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


Release “Olympic prisoners” and free Chinese media, Olympic Watch requests

Prague, February 7, 2008 – With six months to go until the Beijing 2008 Olympics, Olympic Watch is calling for an end to human rights abuses in China. Specifically calling for the release of “Olympic prisoners” Hu Jia, Yang Chunlin and Ye Guozhu, it also reminds the International Olympic Committee that full media freedom must be guaranteed in China as promised in 2001. In press freedom, the IOC must not discriminate between foreign and Chinese media, because that would contradict the Olympic ideal of non-discrimination, Olympic Watch says.

“The silence of the IOC is striking,” said Olympic Watch chairman Jan Ruml. “Human rights abuses are clearly continuing if not worsening in China, even directly related to the Games. The international Olympic movement must act now.”

The full text of the statement follows below.

As Beijing starts the 6-month countdown to the 2008 Olympic Games and people welcome the Chinese New Year with new hopes, the world is reminded of the continuing human rights violations related to the Olympics. The persecution of Chinese citizens who exercise their freedom of expression must end for the world to celebrate the Olympic ideals of “human dignity” and “universal ethical principles”.

1. “Full media freedom” must be implemented for Chinese and for foreign journalists as promised in 2001. While the Chinese government did formally relax limitations for foreign journalists, in the spirit of the Olympic ideal of non-discrimination, Chinese journalists must be as free to collect information and report it as their international colleagues. This must translate not only into law but also into practice for foreign and Chinese media. Full media freedom must be guaranteed on the whole territory of the People’s Republic of China, including Tibet and East Turkestan (Xinjiang), where many of the worst human right violations take place.

2. Olympic prisoners Hu Jia, Yang Chunlin and Ye Guozhu must be released. Ye Guozhu was jailed for lawfully organizing a rally of people evicted for Olympics-related redevelopment of Beijing. Yang Chunlin is imprisoned for drafting a petition that compared the importance of human rights with the Olympics. Most recently, Hu Jia was arrested after he publicly pointed out the connection between Olympic organizers and human rights violators from the Chinese security forces. All these were peaceful expressions protected by internationally recognized human rights standards.

The International Olympic Committee and Olympic sponsors must hold the Beijing Organizing Committee accountable for keeping its promises on human rights improvements. Failure to end censorship of the Chinese media and to free Chinese Olympic prisoners would seriously damage the trust people around the world have in the Olympic movement.

Prague, February 7, 2008

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