Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Celts, Cypriots, Aborigines Raise Stink at Olympics: Ethnonationalist Protest Update

Just days ago, I published an article in this space with predictions for “10 Ethnonationalist Causes That Might Disrupt the Olympics,” but I have already been proven partly not-so-prescient on a couple points.  I correctly predicted that Circassians angry about the upcoming 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, at the site of a Czarist imperial massacre of the Turkic-speaking Muslim minority in 1862, would elicit an outcry (see below for details), but Gibraltar, Hong Kong, Western Sahara, and Syria, which were on my list, have not, as far as I know, been the focus of any fusses raised (there’s still time).  Some of my predicted disruptions—such as over organizers’ mis-listing of South Ossetia, Abkhazia, and other territories as part of “Russia,” and Argentina’s President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner’s boycott of the Games over the Falkland Islands—were already underway and discussed in the article and in last week’s “The Week in Separatist News” and so don’t count as augury.  But egg is on my face for not having foreseen that Scotland—safely on its way to independence in the eyes of many Scottish nationalists—would be the focus of controversy, nor that Wales would be part of the hullabaloo as well.

Here are the details on that, followed by updates on Cypriot, Circassian, and Australian Aboriginal protests:

Scots, Welsh Footballers’ Silence during “God Save the Queen” Challenged.  On July 26th, before the London Olympics had formally begun, two members of the British women’s football (soccer) team refused to sing along with “God Save the Queen” before their first match, against New Zealand, on the grounds they were Scottish.  One of the abstainers was Kim Little of the Arsenal Ladies, who was born in Aberdeen, but the other was Ifeoma Dieke, who was born in Massachusetts, in the United States, to immigrants from Nigeria, and plays for the Vittsjö football team in Sweden, though she has lived in Scotland since the age of three.  (Tragically, Dieke had to end her participation in these Olympics after being taken off the field in a stretcher two days later in a match against Cameroon after damaging a knee ligament.) 

Ifeoma Dieke—American-born, Nigerian by blood, Scottish to the bone.

The same day, three Welsh members of the Team Great Britain (Olympics-ese for “United Kingdom”) football team also refused to sing the anthem before their opening match against Senegal.  Their silence was repeated in a July 29th game against the United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.), prompting an outcry that led one of the Welsh footballers, Ryan Giggs, a player for Manchester United who is also the Olympic football team’s captain, to reassure the public that there was no disunity on the team.  Giggs said, “It’s difficult but it’s not an issue for us.  It might be for other people, but, once the game starts, we’re all pulling in the main direction, and I think that’s the main thing.”  (The other Welsh players who kept mum during the anthem are Joe Allen and Craig Bellamy.)  But he expressed worries about an upcoming August 1st match against Uruguay, to be held in Giggs’s own native Cardiff: “The national anthem may not be so warmly received in the Welsh capital.  I hope it won’t get booed and I hope the fans will get behind us.”

Ryan Griggs, not singing the national anthem

Perhaps, in future, Scottish players can be reassured that there won’t be time to get around to the fifth verse of “God Save the Queen,” which goes:

     Lord, grant that Marshal Wade
     May by thy mighty aid,
     Victory bring!
     May he sedition hush,
     And like a torrent rush,
     Rebellious Scots to crush,
     God save the Queen!

(Lordy, that’s almost as embarrasing as the Kentucky state song, which until the wording was changed in 1986, included as its very second line, “’Tis summer, the darkies are gay.”)

The 1725 Malt Tax Riots in Glasgow, suppressed—as the U.K. national anthem celebrates—
by Field Marshal George Wade, Commander in Chief of His Majesty’s Forces, North Britain.
The English didn’t realize that there’s only one kind of tax you can’t impose on the Scots without expecting trouble.

Australian Boxer Warned after Wearing Aboriginal Flag in Arena.  An Olympic boxer from Australia who has Aboriginal ancestry was given a warning by his team’s officials about rules on wearing the team uniform at all times after he appeared July 30th in an arena at the London Olympics wearing a t-shirt showing the Australian Aboriginal flag.  Nonetheless, the boxer, Damien Hooper, who is from Toowoomba, Queensland, went on to beat Marcus Browne of the United States in a light-heavyweight match.  An official warned he could still face disciplinary action, but Hooper said, “I’m not saying that I don’t care, I’m just saying I’m very proud of what I did.”  However, Hooper later avoided censure by apologizing to his team and saying it would not be repeated.

