Let the Games Begin
A Perception by Eddie Griffin
Today, I will filter my focus on the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, China. What will I find? I don’t know, exactly, because I know not what the day may hold. But I will be looking for Darfur in China, during the Olympics.
President George W. Bush mildly criticized China on its human rights policies and practices. The Chinese politely retorted that Bush mind his own business and leave China alone. Within the past few days, there have been protests going up around the country over China’s relationship with the Sudan government, its oil interest in the country, its arms trade, and the brutal suppression and genocide in the region of Darfur.
On July 31, 2007, the UN Security Council unanimously passed Resolution 1769 authorizing a UN-African Union peacekeeping force for Darfur. While passage of the resolution provided hope to millions of Darfuri civilians, ensuring the full deployment of more than 26,000 peacekeepers requires our vigilant action. The Government of Sudan has a long record of signing international agreements then obstructing their implementation – and with only some 10,000 peacekeepers on the ground more than nine months after deployment began, it is clear that more pressure is needed. Key actors – both economic and political – must take a stand to help ensure Khartoum moves forward and UNAMID is fully deployed as quickly as possible.
These actors include the four oil companies that have come to dominate Sudan’s oil industry: the China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC), China Chemical and Petroleum Corporation (Sinopec Corp.), Petroliam Nasional Berhad (Petronas), and Oil and Natural Gas Corporation of India-Videsh (OVL).
Ultimately, the Government of Sudan is responsible for ending human rights abuses in Darfur. But companies operating in Sudan cannot ignore the Darfur crisis or pretend they have no influence.
Over 20 U.S. states, nine cities, 50 colleges and universities, numerous private institutional investors, and countless individuals have adopted Sudan investment policies regarding these companies. Recently, financial industry leaders like Morgan Stanley and T. Rowe Price have joined their ranks. These investors, with hundreds of billions of assets under management, have recognized their unique shareholder risk and responsibility associated with the Darfur crisis. I hope that you will seriously considering doing the same.
Mason, OH 45040-7916
UPDATES FROM: Eddie Griffin at BASG
Human Rights Activists Trumpet ICC Actions on Darfur
Human rights activists say Sudan's allies and trading partners, such as China, are obligated to re-evaluate and adjust their dealings with Khartoum, now that the International Criminal Court has given notice of possible genocide in Sudan's Darfur region.
Last month, the ICC took steps to indict Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir for war crimes. The court's chief prosecutor accused Mr. Bashir of masterminding a campaign of rape and murder targeting people in Sudan's violence-wracked Darfur region, and requested a warrant for the Sudanese leader's arrest.
Human rights activists say the ICC actions amount to a finding of likely genocide in Darfur, and that such a finding triggers clear obligations for the international community, particularly nations that deal closely with Sudan.
Betsy Apple specializes in crimes against humanity for the New York-based group Human Rights First.
"Every country in the world is on notice that there is a serious risk of genocide occurring in Darfur. Under the [United Nations] Genocide Treaty, states are obligated to take every conceivable action they can to prevent genocide," said Apple. "And the treaty does not require that states know for certain that genocide is happening. Rather, it is enough that states know that there is a serious risk of genocide occurring in order for this obligation to prevent genocide to kick in."
Apple was speaking in a conference call with the news media.
Also appearing on the conference call was international law expert Jerry Fowler, who heads the Save Darfur Coalition. Fowler says no nation has more extensive ties to Khartoum than China. Therefore, under the U.N. Genocide Treaty, Chinese officials bear the greatest responsibility to take immediate, decisive action to end bloodshed in Darfur.
"They have been a key protector of the government of Sudan in the United Nations Security Council. In effect, they have been the 'heat shield' of Khartoum in the Security Council. Secondly, they are a major arms supplier of the government of Sudan. A U.N. database indicates that 90 percent of arms transfers to Sudan come from China," said Fowler. "The third thing is their intimate and expanding economic relationship [with Sudan]."
