Sunday, 04 May 2008 15:36 Penny Starr Editorial Dept - Asia

Human rights groups from around the globe gathered outside the U.S. Capitol Thursday to start the 100-day countdown to the 2008 Olympics in Beijing by denouncing the Chinese government and calling on world leaders, including President Bush, to boycott the games' opening ceremony on Aug. 8.

"We stand here today to expose the cruelty of the Chinese government against innocent people around the world and to protest China's role as the foremost enabler of human rights abuses around the world," said Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kansas), who organized the press conference.

Brownback was joined by congressional colleagues from both sides of the aisle and almost a dozen human rights organizations, including the North Korean Freedom Coalition, Save Darfur, International Campaign for Tibet, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International.

In statements made by each legislator and representatives from the human rights groups, each speaker called on Bush and other world leaders to support the athletes, including the Chinese athletes, but to boycott the opening ceremony to "send a message" that China needs to live up to the promise it made when it won its bid to host the 2008 Olympics.

U.S. Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) was the only speaker to highlight China's "one-child policy," as one of the most grievous human rights violations perpetrated by the Communist regime.

Under the law, Chinese women are allowed to have only one child and if they become pregnant a second time they usually are forced to undergo an abortion.

"China today is the worst human rights violator in the world," Smith said. "No (other country) comes close in the scope or depravity - the fact that women are forcibly aborted, with approximately 10 million women per year suffering that horrific fate."

"We now have a problem in China where there may be as many as 100 million girls missing since 1979 when it initiated the one-child per couple policy," Smith said. "By 2020, 40 million men in China won't be able to find wives because they have been killed by a coercive population control measure."

"This in gendercide," he said. "You've all heard of genocide. This is gendercide where girls are targeted for extinction precisely because they are girls." Because male babies are favored in China, if the first baby is female, she is often aborted so the mother may try to get pregnant again and have a male baby.

When asked by Cybercast News Service about legalized abortion in the United States, Smith said the number of abortions in this country - about 1 million a year - is also cause for concern.

"I believe abortion is a violation of human rights against children and women," Smith said.

Brownback and other speakers said that all of the attention focused on the Olympics provides an opportunity to draw attention to a China that goes against the spirit of the games.

"I want to thank all the member of Congress who joined us here and all the groups who fight for human rights around the world and who help point out that the Olympic rings now represent Tibet, Darfur, Burma, North Korea, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and so many other nations where Chinese sponsorship enables human rights abuses and destroys so many lives," Brownback said.

Penny Starr Senior Staff Writer

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