Monday, March 3, 2008

Ex-Chinese sportsman runs for rights

Ex-Chinese sportsman runs for rights

Sunday, February 24, 2008


TAIPEI, Taiwan -- A former member of China's national men's basketball team who recently completed a run across the United Sates to promote human rights and freedom for China's people took part in an "Olympic Freedom Run" in Taipei Saturday and urged people in Taiwan to "firmly defend the moral responsibility of spreading the conviction of freedom."
Kai Chen, 55, who played for China in the 1970s, has lived in the United States since the early 1980s but continues to follow China's situation concerning human rights. In 1989, shocked by the bloody suppression in Tiananmen Square, he decided to devote himself to speaking for persecuted people in China.

In August 2007, one year before the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, he set up the "Olympic Freedom Run" in Los Angeles in the hope of drawing the world's attention to the China's deplorable human rights situation.

"Taiwanese people in particular have the moral responsibility to fight for freedom, because you, who are also Chinese-speaking people, live in a free and democratic society, " said Chen. "It is not race or language that assembles all of you in Taiwan, it is because of the conviction of freedom that you share, " he went on.

"But I'm not telling you not to travel in China or participate the Beijing Olympics, " Chen said, adding that "I just hope you can go without forgetting to express your faith in freedom."

Citing the Olympic Games in Berlin in 1936, which he described as an "illusion created and propagandized by the Nazis, " Chen said he does not want to see history repeated in Beijing.

After the press conference, Chen did a symbolic 8-km run in Taipei City.

Even if his name is reportedly on the Chinese authorities' "black list, " Chen said, he is not frightened and will continue to run to raise people's awareness of the universal value of freedom.

Basketball hero pushes freedom T-shirt campaign

WEARING THE MESSAGE: Chen Kai encouraged Taiwanese to put on the campaign T-shirt when they visit Beijing in August to attend the Olympics

By Loa Iok-sin
Sunday, Feb 24, 2008, Page 2

Former Chinese basketball national team player Chen Kai wears a global Olympic freedom T-shirt during a run in Taipei yesterday.


Former Chinese basketball national team player Chen Kai (陳凱) called on Taiwanese yesterday to join the global Olympic freedom T-shirt campaign to show their support for universal human rights.

Chen moved to the US after getting married, and it was there, he said, that he began to learn about democracy.

He was shocked when he saw the violent response of the Chinese government to pro-democracy student demonstrations at Tiananmen Square in 1989, he said.

"I thought economic reform would bring about political reform -- but I never imagined that such a massacre could happen in an apparently prosperous age," he told a press conference in Taipei yesterday.

With human rights violations still a serious problem in China, Chen launched his "Olympic Freedom T-shirt Movement" in the US last year.

"I'm neither asking you to boycott the Beijing Olympics, nor to protest against the authoritarian regime of the Chinese Communist Party by not participating in the Olympics, but to follow the conscientiousness and courage in your soul and join the worldwide Olympic freedom T-shirt campaign to show your support for universal humanitarian values."

He encouraged Taiwanese athletes and visitors to wear the T-shirt as they travel to Beijing for the Games in August.

Sheng Yang Chang-ying (盛楊昌英), a spokeswoman for the activity, said Chen was not asking people to risk their personal safety by wearing the T-shirt in China as a challenge the authorities.

"Rather, he is just asking that those who agree with him do as much as they can to make their protest heard," she said.

To promote the movement, Chen has worn the T-shirt while participating in runs in several cities in the US, Canada, Australia and Germany.

Every person who has participated in the runs has received the free T-shirt.

Chen hopes to wear the T-shirt and run at least in Hong Kong, if not in China proper, Sheng Yang said.

The slogan, "Beijing 1989 -- Tiananmen, Beijing 2008 -- Olympics" appears on the T-shirt, with blood stains printed over the words. Underneath the slogan is a large picture of the Statue of Liberty used by Tiananmen Square demonstrators in 1989.

The Olympic spirit is that of freedom, not appeasing or compromising to an authoritarian regime that enslaves its own people, Chen said.

"We should remember the 1936 Olympics in Berlin -- millions of innocent people were being tortured and murdered by the Nazi regime [after the Olympic Games were held]," he said.

"History should absolutely not repeat itself," he said.
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