MEDIA RELEASE: 29 July 2015

Human rights activists reject IOC’s latest assurances on Beijing Olympics bid as “naïve, inexplicable and alarming”

IOC letter to campaigners expresses “confidence” in China’s promises on human rights

Human rights campaigners have reacted with outrage to a letter received from the
International Olympics Committee yesterday, which states that in the light of
“assurances” from Beijing’s bid committee for the 2022 Winter Olympics, the IOC is
“confident” China will meet its obligations regarding human rights and other issues.

Yesterday’s letter, sent in response to a joint letter from Chinese, Tibetan, Uyghur and Mongolian human rights defenders last week states:

“With regards to Beijing 2022, assurances were provided concerning the following matters: human rights, the right to demonstrate, media freedom to report on the Games with no restrictions on the Internet, labour rights, displacement and environmental protection.
… Taking these into consideration, as well as the open nature of the discussions with Beijing 2022 and government authorities as well as China’s experience from organising the 2008 Olympic Games and the 2014 Youth Olympic Games, the IOC is confident that the Government of China would take all necessary measures to ensure the Olympic Charter and Host City Contract would be respected should they be elected as the Host City for 2022.”

On behalf of the International Tibet Network, Alistair Currie of Free Tibet said:
“It is frankly alarming that the IOC seems willing to take at face value the assurances of China’s government when it deceived the world, particularly the IOC, in its bid for the 2008 Olympics. Promises from Beijing aren’t worth the paper they’re written on and we have no doubt that China will once again fail to keep promises of more freedom of press and any greater protection of human rights. The IOC seems to think it knows more about the human rights situation in China than the many human rights defenders who have recently contacted them. Is the IOC really willing to bet the reputation of the Games that seven years from now, Beijing won’t happily tear up every single thing it’s promised if it suits its political priorities?”

Rebiya Kadeer of the World Uyghur Congress said:

“The human rights situation in East Turkestan [Ch: Xinjiang] has deteriorated to an all-time-low, and continues to drop. The IOC’s position is naïve and inexplicable. We hope that IOC members who actually vote this Friday will be more clear-sighted than the officials in Lausanne and reject the bid.”

Yang Jianli of Initiatives for China said:

“In 2008 we were given the same message back from the IOC; the Olympics could end China’s human rights abuses. However, China’s human rights situation did not improve and it is now much worse. This week a torrent of human rights defenders from China, and territories it controls, have sent the same message to the IOC: don’t give the Games to Beijing. The IOC must open their eyes and consider the truth that lies in front of them.”

Enghebatu Togochog of the Southern Mongolian Human Rights Information Center said:
“Taking China’s government at its word is a fundamental mistake. It’s deeply concerning that this is the position of an organisation with the status and reputation of the International Olympic Committee. We call on IOC members to think for themselves and reject Beijing’s bid.”

Golog Jigme, the former Tibetan political prisoner who co-signed the joint letter to the IOC, has also sent a personal appeal to IOC members. The Tibetan monk was jailed for making a documentary film in 2008 about Tibetans’ views on the Beijing Olympics. His letter to the IOC says:

“My own experience around the time of the Olympics, and after, included my brutal torture by Chinese authorities in numerous ways, including being chained to the chimney of a burning stove, chained to an iron chair and being beaten and shocked with electric batons.  I continue to suffer physically from these abusive experiences.

I wholeheartedly appeal to you not to give the prestige of another Olympic Games to China. The situation in Tibet and in all areas governed by China is far worse than in 2008.”

The International Tibet Network sent the IOC a dossier detailing China’s failure to uphold human rights before the 2008 Summer Olympics this March. Within the last two days, calls for the IOC not to accept Beijing’s bid have also come from NGOs Chinese Human Rights Defenders and Human Rights in China [1].



London, UK (GMT + 1hr):
Alistair Currie, Free Tibet
T: +44 (0)207 324 4605
M: +44 (0)780 165 4011 (outside UK office hours)

Dharamsala, India, (GMT + 5.30hrs):
Tenzin Jigdal, International Tibet Network
T: +988 225 5516

Notes for editors
[1] Chinese Human Rights Defenders, 28 July Abysmal Human Rights Conditions & Systematic Failure to Play by Rules Make China Unfit to Host 2022 Winter Games ; Human Rights in China 28 July HRIC Urges IOC to Postpone Host City Election for 2022 Olympics (HRIC calls for a postponement of the vote for the IOC to reconsider Beijing’s bid and for China’s government to provide evidence of improvements in human rights)