China Imprisons Human Rights Activist

A Chinese cocurt jailed one of the govenment’s most prominent critics to a jail sentence of three and a half years on charges of subversion. The United States denounced the sentencing and the European Union called for immediate release of Hu Jia who has pursued fighting for democratic rights and self determination for Tibet. The jailing of the dissident is bound to lead to new pressures on the Olympic Committee to take a stand against these undemocratic practices. The 34 year-old fighter for human rights has been under house arrest(along with his wife and daughter) for over 200 days prior to his conviction.

Lawyers for Hu Jia said the dissident admitted some of his statements had been “excessive” and he acknowledged his comments went against the law as written. Hu Jia essentially is in a “Catch-22″ situation of living in a nation which has undemocratic laws so if he complains about them, he is, by definition, engaged in an illegal action. The decision was issued just as IOC representatives were meeting in Beijing.

The Olympics are an important even not merely for the Chinese government but for the people of China. An all-out boycott undoubtedly would infuritate the people of China which would interpret such an action as directed against the entire nation, not the government which imprisonded Hu Jia. However, a boycott of opening ceremonies would send a message to the Chinese government how the world interprets their undemocratic behavior. The IOC also has to make clear to the Chinese government any attempt to squash free speech on the part of particpants will result in immediate cancellation of the Olympics.