“Last Olympics didn’t reduce human rights violations in China, it increased them” – Human rights groups’ letter warns don’t award China another Olympics

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A joint letter was sent today to the International Olympics Committee calling on them to reject China’s bid for the 2022 Olympic Winter Games, citing past claims that the 2008 Games would reduce China’s human rights violations contrasted with evidence that the 2008 Games actually increased human rights abuses in the Asian nation.

The letter, which was submitted one week before the Olympic committee makes its decision, was signed by the president of the World Uyghur Congress, the director of the Southern Mongolian Human Rights Information Center, the president of Initiatives for China and a former Tibetan political prisoner, jailed and tortured for actions related to the Beijing Olympic Games in 2008.

The letter states, “All of the people we represent have suffered as a result of the Chinese government’s contempt for human rights. We hope that you are aware by now that the 2008 Beijing Games did nothing to alleviate human rights abuses in China or enhance freedom.”

It notes that human rights in China are worse in 2015 than in 2001 when the 2008 Games were awarded to China, and cites several specific examples of abuses, including the mass jailing of human rights lawyers, the outlawing of some religious activities in China’s largely Muslim East Turkestan, forcing nomadic Mongols from their grazing lands, and ongoing ruthlessness in dealing with Tibetans.

Read more: Under Xi Jinping, repression in China has increased – Freedom House Report

The letter warns the Olympic committee not to make the same mistake it made last time, when the IOC expected awarding Beijing the Games would improve human rights in China.

“The reality is that the 2008 Beijing Olympics left a trail of human rights abuses directly linked to the Games,” the letter asserts, citing Human Rights Watch’s 2008 report on the Beijing Games, which documents some of the abuses.

The letter also references the Olympic spirit, which, as other human rights groups representatives have pointed out, expressly requires safeguarding the dignity of the individual as a requirement of Olympism, and questions how allowing the Games to become a part of human rights violations will reflect on the Olympics.

Read more: China can’t host Olympics, fails Olympic Charter, rights groups say

“Until the leaders of the Chinese Communist Party are prepared to reform and recognize the inherent rights of all people, they should not be awarded the honour of another Olympics,” the letter states. “The IOC must recognise that the Olympic spirit and the reputation of the Olympic Games will suffer further damage if the worsening human rights crisis in China is simply ignored.”

The conclusion of the letter is a warning: “[T]he Games returning to Beijing will be a green light for the government’s ongoing abuse of their rights and denial of their hopes for freedom.”

China can’t host Olympics, fails Olympic Charter, rights groups say

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With one week to go before the International Olympic Committee makes its decision, Human rights groups are raising their voices in protest over the possibility of China being awarded another Olympic Games. One hundred seventy-five such groups have joined in submitting a letter to the committee saying the IOC should refuse China’s bid on the grounds of China’s human and civil rights record.

“In order for China to be considered a worthy host of the Olympics, its Charter and Code of Ethics require that certain basic standards are honored,” Matteo Mecacci, President of the International Campaign for Tibet, told The Speaker.

“Specifically, the Olympic Code of Ethics says, ‘Safeguarding the dignity of the individual is a fundamental requirement of Olympism’ while the Charter aims to put ‘sport at the service of the harmonious development of man, with a view to encouraging the establishment of a peaceful society concerned with the preservation of human dignity.'”

Matteo Mecacci, President of ICT
Matteo Mecacci, President of ICT

“To evaluate the issue of the next winter Olympic games in China we have to take a broader look at the developments in China,” Mecacci told us.

Meccaci, who has presided over the ICT since 2013, elaborated on the types of offences dealt with every day by the organization.

“ICT is very concerned about the serious human rights violations that continue to take place in Tibet through repressive political campaigns, institutional racism, and long-term policies that marginalize Tibetans economically, threaten the survival of the Tibetan identity, and cause tension and ill-will between the Chinese and Tibetans peoples. We are also concerned about the increasing repression of human rights advocates all over the country since Xi Jinping rose to power.”

Read more: Under Xi Jinping, repression in China has increased – Freedom House Report

Mecacci also commented on the recent mass jailing of Chinese lawyers and the death of one of China’s most notable Tibetan prisoners.

“The last 2 weeks have seen a wide-ranging attack on civil society by Chinese authorities, including the detention of more than 70 lawyers, and the death of a revered Tibetan lama, the highest profile Tibetan political prisoner whose case was raised by governments worldwide.

Read more: With days to go, human rights groups question whether China should be awarded another Olympic Games

“There is an urgent need for the international community to push back against China’s hardline policies and violations of human rights and to send a signal of support to Chinese civil society and the Tibetan and Uyghur people.”

Mecacci expressed sentiments similar to other Tibetan rights groups that if the IOC chooses China as host again, they would in effect be condoning China’s continued human rights abuses.

“They would be supporting a government that continues to jail and intimidate responsible and moderate individuals who are trying to create a better and fairer society,” stated Mecacci.

“The Chinese people deserve to be part of international sport events, including hosting them, but it is up to the Chinese leadership to show — and to make a credible and verifiable commitment — to the International Olympics Committee and the international community that it is deserving of yet another Olympics. Sadly, the Chinese Government so far has failed to make this commitment and show concrete results. Without this, awarding China with another Olympics will not be a wise decision.”