China, IOC try to shut out human rights concerns

Thursday, 12 July 2001

Tibetans continue opposition despite restrictions

Two human rights advocates were briefly detained by police in Moscow this afternoon for passing out leaflets listing questions for the IOC to consider regarding Beijing's controversial bid to host the 2008 Olympic Games. The activists, John Hocevar, Executive Director of Students for a Free Tibet and Anne Callaghan of Free Tibet Campaign (UK) were released without charge, and escorted to the nearest Metro Station. They were told that any attempts to pass out information opposing Beijing's Olympics bid would result in more arrests.

"A representative of the Olympic Committee told us that asking questions about the appropriateness of Beijing's bid was against the Olympic Charter," said Ms. Callaghan. "It seems to me that it is the behaviour of the IOC and the Chinese government that is not in keeping with the Olympic spirit."

Mr. Hocevar had hoped to get some answers from the IOC after months of refusal to address human rights concerns. "How will the IOC protect the rights and safety of people attending a Beijing Olympics?" he asked. "What would be the effect of China's lack of respect for freedom of speech or freedom of the press on a Beijing Olympics?"

The detentions came on the heels of news that all charges had been dropped pending a further review related to the arrest the day before of the six Tibet activists from Switzerland, India, and Moscow.

"All over the world, China interferes with local governments to try to silence the voice of Tibetans," said Karma Yeshi, Vice President of the Tibetan Youth Congress. "As long as China continues to occupy Tibet, we will never give up no matter how much they try to stop us."

Tibetans and supporters plan to join a demonstration organized by the Transnational Radical Party scheduled for 9:00 am across from the Moscow World Trade Centre tomorrow. The city of Moscow denied a permit for the demonstration, saying that the location was a fire hazard zone.