Will human rights take forefront after Olympics?

By Marie Leonard

All across the globe, from the grassy plains of the Midwestern United States to the heart of Europe, all eyes will be on China in the upcoming months. The decision to hold the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing has been stirring up controversy and causing protests around the world.

The citizens of China and other countries around the world are hoping that holding the Olympic Games in Beijing will catalyze the development of human rights in the region. One Chinese activist began a recent campaign with the slogan, "We don't want the Olympics, we want human rights."

Monks in Tibet have been standing up against the Chinese government since early March. With the upcoming Olympic Games, it is a prime time for Tibetans to begin actively protesting Chinese rule, since the entire world is watching closely. The Chinese government is currently ruling Tibet, enforcing strict regulations on media and religion. The monks are standing up for their rights and are utilizing this time wisely to include other countries as allies.

However, it is not certain that the Chinese government will actually adhere to any of the wishes of these citizens and protesters any time soon. Chinese protesters and journalists are easily imprisoned, and the death penalty rate is one of the highest in the world. Chinese and Tibetan citizens do not have much information about the Tibetan monk protests since the government has installed a firewall, blocking the majority of foreign websites and media.

The Chinese government has been asked to remove the restrictions on the Internet for the Olympics, since there will be an estimated 30,000 journalists in China during the games. It will be difficult for the foreign media to access websites hosted in America and Europe, since China restricts most foreign websites. However, there is no way to tell what is going on inside the minds of Chinese government officials.

The Olympics have brought out the protesters, but will they stay after the Olympics are over? All human beings deserve basic human rights, and there is no doubt there is a need for reform in the Chinese government

Although the problems in China are not going to be solved overnight, if citizens keep protesting after the Olympics are over, there will be changes. The proposed boycott of the opening ceremony should not just be used for a publicity statement, but it should be the starting point of a grassroots tactic to help the Chinese citizens gain human rights.

Although there might not be much policy change in the form of government in China, after enough time has passed, the implementation of basic human rights may be instilled back to the people of China.

Many rights citizens in democracies around the world are taken for granted. Yet, until 1920 women in America were not allowed to vote. Thanks to Sister Suffragette, women across the country can now take part in one of the most basic forms of human rights. Our own country was formed by colonists who were tired of being taken advantage of by a series of taxes and unpopular laws. Nelson Mandela spent 27 years in prison for protesting apartheid, but afterwards he became the president of South Africa.

Changing the world is not easy; it takes time and extreme determination. People risk their lives in order to make changes, and this is how freedom is born. In China, there are many restrictions on citizens, and it is going to take time and effort to see drastic changes. However, slowly but surely, the citizens of China and others around the world will make a difference.

Copyright © 2008 Pine Log

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