Whether or not the international community takes note of ICC pronouncements, President Bashir has said his country will not cooperate with the court. At the same time, the African Union has expressed concern that ICC actions could complicate efforts to bring peace to Darfur. Sudan maintains that reports of 200,000 deaths in Darfur are exaggerated, and the genocide label is inaccurate.
Olympics: Activists Barred From Games By Chinese Government
The Chinese government on Tuesday revoked the visa of 2006 Olympic gold medalist Joey Cheek, effectively barring the speedskating champion and social activist from attending the 2008 Beijing Games.
Cheek is co-founder of Team Darfur, an organization composed of athletes attempting to draw attention to human rights violations in Darfur. China is a major customer of the oil produced in the war-torn region of Sudan.
Cheek said that Team Darfur's co-founder, former UCLA water polo player Brad Greiner, had received a similar call about 10 minutes earlier. The two had planned to attend the Games, which officially open on Friday, to support more than 70 Olympians from around the world who have signed on to support Team Darfur.
(“Olympics: Activists Barred From Games By Chinese Government”, Washington Post, 08.06.08).
Lopez Lomong: Star of the East
Essay by Eddie Griffin
The Star of the East is over Beijing, China. The 2008 Olympics is supposed to bring humanity together in the spirit of competitive sports. But the old communist ways are still the same, to present China as the perfect socialist country... which means hiding dirty laundry, sweeping its brutal repressions under the rugs, and overshadow human rights with commericalism and modernism to the nth degree.
This is not political, they say. But some say otherwise.
China may be able to dodge criticism over its handling of Tibet. But its complicity with the Sudanese government and the atrocities in Darfur cannot be hidden by thick gray smog. The little star of hope for Darfur will shine through and take center stage at the Beijing Olympics.
One of the Lost Boys of Sudan, from the region of Darfur, ran and ran and ran, across the harsh terrains of Africa all the way to the United States, continued running in schools and colleges in America, to win a spot of the Olympics Team. It was the Star of the East always before the eyes of Lopez Lomong.
Leading the way for the Star to shine on Darfur is a cadre of about 70 US athletes who opposes China relationship with Sudan and its brutal repression of Darfur. These Olympic athletes call themselves Team Darfur. They are led by Olympic gold medalist speed-skater, Joey Cheek, whose visa to Beijing was suddenly revoked.
But Olympic teammates selected the Lost Boy of Darfur, Sudan, Lopez Lomong, to carry the US flag and lead the team onto the field. What an honor! As the flag enters the stadium, all the eyes of the world will turn to this boy from Darfur, who ran his way into history. For once, the eyes of the world will be open to the plight of the people in Darfur.
Thanks to the Olympic athletes who chose to make a statement in a different way, one which will surely have an impact.
"It's more than a dream," Lomong said in an interview with The Associated Press moments after he got the news. "I keep saying, I'm not sure if this is true or not true. I'm making the team and now I'm the first guy coming to the stadium and the whole world will be watching me carry the flag. There are no words to describe it."
A record 204 delegations were set to parade their athletes through the stadium — superstars such as basketball idols Kobe Bryant and Yao Ming, as well as plucky underdogs from Iraq, Afghanistan and other embattled lands. The nations were marching not in the traditional alphabetical order but in a sequence based on the number of strokes it takes to write their names in Chinese. The exceptions were Greece, birthplace of the Olympics, which was given its traditional place at the start, and the 639-member Chinese team, which lined up last.
The American flag-bearer was 1500-meter runner Lopez Lomong, one of the Lost Boys of Sudan, who spent a decade of his youth in a refugee camp in Kenya. He's a member of the Team Darfur coalition, representing athletes opposed to China's support for Sudan. On Friday he avoided any criticism and said the Chinese "have been great putting all these things together."
I found an interesting dialogue over at Slant Truth.