Oh, shit, I put on the wrong shirt.  Now I’m in trouble.

In the Summer Olympics in Sydney, New South Wales, in 2000, the Australian sprinter Cathy Freeman, who is also Aboriginal and from Queensland, waved both Australian and Aboriginal flags during a victory lap and did not face any disciplinary action.  In fact, four years later Freeman carried the Olympic flag at the head of all of the Oceania teams at the opening ceremonies in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Cathy Freeman got away with it in Sydney, though.

Circassians Invoke Genocide in Angry Anti-Russian Rally at London Olympics.  Protesters on July 29th filled an exhibition area in London’s Olympic Park designated to promote the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, in southwestern Russia near the North Caucasus region.  The protests were led by a group called NoSochi, which objects to the timing and placement of the 2014 games, which will be on the 150th anniversary of, and at the same location as, a czarist Russian campaign of massacres against the Circassian people.  “Sochi is a land of genocide,” shouted a protester.  “You can take your games and get lost.”  In addition to papering over crimes against humanity perpetrated against the Circassian people, the Sochi exhibition area also commits a crime against proper punctuation by being called, officially, Sochi.Park (sic), as well as crimes against children by enlisting terrifying kabuki mascots to intimidate young visitors.

It’s only 1 p.m., and already the Russian Winter Olympics mascot needs help walking.
Well, when you come from a country with eleven time zones, it’s almost always five o’clock somewhere, right?

Another group protesting these Olympics is Embargoed, an ad hoc group calling attention to the ban on athletes from the Republic of Turkey’s unrecognized puppet state on the northern third of Cyprus, the Cyprus Turkish Republic—known, until its renaming this year (as reported in this blog), as the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus or, still, colloquially, as Northern Cyprus.  Embargoed has been holding a long-term sit-in outside the hotel where many International Olympic Committee (I.O.C.) officials are staying.  Coordinated with the British Turkish Cypriot Association, the 12 Embargoed protesters’ actions include wearing handcuffs and balls-and-chains to symbolize their plight.  The athletes in question are Ziya Gokbilen and Pinar Akarpinar, both of them world taekwondo champions who are barred from competing because the I.O.C. will not deal with their pseudostate.

The I.O.C. has not extended to Gokbilen and Akarpinar the option of participating as “independents,” under an Olympic flag, which other athletes in similar predicaments have been offered.  Examples include athletes from:

• the war-torn dissolving Yugoslavia in the 1992 Barcelona games and

• the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste (a.k.a. East Timor) in the 2000 Sydney games during their country’s transition to independence from Indonesia; as well as, this year, athletes from:

• the Republic of Kosovo (de facto independent but not in the United Nations General Assembly) (though the one Kosovar athlete this year, Majlinda Kelmendi, accepted Albanian citizenship so she wouldn’t have to compete under the same neutral banner as the hated Serbs in 1992) (her case was discussed earlier in this blog),

• the Republic of South Sudan (a fledgling nation and U.N. member-state which nonetheless is too wracked by poverty and war to have its own Olympic committee),

• the Netherlands Antilles (a Caribbean quasi-colony and quasi-nationality in transition since its dissolution 2010, at which time three islands became dependent, non-autonomous municipalities within the Kingdom of the Netherlands while Curaçao and Sint Maarten became constituent “countries” of the kingdom; Aruba separated in 1986 and has its own Olympic team, but not this time around), and 

• Kuwait (whose national Olympic committee had been suspended over corruption concerns, but whose athletes’ participation under their own flag was allowed under a last-minute agreement on July 14th).

Athletes from the Netherlands Antilles, using the Olympic flag
while they are in the midst of sorting out the precise degree of Dutchness of each particular island.
That could take a while.

Watch this space.  I will be keeping you posted on further Olympic ethnonationalist kerfuffles.

[Also, for those who are wondering, yes, this blog is tied in with a forthcoming book, a sort of encyclopedic atlas to be published by Auslander and Fox under the title Let’s Split! A Complete Guide to Separatist Movements, Independence Struggles, Breakaway Republics, Rebel Provinces, Pseudostates, Puppet States, Tribal Fiefdoms, Micronations, and Do-It-Yourself Countries, from Chiapas to Chechnya and Tibet to Texas.  Look for it in spring 2013.  I will be keeping readers posted of further publication news.]

No comments:

Post a Comment

Subscribe Now: Feed Icon