Olympic Watch: human rights in China and the Beijing 2008 Olympics OLYMPIC WATCHOLYMPIC WATCH


IOC urged to act over plans for pre-Olympic crackdown in China

Two groups of Chinese dissidents have called on the IOC to review its decision to award the 2008 Olympics to Beijing after publishing what they described as evidence of plans for a crackdown in the run up to the Games.

In an open letter to International Olympic Committee President Jacques
Rogge, two US-based groups urged the body to "meet at the earliest
possible date to review new evidence and consider rescinding its decision
to award the 2008 Games to China."

The groups, the Committee for Investigation on Persecution of Religion in
China and the Free China Movement, released what they said was a report
from authorities in Jilin province calling for a crackdown on all
dissident groups, particularly the banned Falungong spiritual movement,
"in order to host a better and successful Olympics in 2008." The report
called for organisers of demonstrations to be swiftly arrested and
"punished severely", sanctions of up to three years in custody and fines
of 10,000 yuan (1,200 dollars) for offenders and for Falungong activists
to be particularly harshly dealt with.

Jilin is one of the provinces where the Falungong has been most active and
was home to its guru, Li Hongzhi, who is now in exile in the United

A spokesman for Jilin ´s public security bureau said he knew nothing about
the document. Other officials were not available for comment because of
the week-long holiday for Mayday.

The appeal to the IOC follows recent hints from Rogge that China ´s human
rights abuses could yet result in it being stripped of the Games.

"We are convinced that the Olympic Games will improve human rights in
China," Rogge told the BBC.

"However the IOC is a responsible organisation and if either security,
logistics or human rights are not acted upon to our satisfaction then we
will act."

IOC officials have since played down the comments, denying that they
amounted to a warning to China.

An IOC delegation which visited Beijing last month declared itself "very
impressed" with the state of the city´s preparations to host the Olympics.

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