International Olympic Committee awards Beijing 2008 Games: Tibetan Freedom Movement vows to intensify opposition

Friday, 13 July 2001

Tibetans and their supporters around the world have condemned the IOC's decision to give the 2008 Olympic Games to Beijing, and vowed to intensify their opposition over the next seven years.

"We are outraged that the IOC has chosen to overlook the systematic destruction of Tibetan culture and human rights abuses committed by the Chinese government," said Alison Reynolds, co chair of the International Tibet Support Network and Director of Free Tibet Campaign. "But our campaign is far from over. Not only will we hold the IOC accountable for this decision, but we will ensure that, through these Games, the situation in Chinese occupied Tibet comes under public scrutiny as never before."

Over the past six months Tibetans and Tibet supporters have sent over 250,000 postcards, letters, emails, faxes and petitions to IOC members, in opposition to Beijing's bid. Thousands of exiled Tibetans signed khatas, traditional Tibetan offering scarves, to counter Beijing's claim that Tibetans inside of Tibet supported the bid. Two students were arrested in Washington, D.C. late last month when they scaled the Chinese Embassy to hang a banner protesting China┬╣s Olympic bid and the occupation of Tibet. Two days before the decision in Moscow, 5 Tibetans and 1 Swiss supporter were arrested, along with 2 journalists, after attempting to stage a peaceful protest against China's bid. Two other campaigners were briefly detained the following day.

Speaking from Moscow, John Hocevar of Students for a Free Tibet said: "We are very concerned about the IOC's commitment to ensure the rights and safety of those who plan to attend the Games in Beijing. Given the IOC's lack of engagement with civil society, and failure to address human rights concerns during the lead up to the vote, we have serious doubts about its willingness to hold China accountable for human rights violations associated with the 2008 Games."

China's bid was successful, despite a series of events which undermined its government's claims that hosting the Olympics in 2008 would facilitate improvements in human rights and that foreign journalists would be allowed to freely cover the Games. A report released by Amnesty International on July 6th showed that China executed at least 1,781 people in the past three months - more than the rest of the world combined in the past three years. Recently an American reporter was badly beaten by Chinese police and another high incarnate child lama in occupied Tibet (8 year old Pawo Rinpoche) was placed under house arrest.

The International Tibet Support Network (ITSN) is made up of over 100 Tibet related non-governmental organizations from Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas. The ITSN campaigns on social justice, human rights and the environment through a democratic and participatory process of decision-making and activism.