to the human rights abuses, religious persecution and political oppression by the Communist government in China."
The Free China Movement called for a boycott of the event.
"As a result of the IOC's decision today we are left with no choice but to call for an international boycott of the 2008 Games," said movement spokesman Shengde Lian, also a student leader during the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre.
New York-based Human Rights Watch said the IOC would be considered an accomplice if China gets away with abuses related to the Games.
The IOC's decision came after months of stiff competition among Osaka, Paris, Toronto, Beijing and Istanbul, and much controversy over China's record of human rights.
"As a native Chinese," wrote dissident Harry Wu, "I know that today's decision has made the hearts of the Chinese people swell with pride. But in my heart I can only feel caution that the IOC has perhaps made a horrible mistake."
Wu spent 19 years in Chinese prisons for political dissent. He came to the United States in 1985 and has returned to China three times since then to investigate human rights abuses.
Wu wrote that he will "deeply regret that my native land will not have the honor and the reward of hosting the Olympic Games as a free and democratic nation."
The US Commission on International Religious Freedom -- created in 1988 to give independent recommendations to the US president and to congress -- said it was "deeply disappointed" by the IOC move.
In a statement the Commission said it hoped Bush and other leaders would now "press China to live up to the obligations it has undertaken to ensure ... that the Games take place in an atmosphere in which the religious freedom and human rights of participants, spectators, and Chinese citizens are honored and protected."
A spokeswoman for the Chinese Falungong spiritual movement called on the IOC to closely monitor the Chinese government in the years leading up to the games.
"We are calling on the IOC that there should be international representatives through the committee or through an international monitoring board (sent to China). We'd like to see it immediately," Gail Rachlin told AFP.
"We are concerned that (winning the games) will give them license to escalate their persecutions," she said.
China banned the Falungong movement in July 1999, three months after organizing a silent demonstration by 10,000 followers in central Beijing.
Since then hundreds of Falungong followers have been sentenced to prison and tens of thousands sent to reeducation camps. Human rights groups say more than 100 have died in police detention.
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