Tibet campaigners warn of human rights risks as IOC visits Kazakhstan

Monday, 16 February 2015

Statements regarding International Olympic Committee’s visit to 2022 Winter Olympic Games candidate city, Almaty

Alistair Currie of Free Tibet, London, said:

“In 2008, worldwide attention on repression in Tibet and the international campaign by Tibet activists served notice to the International Olympic Committee that the Olympics can’t float above events in its host country. In 2014, Sochi confirmed it. The IOC introduced some welcome new measures to host city contracts last year but these aren’t going to stop the big controversies coming up again.

"The IOC’s apparently blind faith that the award of the Games would improve human rights in China was proved empty in 2008. Events in Tibet and China since have shown that the legacy of the Games hasn’t been increased sensitivity to human rights in Beijing but increased self-confidence that abusing human rights is no problem on the world stage. The IOC got it wrong. It had its fingers burned and it should show it is smart enough not to make the same mistake again by awarding the 2022 Games to Beijing. That’s a point we’ll be making very strongly to the IOC over the coming months.

"In the meantime, the IOC needs to turn over every rock in Almaty. Beijing has proved itself unworthy of the Games. Almaty needs to prove itself worthy – if it can.”

Tenzin Jigdal of the International Tibet Network, Dharmasala, India, said:

“The International Tibet Network will be submitting a dossier to the International Olympic Committee before it visits Beijing in March, detailing how it failed to achieve any improvement in human rights before 2008, and how repression has got even worse in Tibet since. The IOC side-lined Tibet last time – it needs to pay attention this time. The Beijing Olympics was the Tibet Olympics. If the IOC makes the same mistake again, it can be in no doubt that 2022 will be Tibet’s Olympics again.”

-ends-

Contact:

Alistair Currie, Free Tibet +44 207 324 4605, alistair@freetibet.org

Alison Reynolds, International Tibet Network +44 7711 843884, alison@tibetnetwork.org

Notes for editors

• IOC timetable:

14 - 18 February 2015: IOC visits Almaty
24 - 28 March 2015 IOC visits Beijing
May/June 2015: IOC release evaluation report
9 - 10 June 2015: Candidate city briefing to IOC members
31 July 2015: Winner announced in Kuala Lumpur

•The International Tibet Network’s submission to the IOC will be made public on Friday 20 March 2015

•Comments regarding human rights in China made by IOC members and officials:

"We are convinced that the Olympic Games will improve human rights in China." IOC president Jacques Rogge, BBC Hardtalk, April 2002

"The decision in 2001 to give the games to China was made in the hope of improvement in human rights and, indeed, the Chinese themselves said that having the games would accelerate progress in such matters." -- IOC member Dick Pound in his book Inside the Olympics (John Wiley & Sons, 2006)

"We are totally aware there is one issue on the table, and that is human rights. Either you say because of some serious human rights issues, we close the door, deliver a vote that is regarded as a sanction and hope things evolve better. The other way is to bet on openness. We are taking the bet that we will see many changes." IOC Director General François Carrard, IOC news conference, 13 July 2001.

•In March 2008, five months before the Beijing games, a mass uprising against Chinese rule took place in Tibet. China’s response was repression leading to the detention of around 3,000 Tibetans and at least 100 deaths. Since 2008, repression has continued in Tibet. See http://freetibet.org/about/human-rights-tibet

• The international campaign by Tibet activists in the run-up to the Beijing Games received international media coverage. For example: Sky News 7 August 2007 http://news.sky.com/story/532160/free-tibet-protest-on-chinas-great-wall; BBC 6 April 2008 http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7332942.stm; New York Times 7 April 2008 http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/07/world/europe/07torch.html?_r=0; The Guardian 25 March 2008 http://www.theguardian.com/world/2008/mar/25/tibet.olympicgames2008; Time 25 July 2008 http://content.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1826472,00.html

International Tibet Network is a global coalition of 180 Tibet Groups working to end the human rights violations in Tibet and restore the Tibetan people's right under international law to determine their own political, economic, social, religious, and cultural status - www.TibetNetwork.org

UK-based Free Tibet campaigns internationally for an end to China's occupation of Tibet and for international recognition of Tibetans' right to freedom. We mobilise active support for the Tibetan cause, champion human rights and challenge those whose actions help sustain the occupation. www.freeetibet.org