“It would be tragic if President Bush joined the opening celebrations of the Olympics while hundreds of thousands of innocent Chinese are being brutalized and tortured in prisons for their faith and political views,” said the US-based Christian Defense Coalition (CDC) statement monitored by BosNewsLife.
The call came amid reports of a fresh government crackdown on house churches and Christian missionaries in China. Pro-democracy protests in Tibet and other areas in China have also been targeted.
The family of a detained Christian in China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region reportedly fears that he may be executed on charges of "separatism" and "endangering national security" after protests against the Chinese government in the area and neighboring Tibet.
Alimujiang Yimiti, whose name is also spelled as Alimjan Yimit, is an ex-Muslim and currently a house church leader, who was detained January 12, by security forces because of his evangelical activities, local Christians said.
The CDC said a boycott of the Beijing Olympics in August by President Bush, "would send a powerful message to the Chinese government regarding their crushing of human rights and religious liberty.”
The White House on Friday, April 11, said Bush would attend the Beijing Olympics but kept up the suspense over whether he would skip the August 8 opening ceremonies.
It came one day after Republican White House hopeful John McCain joined a chorus of critics, saying Bush should consider skipping the ceremony "if Chinese policies and practices do not change" on human rights.
The CDC warned that if the president participated in the opening ceremonies, “it would give the Chinese government a valuable piece of propaganda allowing them to say, ‘China’s human rights record cannot be that bad if President Bush is personally celebrating the opening of the Olympics with us’."
CDC Director Patrick J. Mahoney said that Bush and others must realize that, “Millions of Christians, and those with other religious traditions, are routinely oppressed and
even tortured by the government of China.”
He added that, "China promotes the barbaric practice of forced abortion and sterilization. Of course, the world has been shocked by the recent oppression of the Tibetan people."
That view was shared by hundreds of fenced-off protesters in Buenos Aires, where Argentine runners relayed the Olympic torch.
Activists opposing China’s human rights record unfurled banners and promised "entertaining surprises" but pledged to keep their demonstrations peaceful after protests marred stops in London, Paris and San Francisco.
However hundreds of China supporters in red windbreakers tried to reverse weeks of bad publicity for the host of the Summer Games, reporters said. Hundreds of spectators cheered as Chinese delegates wearing Argentina’s blue-and-white lit the torch from a lantern that has carried the flame from the site of the ancient Olympic games in Greece.