Feb 08, 2006

Tibet: Peaceful Protests Planned During Olympics

Building a peaceful and better world through sport and the Olympic ideal is this years IOC slogan. However, there are no signs that any serious discussions will take place to address the political issues surrounding the 2008 Games in Beijing
Statement by the International Tibet Support Network (ITSN) on the occasion of the start of the XXth Winter Olympic Games and the 118th IOC Session in Turin


International Olympic Committee (IOC) delegates will meet in Turin for the 118th IOC Session from the 8th to the 10th February.

There are no signs that any serious discussions will take place at this meeting to address the political issues surrounding the 2008 summer Games in Beijing, China.

The International Tibet movement declares its support for planned peaceful protests, hunger strike and awareness raising activities during the Olympics in Turin and hopes that the IOC will change its policy of indifference towards human rights issues and the situation in occupied Tibet.

Building a peaceful and better world through sport and the Olympic ideal is this year’s IOC slogan for the Olympic truce project in Turin. Athletes will be asked to sign a corresponding declaration. Tibet campaigners claim this will only serve to cover up the IOC’s failure to address the real issues: since its 2001 decision to award the 2008 Games to Beijing, the IOC has
continued to pay only lip service to human rights concerns.

The IOC has refused to withdraw its controversial proviso to all host Cities to prevent political demonstrations or meetings from taking place in the immediate run-up to the Games. Moreover, the IOC has in the past spurned the offer by Tibet groups to collaborate on establishing benchmarks for progress on human rights in the same way it has stipulated environmental criteria
for the Games. Tibet support groups have produced annual reports since 2001 documenting the human rights situation in Tibet and China and the need for the IOC to take concrete and positive action.

The last report by Tibet groups was delivered to the IOC's Executive Committee on 5th August 2004 in Athens in advance of the IOC's 116th Session.
However, the IOC refused on that occasion to distribute the report to its members, thereby demonstrating once more its complete indifference towards human rights and the situation in occupied Tibet.

Turin is the last point at which the Olympic flame stops before it is passed to China for the 2008 Summer Games. China is already celebrating the imminent arrival of the 2008 Olympic Games in their country, while repression in Tibet and throughout China is intensifying. Human rights abuses by the Chinese government are taking place without any serious protest or intervention by the international community. At the end of 2005, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture reported that torture in China and Tibet remained widespread, and described a palpable level of fear among those prisoners he interviewed.

The awarding of the 2008 Games to Beijing confers on the Olympic movement,
and the IOC in particular, a moral responsibility to promote respect for human rights in China and to voice its concerns about the situation in occupied Tibet.

We call upon the athletes and the international community to use the opportunity of the 2008 Games in Beijing to voice their solidarity with the Tibetan people and support for the fundamental values of freedom and justice shared by the founders of the Olympic movement and people around the world.
We urge the IOC to guarantee freedom of expression during the Beijing 2008 Games and to revise its policy of ignoring the human rights situation in China and the situation in occupied Tibet.
We call on the Chinese government to respect the rights of the Tibetan People and to start a substantial dialogue with the Tibetan government in Exile and the Dalai Lama to resolve the Tibetan issue.
We urge all governments to pressure the Chinese authorities to immediately release all political prisoners in Tibet and China.

For more information on the ITSN Olympic Campaign, please see
www.2008-FreeTibet.org .


The International Tibet Support Network (ITSN) is an alliance of 138 NGOs worldwide dedicated to ending human rights violations in Tibet and actively supporting the Tibetan people's right under international law to determine their future political, economic, social, religious and cultural status.