Don’t block Olympic torchThe Beijing Olympic torch relay will hit bumpy roads in South Korea as well. Torch carriers have boycotted the event and protesters are expected to block its movement on Sunday when it is expected to pass through South Korea.
Both Park Won-soon, executive director of the Hope Institute, and Choi Seung-guk, secretary general of Green Korea, who were asked chances to carry the torch by the Chinese Olympic Committee, yesterday expressed their desire to boycott. North Korean human rights activists and about 100 conservative groups are organizing a civic movement to obstruct the Beijing Olympic torch relay at Olympic Park in Seoul.Some North Korean refugee groups plan to block the torch’s path.
Such a movement is understandable as a protest against China’s human rights violations and actions that have forcefully suppressed the pro-independence Tibetan demonstrators and repatriated North Korean refugees against their will.
Based on their individual tenets, people are free to refuse to carry the torch. Civic groups should also rightfully be guaranteed their freedom of expression. But they shouldn’t obstruct or stop the torch relay itself. No one has such a right.
The Olympic Games are a messenger of universal peace and competition in sports. Such a spirit should not be tarnished by political problems.
Nonetheless, the ongoing Beijing Olympic torch relay has suffered political turmoil as it passed through several countries. The torch was extinguished by anti-Chinese protesters and the relay route had to be curtailed or changed. Such obstructions should not be repeated in our territory.
It is not right to use physical force to press China, the host of the August 2008 Olympic Games, to respect human rights. We, as mature people, should respect peace and allow the torch to pass over Korean soil smoothly.