Silent Protest

1968: Black athletes make silent protest: Two black American athletes have made history at the Mexico Olympics by staging a silent protest against racial discrimination. (source, photo source) 

A few days ago, Slovenia’s Minister of Education and Sport Milan Zver apparently recommended , in an interview for the Associated Press, that Olympic athletes avoid talking about human rights while they are in Beijing. By today, his words have been quoted in over 300 sources online.

In the original article by the AP, “EU President Advises Against Protests“, we can read: the Economic relations between the 27-nation EU and China are moving closer all the time. Trade was doubled between 2000-05 and bilaterally reached $370 billion in 2006. Europe is China’s largest export market and China is Europe’s prime source of imports. Such clout could never be emulated by athletes, Zver said.

Zver stressed that China had already come a long way since Communist leader Mao Zedong was in power, and insisted it was steadily progressing toward democracy. To spoil its Olympic coming-out party could have an adverse effect, he argued.

“They need more time. Give them the time for that and do not use sports as an instrument.”

The Reporters Without Borders‘ take on the issue is this:

“The Slovenian sports minister is undermining the work of European institutions, human rights organisations and, in general, all those who defend basic freedoms,” … “We call on Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Jansa, whose government holds the EU presidency, and the other members of the European Council to disown Zver’s comments and to reaffirm everyone’s right, if they desire, to talk about the situation of basic freedoms in China during the Beijing games.”