As the 28th Olympics near conclusion in Athens, Greece, the International Campaign for Tibet recognizes that a countdown to Beijing is beginning and calls on the Chinese government to reverse repressive policies toward Tibetans and show that it intends to be a responsible host for the 2008 Olympics.

“Lack of progress on the situation in Tibet is a clear indication that the Chinese government has so far failed to address serious human rights issues, contrary to what the IOC predicted when it granted the 2008 Olympic Games to Beijing in July 2001,” said John Ackerly, ICT President.

ICT supports peaceful actions planned by the International Tibet Support Network, Human Rights in China, Olympic Watch and other prominent political and human rights activists to call attention to China’s intransigence on key concerns as the Olympic flag is handed to Chinese representatives on August 29, 2004, in preparation for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.

The Olympic 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.” ICT and other human rights organizations continue to find evidence of serious human rights violations in Tibet, repressive political campaigns, institutional racism, and long-term policies that marginalize Tibetans economically, threaten the survival of the Tibetan Buddhist identity, and cause tension and ill-will between the Chinese and Tibetans peoples.

“The failure of Beijing to act now to mitigate international human rights concerns could create a politicized atmosphere in which the Beijing Olympics compete for international attention with campaigns for human rights in China and Tibet,” Ackerly concluded.

ICT calls on the Chinese government to take the following actions prior to the 2008 games:

  • Release all political prisoners, including Tenzin Delek Rinpoche, a Buddhist leader and social activist who is under a death sentence;
  • Lift controls on freedom of belief and religious freedom, including Communist Party interference in the running of monasteries and the selection of Tibetan lamas, such as Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, the 11th Panchen Lama of Tibet;
  • Enact measures to halt migration of non-Tibetans into Tibetan areas, including providing Tibetans a determining decision on in-migration policy;
  • Begin substantive negotiations with the Dalai Lama or his representatives with the aim of achieving a negotiated solution on the Tibetan issue.

ICT also calls on the IOC to monitor human rights violations in China and Tibet by keeping an open channel of communication with international human rights organizations and, in the same way, calls on Olympic sponsors and partners to sensitize themselves to Chinese propaganda that legitimizes repressive policies in Tibet. Tibetans are already reporting that Beijing is aggressively promoting the 2008 Olympics in intimidating ways and using the games to fuel Han nationalistic sentiment among Chinese in Tibet.