Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Open Book China

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Open Book China

The last time I was in China they took us to see a duck farm. To this day I don't now why, except that was only thing they would let us a film. Ducks. Cops and goons followed us everywhere and when we weren't under their tender care, we were confined to our hotel.

Now this same country is staging the Olympic Games. They've come a long way… or have they? I guess a flat "no", would be my answer. These games should be boycotted. Just like the IOC should have stopped the games in Munich when 11 Israeli athletes were massacred.

But there will be no stopping these games despite the cant and hypocrisy from Chinese and the IOC. China made solemn vows to get the games: freedom of the press, better human rights, cleaner cities and facilties that would meet world standards.

The IOC actually had the courage to "mention" the recent world media centre Internet fiasco but then executed an extraordinary back flip over press freedom and the Internet by asserting that the Chinese had the right to block non-Olympic sites.

But what did it and the Chinese say about the 100 journalists, bloggers and dissidents in prison for "crimes against the state"? Nothing. What about restrictions and censorship of all media? Nothing. What the staggering estimated number of 6000 executions a year? Nothing. What about the slave labour used to build the facilities? Nothing.

So the Chinese lied and lied again and the disgraceful, often corrupt and venal IOC said nothing. The games will go ahead as a celebration of the coming together of nations. They will run and jump for gold medals and laurel wreaths, and throw kisses to the cameras and the crowds.

And when the games are over, the jailing of journalists will carry on. The executions will carry on. The censorship will carry on. The slave labourers will carry on – in sweatshops stocking the shelves of Wal-Mart.

And the world, and the IOC will say: Well done, China. Well done.

Not me. I say anyone who gives a damn about human rights and freedom of the press will boycott the games of the 29th Olympiad. And let the Chinese go higher, faster, stronger on their own.

The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book: Toronto.

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John Scully

John Scully has been a journalist for almost fifty years and has covered stories in seventy countries for major international news and current affairs organizations. His book, Am I Dead Yet? A Journalist's Perspective on Terrorism, was published in spring 2008 by Fitzhenry and Whiteside.

Go to John Scully’s Author Page