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

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Olympic Watch responds to Beijing organizer claims

Prague, August 14, 2008 - Olympic Watch chairman Jan Ruml responded to claims made by Wang Wei, vice-president of the Beijing Organizing Committee, at a press conference in Beijing today. “For Wang Wei to claim that the Beijing Olympics has led to greater respect for human rights is an outrageously absurd statement,” said Jan Ruml, chairman of Olympic Watch. Read more >>>


Adopt China’s prisoners of conscience - Olympic Watch to athletes and leaders

Prague - August 1, 2008 - One week before the start of the Beijing Olympics, Olympic athletes, officials and public leaders from participating countries are being asked to adopt Chinese human rights defenders persecuted by the Chinese government. As a follow-up to yesterday’s appeal signed by Czech ex-president Vaclav Havel, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Desmond Tutu and Chinese exile activist Wei Jingsheng, Olympic Watch has launched its Adopt2008.org campaign. Read more >>>


Václav Havel, Desmond Tutu, MEPs call for human rights at Beijing Olympics

Prague, 31 July 2008 – A group of international intellectual, spiritual and political leaders has published a public appeal today, calling on the International Olympic Committee to allow full access to information at Beijing Olympics and on Olympic athletes to express themselves in support of people whose rights are being violated by the Chinese government. The signatories, including writer and former Czech president Václav Havel, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Chinese dissident Wei Jingsheng, European Parliament Vice-President Edward McMillan-Scott, and philosopher André Glucksmann, reject the notion that peaceful promotion of human rights would constitute political propaganda prohibited by the Olympic Charter. Read more >>>


Olympic Watch reacts to continued censorship in Beijing

Prague, July 30, 2008 - Olympic Watch, the human rights organization set up in 2001 to help keep the Chinese government accountable for its Olympics-related human rights promises, has issued a statement harshly criticizing the continued censorship of internet access for journalists and athletes in Beijing. Calling the International Olympic Committee’s “silent diplomacy” strategy “demonstrably ineffective”, Olympic Watch urges the IOC to “publicly call for an end to censorship in China, and for the release of all those Chinese citizens who have been persecuted in relation with the Olympics”. Read more >>>


One month before Beijing Olympics, Olympic Watch writes Chinese president

Prague, July 8, 2008 – Olympic Watch chairman Jan Ruml today sent a letter to President Hu Jintao of the People’s Republic of China, calling on him to fulfill the promises regarding human rights in China that Chinese officials made when bidding for the organization of the Olympics in Beijing, and to release Hu Jia, Yang Chunlin and Ye Guozhu - three activists jailed in connection with the Olympics. Read more >>>


Olympic Watch condemns Hu Jia’s jailing as IOC heads to Beijing

Prague, April 3, 2008 - Olympic Watch has condemned the conviction of the Chinese dissident Hu Jia, who was jailed for three and half years for “inciting subversion of state power and the socialist system”. “The Chinese government is ignoring its commitments of human rights improvements and testing how far it can go just as IOC executives head to Beijing,” said Olympic Watch chairman Jan Ruml. Read more >>>


Seven rights groups urge IOC’s Rogge to speak out at last on human rights in China

Prague / Paris / Frankfurt / Brussels / Washington, March 19, 2008 – An international coalition of seven human rights NGOs has sent a strongly-worded open letter to IOC president Jacques Rogge to “speak out now” on behalf of human rights and Olympic ideals and to guarantee athletes’ right to freedom of expression in Beijing. Saying that only “an active, responsible approach by the IOC in defence of human rights can prevent further possible calls for boycott”, the letter comes in the wake of the Chinese crackdown in Tibet. Read more >>>


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. Read more >>>


Chinese human rights activists write IOC

Brussels, May 19, 2007 – A coalition of international organizations working for human rights improvements in China, including several associations of the Chinese democratic exile, has sent an open letter to Jacques Rogge, president of the IOC. The letter calls on Rogge to hold the Beijing Organizing Committee accountable for the lack of human rights progress in China. Considering the promises made by Beijing during its candidacy for the 2008 Olympics, the letter reminds the IOC of the necessity to ensure freedom of the press and of the human rights violations carried out in relation to the Games. The letter also calls on the IOC to stop the political abuse of the Olympic ideals by the propaganda machine of the Chinese Communist Party. Read more >>>


Two years until Beijing 2008: IOC fails, activists call on athletes, sponsors to act

Prague / Paris / Frankfurt / Washington, August 7, 2006 - Two years before the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games are to begin, an international coalition of human rights organizations has issued a joint statement, saying the International Olympic Committee has failed to protect Olympic ideals and calling on national Olympic committees, athletes and sponsors to take action. Citing continuing human rights violations and political propaganda abuse of the Games by the Chinese authoritarian government, they say boycott is one of possible options of protest. Read more >>>


