Sunday, April 29, 2007

Protest Celil imprisonment by boycotting retailers

By Mel Basbaum, Dundas
The Hamilton Spectator

(Apr 24, 2007)

Re: 'Life in prison for Celil; China claims Canadian conducted separatist and terrorist activities' (April 20)

Clearly our government will have no influence over the treatment of Huseyin Celil by the Chinese.

I recommend some form of boycott by Canadians. Boycotting Chinese goods is unlikely to have much effect since Canadians are such a small part of their export market.

As an alternative I would recommend a boycott of a large multinational retailer who profits from doing business with the Chinese, but also cares about their business in Canada.

I suggest starting with a company such as Wal-Mart. It markets Chinese products to Canadians and can bring pressure to bear on the Chinese government.

Other companies could be added later, including fast-food chains who profit from their outlets in China.

Respond to Celil situation with Olympic boycott

By Jeremy Woodley, Dundas
The Hamilton Spectator
(Apr 28, 2007)

Re: 'Protest Celil imprisonment by boycotting retailers' and 'Canada will continue to push for Celil, says minister' (both Letters, April 24)

Both of these letters responded to the life imprisonment of Canadian/Chinese citizen Huseyin Celil for "separatist activities" in the Uighur Autonomous Region of China.

Mel Basbaum, opining that our government will have no influence on the Chinese, suggests a boycott by Canadians of companies such as Wal-Mart which market Chinese products in Canada. While not wishing to discourage this proposal, I think many people of principle already avoid Wal-Mart (if they can afford to) because of its labour policies. But there is another possible strategy.

In his letter, Foreign Affairs Minister Peter Mackay stated that, "the government of Canada remains seriously concerned about the human rights situation in China." Given that, why does it not ask its athletes to boycott the 2008 Olympic Games?

There are many possible grounds for such action -- Celil, other imprisoned activists, alleged organ harvesting from detainees, the takeover of Tibet and suppression of Buddhism, Chinese support for Sudan over Darfur, excessive use of capital punishment. In all these cases, China will claim they are internal matters but they are incompatible with the Olympic spirit of fair play.

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