19th anniversary, as delivered on June 1 2008, calls for IOC action
By John Kusumi
(video version on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PwQnhPFE-k8 now)
Thank you, Ciping.
--Well, I know that Sichuan province has experienced a tragedy. And the residents there have all of my good wishes and my hopes. It is important to mourn for the dead, but it is also important to care for the living. I hope that Sichuan province will return stronger than ever. It's a strong community. We have begun to see the humanity of Chinese people reaching out to help other people who may in fact be strangers. But everyone's hearts go out to the victims of the earthquake. And I hope that the next generation of buildings in Sichuan province will be strong enough to withstand an earthquake.
--I will also say that there are some errors of reasoning that have made their way into the news media. There may be some wishful propagandists on behalf of the Communist Party who think, "You know, gee, there's been an earthquake and now we have all of the world's sympathy and so that means there is no more human rights problem. Or that there is no more public relations problem."
That is a flawed and faulty line of reasoning. The existence of an earthquake or any news event does not erase what came before.
You can imagine, for example, if someone was a bandit or a murderer and stabbed someone to death, and he's caught by the police and he's put into the jail and he's waiting for his trial; And then, an earthquake happens and it shakes up the jail. Well, two weeks later maybe the prisoner goes on trial and stands before a judge to answer for his crime.
If the prisoner makes a plea for leniency and tries to say, "Well, your honor (to the judge) I am 'not guilty by reason of earthquake,' which -- this terrible thing happened to me." That's not an excuse. The judge would not accept that. That man could be laughed out of court.
It's true that Sichuan province has an enormous tragedy. And yes, we want the improvement of that situation in that province. But this does not excuse the Communist Party from the wider questions of human rights. Questions that are raised when we think about the June 4 massacre: the victims whom we are here to commemorate tonight.
These questions about human rights are raised when we think of the Falun Gong persecution that has continued now for far too long: nine years of deadly persecution.
The questions of human rights come up when we hear about the Tibetan uprising, as it just happened two months ago.
These issues do not go away based on one event in the news. The freedom fighters do not go away based on one event in the news. The cause, the movement, the issue in general -- of Chinese democracy and freedom and human rights for the entire region -- that is a very strong cause. That could surprise some observers for being a stronger cause with more staying power than it is sometimes credited for in the news media.
And so I regret to see faulty news reports that suggest 'the Communist Party is off the hook and there's no remaining problem about the Olympics.'
--I know well that there's a problem about the Olympics; I have been putting together the Freedom First Olympics Second Coalition. And that is a group, you just heard the theme song [which] was played by our rock band here, Light Club. [* Performance on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4qU-mkCKV58 now] And we have put this together to say, 'No, you cannot have the Olympics without freedom.'
And the Chinese people themselves ought to stand up and say the same thing to Beijing: that they want freedom first, and Olympics second. It's very important. It matters greatly. It would mean much to China; to history; and to future generations. And so we continue to call for the International Olympic Committee to do the right thing and remove these Olympics from Beijing.
Alright, there's one more meeting: on Wednesday, on June 4; the IOC will be meeting. And they still have the power to change the venue of these Olympics.
They could put the Olympics into Athens. Athens is a city which had the Olympics four years ago. That means that they have enough stadiums; they have enough hotels; they have the capacity in Athens to hold the Olympics.
And I hope that the IOC will at last arrive at having a conscience, and an awareness, and [will] admit that there is a problem. And to hold off from holding the Olympics in Beijing China unless and until China has become free and democratic and extends human rights to all that are under its rule.
And so that's the message from the Coalition. I thank you on behalf of myself; on behalf of the Coaltiion; the China Support Network; and the rock band Light Club.
Thank you folks; I value your presence and I will be back here with you next year. We will observe the 20th anniversary of the exact same massacre, unfortunately. Thank you; good night now.