After Torino, focus on Beijing’s human rights record

Prague / Paris / Frankfurt / Washington, February 28, 2006 – An international coalition of human rights organizations, including two groups headed by prominent Chinese exiles, has written a letter to the president of the International Olympic Committee, asking him to “focus on the continuing human rights abuses” in China before Beijing 2008 because they “threaten to damage the Olympic ideals forever.” The IOC, the groups suggest, may need to “reconsider holding the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.” Read more >>>


OW and AI: Czech Republic must not remain silent on human rights abuses in China

Prague, December 7, 2005 – A coalition of five NGOs has requested by letters to President Klaus and Prime Minister Paroubek that they use their meetings with Chinese premier Wen to discuss human rights, which are seriously violated in China. The letter has been signed by leaders of Olympic Watch, Amnesty International Czech Republic, the Confederation of Political Prisoners of the Czech Republic, the People in Need Foundation, and the Lungta association. Read more >>>


June 3: Global Tiananmen Vigil

Prague / Hong Kong / Washington / New York, May 27, 2005 - On Friday, June 3, at 20:00 (8:00pm) in various time zones, people around the world will light candles in their windows to commemorate the sixteenth anniversary of the massacre in downtown Beijing. This is the ambition of the second annual Global Tiananmen Vigil, an international initiative launched jointly by several human rights groups. Read more >>>


Chinese human rights activists support EU embargo

More than five hundred Chinese human rights activists, both exiles and dissidents inside the PRC, have signed an open letter to the European Union, calling on it to maintain its embargo on arms exports to China until the PRC respects human rights. They note that Beijing needs to uphold international human rights standards and reevaluate the 1989 pro-democacy movement, for whose brutal suppression the embargo was imposed. Read more >>>


Will Europe sell its soul to Beijing?

Jan Ruml, the Chairman, and Petr Kutilek, the Executive Secretary of Olympic Watch, have published an article in Hospodarske Noviny (most respected Czech daily) today, arguing for Europe to maintain its embargo on arms exports to the PRC. They claim that the ongoing human rights violations in China, the lack of change in Beijing’s dealing with the Tiananmen massacre, and the growing military threats towards the democracy in Taiwan require a continued principled position of the EU. Read more >>>


Zhao Ziyang, a 1989 reformist, dies

Zhao Ziyang, the Premier of the PRC and Secretary General of the Communist Party of China in the 1980s, died in Beijing this morning. Zhao was a proponent of a democratic reform to socialism in China. He was last seen in public on May 19, 1989, when he attempted to prevent the impending massacre of pro-reform activists of the Tiananmen Square. He was subsequently stripped off all his positions and martial law was declared in the country. Zhao spent the last fifteen years of his life under house arrest. “Zhao Ziyang was a brave man and a great Chinese patriot. The way the government treated him in the last fifteen years of his life is shameful. May his passing away be a reminder to the whole world that the Beijing leadership continues to trample on the human rights and liberties of Chinese citizens, who wish for more democracy in China. Zhao will certainly continue to live in the memories and hopes of all good Chinese people,” noted Jan Ruml, Chairman of Olympic Watch, on his passing away. Read more >>>


Olympic Watch writes IOC, raises the case of Ye Guozhu

On Human Rights Day, Olympic Watch’s Chairman Jan Ruml wrote a letter to Jacques Rogge, President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), urging him to raise human rights issues with China at every possible occasion. The letter informs Mr. Rogge of the Minimum Standards for Beijing 2008 (which were enclosed as an attachment to the letter) as a joint position of several human rights organizations. Lastly, Mr. Ruml raises the case Ye Guozhu, an evictee activist, whose plight is typical of the kind of human rights abuse in China today, and urges Rogge to inquire about his case during his next meeting with the Beijing 2008 Olympics organizers. Read more >>>


Europe-wide call against lifting China arms embargo

Prague / Amsterdam / Brussels, December 3, 2004 – A broad coalition of pro-democracy and pro-Tibetan NGOs from around Europe has written an open letter to the European Union today, urging it not to lift the arms embargo on China. They point out that the original reason for the embargo, the Tiananmen massacre, continues to be justified by the Beijing government and activists from the pro-democracy movement remain in prison. “An end to the embargo cannot be justified without significant improvement of human rights in China,“ reads the letter signed by twenty-four organizations. They call on the Beijing government to revise their position on the Tiananmen events; release prisoners of conscience; state that it will not use weapons against the people of China, Tibet, and Taiwan; negotiate with the Dalai Lama; adopt international human rights standards; and introduce moratorium on executions. The letter comes five days ahead of the EU-China summit. Read more >>>


