Thursday, April 10, 2008

Olympic Watch disagrees with IOC comments

The full text of the statement follows below:

Press Release: Olympic Watch welcomes the comments made by IOC president Jacques Rogge at the press conference in Beijing today. We believe they are an important step in the right direction.

On media freedom, it is indeed necessary that international media be allowed to operate freely throughout the territory of the People’s Republic of China, including Tibet and Xinjiang (called East Turkestan by Uyghurs). An international fact-finding mission should also be allowed in the regions to allow for verification of crackdowns on Tibetans and Uyghurs.

In line with the Olympic principle of non-discrimination and the Chinese officials’ pledges of full media freedom, the IOC also needs to speak out on behalf of imprisoned Chinese journalists and against the combination of censorship and propaganda that the Chinese government employs. Domestic media were able to operate free of censorship in Los
Angeles 1984, Seoul 1988, Barcelona 1992, Atlanta 1996, Sydney 2000 as well as Athens 2004. If conditions are indeed to be identical for the media in Beijing as promised, Chinese domestic media must be free by the time of the Games as well.

Mr. Rogge also made commendable comments regarding the athletes’ freedom of expression. It is also necessary to specify that expressing support for human rights in a peaceful way at the Olympic venues cannot be in any way misconstrued as “political, religious or racial propaganda” and thus does not contradict the Olympic Charter. Human rights is not politics, it is a universal concept endorsed by the Olympic Charter.

Olympic Watch will be soon releasing its specific recommendations to this effect that will promote respect for human rights and the Chinese people.

We hope the IOC continues to show its capacity to promote the Olympic ideal of human dignity and human rights. An open, honest and peaceful dialogue between the Chinese, Tibetan and Uyghur people and an improvement of the human rights situation in China, Burma and Sudan can indeed be the greatest legacy of this year’s Olympic Games.

Prague, April 10, 2008

Contact: Petr Kutilek, campaign director, +1 347 575 5667 (currently in
New York) or +420 608 560 503,

Petr Kutílek
Campaign Director
Olympic Watch
+420 608 560 503
Sokolská 18, CZ-12000 Prah

OLYMPIC WATCH: Human Rights in China and Beijing 2008

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