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Olympic Watch refuses EU arms sales to China

Prague, March 19, 2004 – Jan Ruml, Chairman of Olympic Watch and Vice-Speaker of the Czech Senate, is sending a letter to foreign ministers of all EU Member States today, urging them not to lift the embargo on arms sales to the People’s Republic of China at the next EU summit. Olympic Watch has also called on its supporters worldwide to join the campaign with their own letters.

The European Union imposed its arms trade ban on China in response to the Tiananmen massacre in 1989. Jan Ruml notes in his letter that those crimes against humanity were never properly investigated or punished; they had been evidently perpetrated by the very army that the EU would be supplying weapons to, should the embargo be lifted. Furthermore, the “People’s Liberation Army” is mounting its threats to Taiwan. For these and other reasons, writes Ruml, “lifting the embargo would be premature, harmful, and, moreover, morally wrong”.

The European Union is to discuss lifting the embargo at its next summit on March 25-27, 2004. According to Olympic Watch’s information, Austria, France, Germany, Italy and Spain support the termination of the embargo. EU leads a long-running Human Rights Dialogue with the People’s Republic of China. Olympic Watch believes, however, that the Beijing regime has not carried out necessary reforms. The PRC, for instance, refuses to ratify the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The recent session of the National People’s Congress only made rather cosmetic changes in the constitution, aimed at solidifying the power of the undemocratic regime.

Full text of the letter addressed to all Foreign Ministers of EU Member States:

Prague, 18 March 2004

Dear Ministers,

On behalf of Olympic Watch (Committee for the 2008 Olympic Games in a Free and Democratic Country), I respectfully urge EU Member States not to lift the arms trade ban that the EU imposed on the People’s Republic of China in response to the Tiananmen massacre in 1989.

The European Union rightly stresses human rights and international security as two of its key policy priorities. From these points of view, lifting the embargo would be premature, harmful, and, moreover, morally wrong.

We especially find the idea of lifting the ban cynical as:
- In recent days, people around the world have commemorated the 45th anniversary of the Tibetan people’s uprising against the occupation by the Chinese communist army that was brutally crushed by this army.
- As you read this plea, the People’s Republic of China is mounting its military threats against the democratic Republic of China on Taiwan.
- In just a few months, the world will commemorate the 15th anniversary of the Tiananmen crimes against humanity that were never properly investigated or prosecuted and were perpetrated by the very army that EU would supply weapons to.

Despite recent attempts to cosmetically change its image, the People’s Republic of China remains to be ruled by an undemocratic regime that is one of the grossest violators of human rights and one of the greatest threats to international security. The Beijing regime continues to delay its ratification of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights: not only does it, then, imprison, torture, and execute people at its will, but it also ridicules and destabilizes the international order.

Olympic Watch appreciates the Human Rights Dialogue that the EU leads with the PRC. We believe that only assertive and principled policy, such as maintaining the arms trade ban, will ultimately bring the profound reforms that remain necessary in China.


Jan Ruml,
Chairman, Olympic Watch
Vice-Speaker of the Senate, Parliament of the Czech Republic

More information on EU-China arms trade urgent campaign.

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