The Tibetan Youth Congress on Monday called off the two-week long Tibetan hunger strike in Torino, Italy. Representatives of the IOC had requested them to discontinue the hunger strike, saying that the hunger strikers’ concerns are being given high attention by IOC and that the IOC will be “taking up the cases which the hunger strikers had sought to highlight”.
Meanwhile, a coalition of human rights organizations, including two groups headed by prominent Chinese exiles, has written a letter to the president of the International Olympic Committee, asking him to “focus on the continuing human rights abuses” in China before Beijing 2008 because they “threaten to damage the Olympic ideals forever.” The IOC, the groups suggest, may need to “reconsider holding the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.”
The letter, signed by the heads of Olympic Watch, Wei Jingsheng Foundation, Laogai Research Foundation, Reporters Without Borders (RSF), Solidarit? Chine and the International Society for Human Rights (ISHR/IGFM), lists the kinds of human rights violations that have been casting doubt on the selection of Beijing as the host city for the 2008 Olympic Games from the very beginning. These include the persecution of journalists and internet activists, lack of religious freedom, widespread torture and internationally unparalleled numbers of executions. Among the other issues of long-term concern are the fates of Tibet and Taiwan.
Further, the activists are pointing out human rights abuses directly linked to the organization of the 2008 Olympic Games: the evictions of Beijing residents and related persecution of protesters, and the abuse of Chinese children and youth in state training camps for political propaganda purposes. All these issues, the human rights groups argue, are contrary to the Olympic Charter’s ideals of “harmonious development of man”, “human dignity” and “peace”.