Liu Jingsheng released; call for respect for human rights

Prague, November 27, 2004 – Olympic Watch has welcomed the release of Liu Jingsheng, the Chinese dissident. It has also called on the government of the People’s Republic of China to free other prisoners of conscience and to respect the human rights of the Chinese people. Liu Jingsheng was released after twelve years in prison earlier today. Read more >>>


Human rights organizations unveil “Minimum Standards for Beijing 2008”

Prague / Frankfurt / Washington, August 29, 2004 – Three human rights organizations have published a set of “minimum standards” that Beijing should meet in order to be a good host for the next Olympic Games. They argue that the situation in China contradicts the ideals of the Olympic Charter. If there is no progress by 2006, Olympic Watch, the International Society for Human Rights (ISHR / IGFM) and the Laogai Research Foundation will “assist the international community in finding alternative solutions”. Specifically, this coalition requests that the PRC ratify the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which the Beijing government signed six years ago. Other standards cover no use of military power against peaceful democratic action, moratorium on the death penalty, democracy for Hong Kong, talks with the Tibetan government-in-exile and the abolition of slave labor camps where people are sent without a trial. Read more >>>


Chinese, Tibetan exile and Olympic Watch call for moment of silence during Athens closing ceremony

Athens / Prague / Washington, August 26, 2004 – Prominent Chinese pro-democracy groups and Olympic Watch have joined Tibetan rights supporters in calling for a peaceful protest during the closing ceremony of the Athens Olympics this Sunday, 29 August. Athletes and spectators are being asked to demonstrate their support for human rights in China and Tibet by remaining silent during China’s presentation and the handover of the Olympic Flag from Athens to Beijing. Olympic Watch, the International Tibet Support Network and the Laogai Research Foundation are among those endorsing the action. Read more >>>


Olympic Watch: Hong Kong must remain free

Prague, June 30, 2004 – Olympic Watch has issued a statement today, calling on the Beijing government “to respect the wishes of Hong Kong citizens and to uphold its commitments from the Sino-British Joint Declaration and the Hong Kong Basic Law”. The plea comes on the eve of the seventh anniversary of Hong Kong’s return under Chinese administration. Read more >>>


Statement on torture in China

On the International Day against Torture this June 26, Olympic Watch calls on the government of the People’s Republic of China to stop the abhorrent practices of torture and ill-treatment throughout the PRC. Read more >>>


Global Tiananmen Vigil: Thursday, June 3, 7:00pm

On Thursday, June 3, at 19:00 in various time zones, people around the world will light candles in their windows to commemorate the fifteenth anniversary of the massacre in downtown Beijing. This is the ambition of the Global Tiananmen Vigil, an international initiative launched today by Olympic Watch and its five partner organizations. Read more >>>


Choices in Beijing: On Vaclav Klaus trip to China

Petr Kutilek, Executive Secretary of Olympic Watch, has published an article in the Prague Post, arguing that Czech President Klaus has the obligation to thoroughly discuss Beijing’s human rights abuses during his trip to China. The piece, titled "Choices in Beijing", refuses the typical cultural relativism approach that Klaus and some other Western politicians adopt when dealing with China. The democratic determination of people in Hong Kong and Taiwan, as well as of dissidents in the PRC, shows that those Chinese who can or dare to speak their mind freely, understand very well the concepts of human rights and democracy. Read more >>>


Letter to Czech president Klaus before visit to China

Representatives of Olympic Watch and Amnesty International Czech Republic have handed over to the Office of the President a letter, written to Vaclav Klaus by four human rights organizations on the eve of his visit to the People’s Republic of China. In the letter, they appreciate that the Czech president has pledged to discuss the human rights situation in China during his trip, and add specific suggestions for negotiations. Read more >>>


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. Read more >>>


Olympic Watch denounces fresh human rights abuses in China

Prague, November 19, 2003 – Olympic Watch (Committee for the 2008 Olympic Games in a Free and Democratic Country) has issued a statement in which it denounces “the latest wave of prison sentences for Chinese human rights advocates”. Jan Ruml, Acting Chairman of the Olympic Watch Committee, is sending the document to the government of the People’s Republic of China today. Read more >>>


Full text of statement on sentences for freedom of speech activists

Olympic Watch (Committee for the 2008 Olympic Games in a Free and Democratic Country) condemns the latest wave of prison sentences for Chinese human rights advocates. Particularly, it is concerned about the sentences for He Depu and Zheng Enchong, two peaceful activists, who were sentenced to eight and three years in prison, respectively, in two recent separate trials. Read more >>>


IOC urged to act over plans for pre-Olympic crackdown in China

Two groups of Chinese dissidents have called on the IOC to review its decision to award the 2008 Olympics to Beijing after publishing what they described as evidence of plans for a crackdown in the run up to the Games. Read more >>>

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