Athletes Speak Out on Human Rights as Beijing Olympics Come to an End..

‘My Heart Aches Watching This’: Athletes Speak Out on Human Rights as Beijing Olympics Come to an End
Latvia’s Martins Rubenis competes during the Men’s Luge Singles run two at the Sliding Center Sanki during the Sochi Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, on Feb. 8, 2014. (Lionel Bonaventure/AFP via Getty Images)

‘My Heart Aches Watching This’

Had it been up to him, Latvia’s luge coach Martins Rubenis would never have made the trip to the Beijing Winter Olympic Games. Indeed, he didn’t know if he would even be allowed into China until the very last moment.

A two-time Olympic bronze medalist, Rubenis was already known to the Chinese Embassy in Latvia after more than 15 years of advocacy for China’s human rights.

In 2006, he staged a hunger strike in front of the site, the same year he won bronze for his country at the Torino Olympics. He was protesting the Chinese regime’s state-sanctioned organ harvesting, which targets imprisoned adherents of Falun Gong (also known as Falun Dafa), a spiritual practice Rubenis shares, which has been persecuted in China for decades.

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