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



Olympic Watch responds to Beijing organizer claims

Prague, August 14, 2008 - Olympic Watch chairman Jan Ruml responded to claims made by Wang Wei, vice-president of the Beijing Organizing Committee, at a press conference in Beijing today. “For Wang Wei to claim that the Beijing Olympics has led to greater respect for human rights is an outrageously absurd statement,” said Jan Ruml, chairman of Olympic Watch. Read more >>>


Adopt China’s prisoners of conscience - Olympic Watch to athletes and leaders

Prague - August 1, 2008 - One week before the start of the Beijing Olympics, Olympic athletes, officials and public leaders from participating countries are being asked to adopt Chinese human rights defenders persecuted by the Chinese government. As a follow-up to yesterday’s appeal signed by Czech ex-president Vaclav Havel, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Desmond Tutu and Chinese exile activist Wei Jingsheng, Olympic Watch has launched its Adopt2008.org campaign. Read more >>>


Václav Havel, Desmond Tutu, MEPs call for human rights at Beijing Olympics

Prague, 31 July 2008 – A group of international intellectual, spiritual and political leaders has published a public appeal today, calling on the International Olympic Committee to allow full access to information at Beijing Olympics and on Olympic athletes to express themselves in support of people whose rights are being violated by the Chinese government. The signatories, including writer and former Czech president Václav Havel, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Chinese dissident Wei Jingsheng, European Parliament Vice-President Edward McMillan-Scott, and philosopher André Glucksmann, reject the notion that peaceful promotion of human rights would constitute political propaganda prohibited by the Olympic Charter. Read more >>>


Release “Olympic prisoners” and free Chinese media, Olympic Watch requests

Prague, February 7, 2008 – With six months to go until the Beijing 2008 Olympics, Olympic Watch is calling for an end to human rights abuses in China. Specifically calling for the release of “Olympic prisoners” Hu Jia, Yang Chunlin and Ye Guozhu, it also reminds the International Olympic Committee that full media freedom must be guaranteed in China as promised in 2001. In press freedom, the IOC must not discriminate between foreign and Chinese media, because that would contradict the Olympic ideal of non-discrimination, Olympic Watch says. Read more >>>


Olympic Watch statement one year before Beijing 2008 Olympics

When in 2001 the International Olympic Committee awarded the 2008 Olympic Games to Beijing, it did so as the Beijing bidding committee pledged that the hosting of the Games “will help the development of human rights” and most notably, “there will be no restrictions on media reporting and movement of journalists up to and including the Olympic Games”. Read more >>>


Chinese human rights activists write IOC

Brussels, May 19, 2007 – A coalition of international organizations working for human rights improvements in China, including several associations of the Chinese democratic exile, has sent an open letter to Jacques Rogge, president of the IOC. The letter calls on Rogge to hold the Beijing Organizing Committee accountable for the lack of human rights progress in China. Considering the promises made by Beijing during its candidacy for the 2008 Olympics, the letter reminds the IOC of the necessity to ensure freedom of the press and of the human rights violations carried out in relation to the Games. The letter also calls on the IOC to stop the political abuse of the Olympic ideals by the propaganda machine of the Chinese Communist Party. Read more >>>


Olympic Watch writes National Olympic Committees

Prague, December 10, 2006 - Olympic Watch, an organization campaigning for human rights improvements in China before the 2008 Olympic Games, has sent a letter to national Olympic committees around the world. Sent twenty months before the Games are to start and on the eve of the International Human Rights Day, the letter alerts the national committees about the ongoing human rights violations in China and reminds them of their obligations in defending Olympic ideals. Read more >>>


Two years until Beijing 2008: IOC fails, activists call on athletes, sponsors to act

Prague / Paris / Frankfurt / Washington, August 7, 2006 - Two years before the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games are to begin, an international coalition of human rights organizations has issued a joint statement, saying the International Olympic Committee has failed to protect Olympic ideals and calling on national Olympic committees, athletes and sponsors to take action. Citing continuing human rights violations and political propaganda abuse of the Games by the Chinese authoritarian government, they say boycott is one of possible options of protest. Read more >>>


After Torino, focus on Beijing’s human rights record

Prague / Paris / Frankfurt / Washington, February 28, 2006 – An international 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.” Read more >>>


