Olympic ringsAmsterdam – News has emerged from Tibet of the confirmed arrest and imprisonment of three Buddhist nuns and two monks following calls for no Beijing Olympic Games until the Tibet issue is peacefully resolved. The news comes as the International Tibet Support Network announced that it will stage a series of protests, hunger strikes and awareness-raising activities during the Winter Olympics in Turin, the last stop for the Olympic flame before being passed to Beijing.

The Tibet research organization, Tibet Watch, obtained new information that the monks and nuns in the ethnically-Tibetan West of Gansu Province, Western China were arrested in May 2005 for involvement in the distribution and pasting of protest letters at a monastery and other public areas. The letters reportedly called for the independence of Tibet, for the Chinese authorities to enter into negotiations with the Dalai Lama, and that China should not host the 2008 Olympics until the Tibet question is peacefully resolved.

Two of the nuns, Tadrin Tsomo and Choekyi Drolma, and one of the monks, Dargye Gyatso, have been sentenced to three years imprisonment. The third nun, Yonten Drolma, and second monk, Jamyang Samdrub, have both been sentenced to one and a half years imprisonment.

‘The IOC’s Olympic Truce speaks of sport as a way to bridge the gap between peoples and to build peace. But by ignoring Beijing’s abuses, the IOC is not living up to the most basic principles of the Olympic movement. Tibetans cannot accept that the IOC is silently passing the Olympic flame to one of the world’s most repressive regimes when simply expressing your opinion is punished so harshly inside Tibet,’ said Ms Tsering Jampa, Executive Director of the International Campaign for Tibet in Europe.

Tibet groups in exile are calling on the IOC to take concrete action towards the Chinese leadership to seek commitments on human rights and freedom of expression from Beijing in advance of the 2008 Olympics. Tibet groups have produced annual reports since 2001 documenting the increasingly repressive human rights situation in Tibet and China, but the IOC has spurned the offer by Tibet groups to collaborate on establishing benchmarks for progress on human rights in the same way the IOC has stipulated environmental criteria for the Games.

The International Campaign for Tibet is calling on the IOC to uphold the spirit of the Olympic message by:

  • Ensuring that Beijing commits to freedom of expression during the 2008 Games.
  • Engaging in dialogue with China and expressing the need to ensure that China’s ongoing dialogue with the Tibetan government in exile and the Dalai Lama is meaningful.
  • Publicly expressing its concern about ongoing human rights abuses in Tibet and China.