Prague - The International Olympic Committee (IOC) should allow free speech during the Olympic Games in Beijing, says an open letter addressed to the IOC and signed by former Czech president Václav Havel and a few Czech top poloticians.
Athletes should then use this freedom of speech by pointing out violations of human rights in China.
His call is supported by a number of prominent human right activists including South African bishop and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Desmond Tutu, Chinese dissident Wei Jingsheng or Vice-President of the European Parliament Edward McMillan-Scott.
Czech organization Olympic Watch informs that the letter is signed by the Green Party members Kateřina Jacques, Ondřej Liška, and Martin Bursík, then European Parliament member Jana Hybášková and former Czech politician and dissident Jan Ruml.
In their appeal, they claim that "it is necessary for all Olympians to be able to learn about the real situation in China and to point out human rights violations freely, whenever and wherever, in line with their conscience. We call on the International Olympic Committee to make that possible."
"We call on all participants of the summer Olympic Games in Beijing to use this liberty to support those whose freedoms, even at the time of the Olympics, are denied by the Chinese government."
China is pressured by international organizations because of its violating basic human rights as well as denying its citizens a free access to information, most often by censoring internet. This week, the government has drawn sharp criticism by the Amnesty International.
Those who signed the appeal want the athletes that will attend the Olympics to be free to express their opinion on Chinese politics.
"Human rights are a universal and inalienable topic... To speak of the conditions of human rights therefore cannot be in violation of the Olympic Charter."
"To speak of human rights is not politics; only authoritarian and totalitarian regimes try to make it so. To speak of human rights is a duty," the signatories claim.
However, the International Olympic Committee is trying to make sure that the event will be affected by politics as less as possible.
Václav Havel is known for having been friends with the exiled Tibeten leader Dalai Lama who visited the Czech Republic a number of occasions. Havel has been a vocal supporter of free Tibet.
autor: mih, Reuters | 1. 8. 2008
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