500 days away from the Beijing 2008 Olympics, China is still failing to comply with its Olympics commitments, particularly with regard to Tibet – even though the International Olympics Committee declared the Games would “improve the human rights situation in China”.

“In Tibet, human rights violations remain systematic and widespread, and there is a resurgence of hard-line policies aimed at Tibetan religious and cultural religious traditions. The IOC should hold the Chinese government accountable to commitments it made during its Olympics bid,” said. Mary Beth Markey, Vice President of the International Campaign for Tibet.

China’s Olympics report card (accessible here) assesses China’s progress on its key Olympics commitments. Key findings with respect to Tibet include:

  • China has committed to protecting minority nationality rights, but after five rounds of dialogue between the Dalai Lama’s envoys and Chinese officials, begun in September 2002, China has signaled no movement towards accepting the Dalai Lama’s position of seeking the implementation of autonomy for Tibetans, which is also specified within China’s constitutional framework;
  • China has committed to becoming a more open society, but continues its crackdowns on freedom of religion and expression in Tibet;
  • China has committed to allowing media freedom and to let foreign journalists “travel anywhere in China. There will be no restrictions.” (Olympics Press Chief, Sun Weija, September 2006). However, foreign journalists wishing to travel to Tibet and Xinjiang must obtain a special permit;
  • China has committed to a “People’s Olympics” and the protection of minority rights, but is failing to comply with its own autonomy laws and is using the Olympics to misrepresent the unique culture of Tibet as Chinese. It has chosen an endangered Tibetan animal, the chiru (antelope) as one of its Olympic mascots, and plans to hold the Olympic flame ceremony on the top of Mt. Everest (Tib.Chomolungma) near the Tibet-Nepal border;
  • China has committed to a “Green Olympics,” while it simultaneously exploits Tibetan natural resources for consumption and profit in China;
  • China has committed to transparent governance throughout the Olympics process, but there has been no public disclosure of the China-IOC Olympics contract nor a complete and open assessment to date.

The Olympic report card on Tibet, based in part on an assessment by Human Rights in China, shows that China is failing to meets its commitment to the IOC.

The International Campaign for Tibet (ICT) holds that China has a historic opportunity to show the world that it is a worthy host of the 2008 Olympics.

ICT calls on China to end human rights abuses in Tibet and negotiate a peace agreement with Tibet’s exiled leader, His Holiness the Dalai Lama. ICT also calls on governments, the IOC and the United Nations to monitor China’s compliance with its Olympic commitments and other related international human rights obligations.