Olympic Watch: human rights in China and the Beijing 2008 Olympics OLYMPIC WATCHOLYMPIC WATCH


Olympic Watch statement one year before Beijing 2008 Olympics

When in 2001 the International Olympic Committee awarded the 2008 Olympic Games to Beijing, it did so as the Beijing bidding committee pledged that the hosting of the Games “will help the development of human rights” and most notably, “there will be no restrictions on media reporting and movement of journalists up to and including the Olympic Games”.

One year before the Olympics are to start, there has been no tangible improvement of human rights in China.

- Media freedom is nowhere in sight. Independent monitors, such as Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), register at least 30 Chinese journalists and 50 bloggers and internet activists in jail. Chinese domestic media face a policy of systematic censorship and the reporting of international media into China is blocked.
- China continues to execute several times more people than the rest of the world combined. According to Amnesty International estimates, this is 8,000-10,000 people each year.
- Torture continues to be widespread, according to the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture.
- As Human Rights Watch recently reported again, human rights violations are taking place in direct relation to the Olympic Games themselves: hundreds of thousands of Beijing residents have been evicted without proper compensation. A leader of their peaceful protests, Ye Guozhu, has been imprisoned for four years and reportedly tortured.

Considering the lack of progress on human rights in China, Olympic Watch calls on:

- The International Olympic Committee to:
- Support by facts its claims that the Olympics are to help the development of human rights in China. According to all available information, the current situation does not match these claims at all.
- At least in the final year before the Olympics, work with international human rights organizations regarding the purely non-political demands to protect internationally guaranteed human rights and the Olympic ideal of “human dignity”.
- Demand from the Beijing Organizing Committee (BOCOG) and the PRC government as BOCOG’s parent entity the release of Ye Guozhu and of all journalists and others who merely exercised freedom of expression.

- National Olympic committees to:
- Work with human rights organizations and allow athletes to learn about the facts regarding the violations of human rights of Chinese citizens and to freely express themselves on the situation.
- Express their concern about the absence of human rights improvements to the International Olympic Committee and to BOCOG.

- Corporate sponsors of the IOC and of Beijing 2008 to:
- Work with human rights organizations regarding the situation in China.
- Express their concern about the absence of human rights improvements to the International Olympic Committee and to BOCOG.
- Consider whether they want their name associated with the Beijing 2008 Olympics as the pledges of the organizers regarding human rights improvements, against which they concluded their sponsorship, have not been fulfilled.

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