Thursday, February 14, 2008

Free Speech the Loser at 2008 Beijing Olympics

Scoop NZ - Friday, 15 February 2008, 9:23 am

Press Release: CIPFG

Free Speech the Loser at 2008 Beijing Olympics

CIPFG-NZ calls for the New Zealand Olympic Committee to remove the clause from its contract with New Zealand Olympic team members that requires athletes to “not make statements or demonstrations (whether verbally in writing or by any act or omission) regarding political, religious or racial matters”.

In its current form, the contract forbids New Zealand athletes from making any political comment while in Beijing and denies them a fundamental human right guaranteed to them under our New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990 and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Freedom of speech should never be sacrificed in order to appease the Chinese Communist Party, a regime with an appalling human rights record. The Chinese Communist Party stated in 2001 that by being awarded the right to host the 2008 Olympics, it would help it improve its human rights record. To sacrifice a fundamental freedom is not the way to encourage the Chinese Communist Party to improve its human rights record, it merely emboldens them to continue with violating the human rights of their own citizens and the rights of others.

CIPFG NZ does not consider that this contractual clause is realistic or can be justified by appealing to the potentially adverse consequences of a New Zealand athlete exercising freedom of speech in Beijing. If a New Zealand athlete cannot exercise freedom of speech in Beijing then we should not be going there. It is not freedom of speech that should sacrifice itself to a communist regime. If the Chinese Communist Party wants to be part of the international community then it needs to accommodate itself to international human rights instruments. If it is unwilling to do that then the argument for a boycott is unassailable.

This country sent at least two generations overseas to fight in world wars to defend the right to freedom of speech and other rights and freedoms threatened by totalitarian regimes. We should not now be deprived of something that we were once prepared to die for.

Carole Curtis (Barrister and Solicitor)
Spokesperson for CIPFG-NZ


Other CIPFG members in New Zealand

Dr Cathy Casey (Auckland City Councillor)
Mr Barry Wilson (Barrister and Solicitor) President of Auckland Council for Civil Liberties
Mr Richard McLeod (Barrister and Solicitor)
Mr Heval Hylan (Barrister and Solicitor)
Mr Naing Ko Ko (Burmese Pro-democracy advocate)

Background of CIPFG

The Coalition to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong (CIPFG) was formed in April 2006 and consists of over 350 individuals and organizations from the international community; including government officials, lawyers, doctors, clergymen, and human rights defenders. CIPFG purpose is to investigate both the persecution of Falun Gong and allegations of the harvesting of organs from live Falun Gong practitioners in China. It is calling for an end to the persecution of Falun Gong; practitioners and their supporters in China, and also calling for an independent third party investigation into allegations of organ harvesting in China.

OLYMPIC WATCH: Human Rights in China and Beijing 2008

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