Press release 26 August 2008
Olympic hangover – Media self criticism would be seemly
“It is hypocrisy of the worst kind, when the press wonders why there hasn’t been more about the human right in China during the Olympics. The truth is, that the 20,000 sports reporters in Beijing were untamable about the sports performances. They have been acting like a bunch of students from a continuation school on a picnic”, says Danish sculptor Jens Galschiot who has initiated TheColorOrange campaign in co-operation with the Chinese democracy movement in Hong Kong.
China could not dream of a better coverage of the Olympics. Associations to the media coverage during the Olympics in Berlin in 1936 seem obvious. It must be the media’s duty to inform the millions of people who are interested in the Olympics, partly about the sports results, but also about the Olympics being held in a totalitarian dictatorship with a massive violation of the human rights. The sports journalists have failed totally – critical questions to athletes, the appearing politicians and the Chinese authorities have been almost absent. Even when Ussain Bolt during his 3 legendary races, was wearing an orange bracelet, which could have been a silent signal that there is something wrong with the human rights in China. Maybe it was a coincidence, but it is remarkable that the journalists avoided asking him. Self censorship seems to be looming large.
There have been many actions in Beijing by activists, who have tried to hang up banners etc. They have all been arrested and sent out of the country. Also these actions have only been mentioned sporadically. Many have used orange as a signal color, we don’t know how many, because the journalists, who were supposed to keep an eye on this, have just been interested in sports, and according to IOC rules it’s not allowed to display political symbols, and therefore they can’t tell why they wear orange.
TheColorOrange.net group in Denmark has applied the Chinese authorities for permission to demonstrate in the ‘permitted’ areas. Even though we have sent 10 reminders and personally went to the Chinese Embassy in Copenhagen, they won’t respond to our request for a visa and the permission to legal demonstration. The authorities say that 77 have applied, and 77 have been denied. But it is probably only the top of the iceberg. How many have they ignored totally like us? Why aren’t there any questions about that?
All media have apparently sent one or two journalists to cover the critical part of the Olympics, and that has – of course, triggered some critical on-the-spot reports, but they have been few and sporadic.
Operation successful – the Patient Died. We have to admit that our ambitions to get the athletes and others to use the color orange in front of the cameras to focus on the human rights in China, has only partially succeeded. Even though some athletes, including Ussain Bolt, have been wearing an orange bracelet, the interest from the press has been nearly gone. It is at this point, that we from TheColorOrange.net group have made a mistake. We thought that the sports journalists were interested in other things beside sport, and that they would catch every opportunity to bring a story about athletes, who may have been criticizing China. This confidence in the journalists has appeared to be an Achilles’ heel to our project about using the color orange during the Olympics 2008.
On the other hand, we, the grassroots all over the world have managed to put human rights on the agenda ahead of the Olympics, where most of the articles have had a focus critical to China.
TheColorOrange campaign has been very successful, besides the 16 days where the frenzies Olympic fever was going out of control. All over the world local groups have carried out Orange activities. There have been 270,000 hits on our website, and the Orange project has been mentioned in more than 20,000 media.
“Maybe in the future the color orange will be used as a symbol in defense of human rights, both inside and outside China. So in the end we are satisfied with the project”, says the initiator of the Color Orange, Jens Galschiot, and concludes: “We shut down the project now, but we will leave our website www.TheColorOrange.net in function, so it can be used as inspiration to others, who want to use the color orange as a symbolic color.”
Further information, photos, and videos of the Orange activities: http://www.TheColorOrange.net
Contact to TheColorOrange.net in Denmark:
Jens Galschiot, Banevaenget 22, DK-5270 Odense N
Tel. +45 6618 4058, fax +45 6618 4158, mobile +45 4044 7058, e-mail: Contact@TheColorOrange.net
Contact to the Hong Kong Alliance (the democracy movement in Hong Kong):
Secretary Ocean Fung +852 2782 6111, e-mail email@example.com, Internet www.alliance.org.hk