Olympic Watch writes IOC, raises the case of Ye Guozhu

On Human Rights Day, Olympic Watch’s Chairman Jan Ruml wrote a letter to Jacques Rogge, President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), urging him to raise human rights issues with China at every possible occasion. The letter informs Mr. Rogge of the Minimum Standards for Beijing 2008 (which were enclosed as an attachment to the letter) as a joint position of several human rights organizations. Lastly, Mr. Ruml raises the case Ye Guozhu, an evictee activist, whose plight is typical of the kind of human rights abuse in China today, and urges Rogge to inquire about his case during his next meeting with the Beijing 2008 Olympics organizers. Read more >>>


Europe-wide call against lifting China arms embargo

Prague / Amsterdam / Brussels, December 3, 2004 – A broad coalition of pro-democracy and pro-Tibetan NGOs from around Europe has written an open letter to the European Union today, urging it not to lift the arms embargo on China. They point out that the original reason for the embargo, the Tiananmen massacre, continues to be justified by the Beijing government and activists from the pro-democracy movement remain in prison. “An end to the embargo cannot be justified without significant improvement of human rights in China,“ reads the letter signed by twenty-four organizations. They call on the Beijing government to revise their position on the Tiananmen events; release prisoners of conscience; state that it will not use weapons against the people of China, Tibet, and Taiwan; negotiate with the Dalai Lama; adopt international human rights standards; and introduce moratorium on executions. The letter comes five days ahead of the EU-China summit. Read more >>>


Human rights organizations unveil “Minimum Standards for Beijing 2008”

Prague / Frankfurt / Washington, August 29, 2004 – Three human rights organizations have published a set of “minimum standards” that Beijing should meet in order to be a good host for the next Olympic Games. They argue that the situation in China contradicts the ideals of the Olympic Charter. If there is no progress by 2006, Olympic Watch, the International Society for Human Rights (ISHR / IGFM) and the Laogai Research Foundation will “assist the international community in finding alternative solutions”. Specifically, this coalition requests that the PRC ratify the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which the Beijing government signed six years ago. Other standards cover no use of military power against peaceful democratic action, moratorium on the death penalty, democracy for Hong Kong, talks with the Tibetan government-in-exile and the abolition of slave labor camps where people are sent without a trial. Read more >>>


Chinese, Tibetan exile and Olympic Watch call for moment of silence during Athens closing ceremony

Athens / Prague / Washington, August 26, 2004 – Prominent Chinese pro-democracy groups and Olympic Watch have joined Tibetan rights supporters in calling for a peaceful protest during the closing ceremony of the Athens Olympics this Sunday, 29 August. Athletes and spectators are being asked to demonstrate their support for human rights in China and Tibet by remaining silent during China’s presentation and the handover of the Olympic Flag from Athens to Beijing. Olympic Watch, the International Tibet Support Network and the Laogai Research Foundation are among those endorsing the action. Read more >>>


IOC asked to take a stand on Athens Olympics censorship

Prague / Frankfurt, August 10, 2004 – Two human rights organizations are calling on the International Olympic Committee to take a stand on an “attack on the freedom of speech” at the 2004 Athens Olympic Games. Olympic Watch and International Society for Human Rights (ISHR/IGFM) are “extremely concerned to hear that posters and other material promoting … Taiwan are being blocked from display at Athens International Airport and elsewhere in the city”. The news of posters being taken down and billboards being blocked has been reported by major international media over the past few days. Read more >>>


Censorship in China limits also information on Olympic history

Censors in China have blocked the publication of a book on the history of the Olympics, the International Herald Tribune reports. This was allegedly only because of a few references to doping and harsh training methods in China within the 1000-page book by David Wallechinsky. Censorship and other violations of the freedom of expression are among the types of human rights abuses inherent to the undemocratic regime in the PRC. In the run-up to the 2004 Athens Olympic Games, this gives yet another clear example to the international community of the way the Olympic ideals might be violated by Beijing in 2008 if there is no respect for human rights and no progress towards democracy in China. Read more >>>


Olympic Watch: Hong Kong must remain free

Prague, June 30, 2004 – Olympic Watch has issued a statement today, calling on the Beijing government “to respect the wishes of Hong Kong citizens and to uphold its commitments from the Sino-British Joint Declaration and the Hong Kong Basic Law”. The plea comes on the eve of the seventh anniversary of Hong Kong’s return under Chinese administration. Read more >>>