Kai on August 7th, 2008 3:44 am
I’ve lived in China, was born in the US, but refuse to pay homage to the US as the ultimate arbiter of justice, It seems to me that US citizens may want to first turn their attention to, say, stopping their nation from bombing and occupying faraway lands at the cost of hundreds of thousands of lives before getting into moralistic international brow-beating. And if you’re unable to get that done, you might consider being humble enough to ease up on the self-righteous stick-waving which just looks stupid when your money is dropping bombs on folks.
Kevin on August 7th, 2008 4:03 am
Just gotta say that I wholeheartedly think Kai’s comment is something that we all need to pay attention to.
I agree with Kai that we, United States Citizens, definitely are not in the position to go around calling the kettle black unless we are also taking our own gov’t to task for their crimes and misdeeds. In fact, we need to be doing that first and foremost.
I hope that my post doesn’t come off as giving the US a pass on these matters because I’m not even trying to go there.
Kai on August 7th, 2008 12:03 pm
Hi Kevin, hehe no I don’t think you’re trying to go there. I’m just generally pissy at the moment at the manner in which China and Chinese people are discussed (and not discussed) in US media, and this annoyance spills over into these discussions on the matter. Sorry about that.
I guess there’s a philosophical question in the background here regarding the moral platform from which judgments and condemnations are launched. I would argue that none of us can claim universal stature as equal arbiters on all nations. Others might claim that they do indeed harbor a universal perspective. But I contend that we are soaked in the lens of our particular surroundings and that this lens colors everything we see and think about another country.
When it comes to China, the lens is deep and complicated, as are the interests pushing various angles.
In any case, I should stop derailing threads with my annoyance. The truth remains that the dealings between certain Chinese businesses and Darfur are incredibly dirty. I wish we could just say that without context and without worry, but you know how it is: such probings always spill over into more complex terrain.
Thanks for listening, bro.
[Excerpted from: http://slanttruth.com/2008/08/07/darfur-activist-loses-china-visa/#comments]
Eddie Griffin Response:
We are all not necessary blinded by the beam in our own eye. One of my objectives in criticizing China on its human rights practices was for the purpose of China pointing back at the United States human rights violations.
Specially, the United States is guilty of violating the Right of the Child Soldier by incarcerating children from the age of 10 to 16 years of age, in the combat zones of Iraq and Afghanistan.
Secondly, the Chinese have the right to point out that the United States torture its captives, which is less harsh than the handling of Tibetan monk dissidents.
No, we have not forgotten about the human rights violations of female soldiers in the US military who have been raped and murdered like Pfc. LaVena Johnson.
Shining the light on human rights violations in one part of the world shines the light on travesties in other parts of the world.
Today, it is China. Not that China is the most brutal or inhumane regime, but because the spotlight is on China. In fact, the country begged for the 2008 Olympic global limelight. But, through its relationship with Sudan, China’s hands are bloody in Darfur.
We will not let oil companies like China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) and China Chemical and Petroleum Corporation (Sinopec Corp.) go unnoticed in its commercial dealing with the government of Sudan.
China buys Sudan’s oil from Gen. Omar al-Bashir, who came to power in a 1989 coup, and is held in power only by the weapons he buys from China to suppress dissidence and rebellion. The International Criminal Court gave notice of possible genocide in Sudan's Darfur region. The ICC took steps to indict Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir for war crimes. The court's chief prosecutor accused Mr. Bashir of masterminding a campaign of rape and murder targeting people in Sudan's violence-wracked Darfur region.
Murder, rape, and pillage are being systematically carried out by Janjaweed militia, which has left over 300,000 Durfurians dead and 2,000,000 dislocated and homeless. A recent BBC report states that in a recent Janjaweed attack upon a convoy left six people dead and 28 wounded. So, we know that the atrocities continue.
The Christian Science Monitor makes the argument that Omar al-Bashir is actually stealing the oil from the people of Sudan, like a thug dictator who plunders his country’s treasury, and that China’s willful complicity is that of knowingly buying stolen and plundered goods. The Sudanese president has since defied the Big Eight and bullied the African Union into silence.
Today (8/8/08), the onus is on China.