A coalition of Nobel Prize-winners and international athletes, are demanding that China make dramatic changes in its Darfur policies and human rights behavior it it wishes to have full attendance at the Olympics this year. The government of China is being urged to cease trading and assisting the brutal regime of the Sudan which has unleashed thugs and murderers on the people of Darfur. The signatories also told President Hu Jantao that his government “continues to carry out atrocities against its own people.” Steven Spielberg, who is artistic adviser to the 2008 Olympics, has withdrawn from that position in protest against China’s policy toward the issue of Darfur.
China purchases about two-thirds of Sudan’s oil exports and sells weapons to the Khartoum government. The Olympics were initially envisioned as a means of bringing together people throughout the world in a spirit of harmony and friendship. But, the Chinese government continues to aid a brutal regime as well as stifling free speech and human rights within its own society. When Beiing was awarded the Olympic games in 2001 it pledged to improve basic freedoms, but dissidents are still arrested and basic rights of free speech are not at an appropriate level for a society which aspires to be a modern nation. Access to Internet is frequently blocked by the Chinese government. It is time for the world to make clear to China that changes are immediately necessary in its human rights both domestically and internationally. The first step would be for China to halt selling weapons to the Khartoum government.