Statement on torture in China

On the International Day against Torture this June 26, Olympic Watch calls on the government of the People’s Republic of China to stop the abhorrent practices of torture and ill-treatment throughout the PRC. Read more >>>


Global Tiananmen Vigil: Thursday, June 3, 7:00pm

On Thursday, June 3, at 19:00 in various time zones, people around the world will light candles in their windows to commemorate the fifteenth anniversary of the massacre in downtown Beijing. This is the ambition of the Global Tiananmen Vigil, an international initiative launched today by Olympic Watch and its five partner organizations. Read more >>>


On Falun Dafa Day, Olympic Watch protests religious persecution

Prague, May 13, 2004 – On the occasion of the Falun Dafa Day, Olympic Watch (Committee for the 2008 Olympic Games in a Free and Democratic Country) has issued a statement today, condemning the religious persecution in the People’s Republic of China. "Olympic Watch condemns the ongoing violation of rights of Falun Gong practitioners, as well as of Tibetan Buddhists, Chinese Christians and followers of other spiritual movements. On this day, our thoughts go to all those who are being detained, tortured and otherwise persecuted for their peaceful activities," reads the statement signed by Jan Ruml, Chairman of Olympic Watch. Read more >>>


Choices in Beijing: On Vaclav Klaus trip to China

Petr Kutilek, Executive Secretary of Olympic Watch, has published an article in the Prague Post, arguing that Czech President Klaus has the obligation to thoroughly discuss Beijing’s human rights abuses during his trip to China. The piece, titled "Choices in Beijing", refuses the typical cultural relativism approach that Klaus and some other Western politicians adopt when dealing with China. The democratic determination of people in Hong Kong and Taiwan, as well as of dissidents in the PRC, shows that those Chinese who can or dare to speak their mind freely, understand very well the concepts of human rights and democracy. Read more >>>


Olympic Watch Chairman on Vera radar sales to China

Jan Ruml, Vice-Speaker of the Czech Senate and Chairman of Olympic Watch, has published an article in the biggest Czech newspaper, MF Dnes, in which he protests against the imminent sales of the Vera advanced radar system to the PRC. The deal has been licensed by the Czech Ministry of Industry and Trade. Ruml notes the security risks related (Vera may make it easier for Beijing to attack Taiwan; Chinese communists may further develop Vera without any checks) and the fact that the sales contradict the policies of Czech allies in NATO and EU. He also denounces the sales vis-à-vis the human rights situation in PRC and Beijing’s contacts to other totalitarian regimes. Read more >>>


Letter to Czech president Klaus before visit to China

Representatives of Olympic Watch and Amnesty International Czech Republic have handed over to the Office of the President a letter, written to Vaclav Klaus by four human rights organizations on the eve of his visit to the People’s Republic of China. In the letter, they appreciate that the Czech president has pledged to discuss the human rights situation in China during his trip, and add specific suggestions for negotiations. Read more >>>


Olympic Watch refuses EU arms sales to China

Prague, March 19, 2004 – Jan Ruml, Chairman of Olympic Watch and Vice-Speaker of the Czech Senate, is sending a letter to foreign ministers of all EU Member States today, urging them not to lift the embargo on arms sales to the People’s Republic of China at the next EU summit. Olympic Watch has also called on its supporters worldwide to join the campaign with their own letters. Read more >>>


New Year wishes from Olympic Watch

Jan Ruml, Chairman of Olympic Watch, has recorded the following Lunar New Year greeting for the global Chinese television station, NTDTV. Read more >>>


Olympic Watch: Prevent SARS through freedom of speech

Prague, January 9, 2004 – Olympic Watch (Committee for the 2008 Olympic Games in a Free and Democratic Country) has issued a statement today in which it responds to the latest cases of SARS in China. It calls on the government of the People’s Republic to China “to ensure the freedom of speech and access to information”, pointing out that “[t]his will be the only way to effectively curb the spread of the virus.” Read more >>>


Olympic Watch representatives meet IOC tonight at Prague’s Zofin

Prague, July 3, 2003. Jan Ruml, Acting President of the Committee for the 2008 Olympic Games in a Free and Democratic Country (Olympic Watch), Michael Zantovsky, and other representatives of the Committee will meet the Executive Board of the International Olympic Committee tonight. The meeting will take place during the reception at Prague’s Zofin hall. Read more >>>

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