- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Something’s cooking on Mount Olympus, and it doesn’t smell like Szechuan Chicken with Chef’s Famous Garlic Sauce. Zeus and the gang are frowning on Beijing.

The latest Chinese rape of Tibet is putting second thoughts into the heads of people you might not expect to entertain tough thoughts. “There will be a boycott of some sort,” says Edward McMillan-Scott, vice president of the European Parliament. “What kind of boycott, is the question right now. At a minimum, I think the European Union should require that no elected official from the 27-member [European] states attend the opening ceremony. But that is a minimum.”

The Chinese tasted a bit of what’s coming when two men breached the line of a thousand cops yesterday to unfurl a boycott-the-Olympics flag at the lighting of the Olympic torch at Ancient Olympia. The flag portrays the interlocking Olympics rings as handcuffs, like those stockpiled to greet impolite visitors at the Beijing games. A Tibetan couple were arrested on a road outside the ancient Olympian stadium when they fell to the pavement to obstruct a Chinese runner. Two more Tibetans were arrested when they unfurled a Tibetan flag from a balcony; an Indian tourist was detained on suspicion of “planning a pro-Tibetan incident.”

Another boycott, like that of the Moscow Olympics in 1980, at first seems unlikely. “No, absolutely not,” a spokesman for the U.S. Olympic Committee told ABC News yesterday. “No consideration is being given to a boycott. There is no discussion. We would never entertain it. It’s not on the table.” But with a denial like that, you never know.

The Chinese, who have learned they can behave with raucous contempt for the concerns of the rest of the world, obviously think they will pay no penalty for killing a hundred Tibetans (and probably many more) for celebrating their national day. The drumbeat of slander and libel of the Dalai Lama continues. When a hundred students at the Central University of Beijing held a candlelight vigil for the slain Tibetans, more than a dozen were led away in handcuffs to “assist the authorities in their investigation.” One European professor who was a witness told correspondents: “It was just a group of Tibetans praying, but it was organized, so the Chinese freaked out.”

Organized prayer always freaks out Chinese officials. It’s the organization, since it can’t be the prayer. When I once asked a Chinese ambassador at lunch why his government was so terrified of the Falun Gong, several of whom were at that moment chanting and waving banners outside his embassy on Connecticut Avenue, he replied with unconvincing incredulity: “Do you know that Falun Gong deny the deity of Jesus Christ?” When I asked whether his remarkable question reflected a change in his government’s resolute atheism, he appeared flustered, and changed the subject.

Tibet is a special case for Beijing; the Dalai Lama is particularly reviled for standing up to brutal authority. Alice Thomson writes in the London Daily Telegraph of visiting the Dalai Lama in his exile at a hill station in India. An old woman arrived at the gate to ask for a blessing from the man the Tibetans call the Lord of Compassion. She told how she was arrested for carrying a picture of the Dalai Lama in the folds of her skirt. She was dragged through the streets by her hair and thrown into an open-air prison when she refused to spit on the photograph. She was raped repeatedly and suspended upside down by the Chinese soldiers, and forced to sleep on the bodies of dead inmates. When she was finally released she was told that her husband had been forced to marry a Chinese woman, and she would never see her children again.

If the fun and games must go on, the assembled heads of state ought at least raise a glass of their plum wine in salute to the strength, the courage and the bravery of the Tibetans. They deserve the gold.

Wesley Pruden is editor emeritus of The Times.