07/29/2008, 00.00
TIBET – CHINA

Shame on Olympic committee and foreign heads of government going to Beijing, says Tibetan leader

by Nirmala Carvalho
The head of the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy criticises Jacques Rogge’s silence on human rights, calls on political leaders attending the Olympics to ask Hu Jintao about the fate of 5,500 Tibetan prisoners. There are great fears that repression will increase after the Olympics.

Dharamsala (AsiaNews) - “Human rights have not improved with the Games; shame on the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and China,” said Urgen Tenzin, executive director of the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) who expects a “tragedy with reference to human rights once the Olympics are over.

“If the Chinese do not care to improve the Human Rights situations in the run up to the Olympics, you can only imagine the post Olympics tragedy.  China will heighten its repression against the Tibetan people once the Olympics have ended,” he said.

Tenzin noted that China won the right to host the Olympic Games because the IOC and Chinese authorities pledged to improve human rights.

The Tibetan activist points his finger at IOC President Jacques Rogge, who recently told a Belgian newspaper that “the IOC is not authorised and has no means to interfere in sovereign matters” like “the situation in Tibet”.

For Tenzin, the statement by the IOC director is “irresponsible”.

“The Chinese government made a commitment to the IOC to improve the human rights situation inside China and Tibet. Now those pledges have been blatantly ignored by both the IOC and the Chinese government.”

“At the Beijing Olympic Games, China will announce to the world its arrival as new power and sadly they will—as they have been doing—accuse HH the Dalai Lama and the [Tibetan] government-in-exile. Yet the Dalai Lama has always supported the Beijing Olympic Games; even Tibetans are supporting the Beijing Olympic Games. The Tibetans are not anti-Chinese; they are only against Chinese government policies.”

For Tenzin the IOC should ask for greater “transparency”.

“We are concerned that as a result of the 10 March demonstrations, at least 6,500 Tibetans were arrested. About a thousand were freed, but that leaves 5,500 still in prison. The news we have is that confessions have been extorted under torture and that trials are a farce.”

Tenzin calls on heads of state and government who are going to Beijing for the Olympic ceremonies “to use this opportunity to speak loud and clear about human rights and their violations in China and Tibet.”

The TCHRD director is concerned that “once the Olympics are over, China will increase its repression against the Tibetan people.”

Following the violence in Tibet last March and pressures from the international community, Beijing accepted after years to meet delegates from the Dalai Lama.

“Our special envoys returned to India and in their statement said that China has no political will to resolve the Tibetan issue,” he said. “The heads of state [going to Beijing] should speak to President Hu Jintao to engage in a meaningful dialogue with the Dalai Lama.”

Amnesty International backed Terzin’s allegations yesterday. For the international organisation human rights in China worsened since China won the right to host the Games. The London-based human rights group also accused the IOC of remaining silent towards Beijing.

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