Playing for human rights at Beijing

Playing for human rights at Beijing

Malaysiakini article by Vaclav Havel, Desmond Tutu et al | Aug 8, 08

beijing olympic games bird nest stadium with military personnal looking at fireworks display 040808VÁCLAV HAVEL is a former president of the Czech Republic, DESMOND TUTU is a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, WEI JINGSHENG is an activist in the Chinese democracy movement, most prominent for authoring the document ‘Fifth Modernisation’ on the ‘Democracy Wall’ in Beijing in 1978 , ANDRÉ GLUCKSMANN is a philosopher and essayist.

The selection of Beijing to organise and host the 2008 Olympic Games was accompanied by the Chinese government’s pledges of visible progress on respect for human rights.

beijing olympics stadiumWe understood these as a condition whose fulfillment the International Olympic Committee would demand.

That is how this year’s Olympics could contribute to a greater openness and respect for international standards of human rights and liberties in the host country.

 

 If the words of the Olympic Charter, stating that it is a goal of Olympism to “place sport at the service of the harmonious development of man, with a view to promoting a peaceful society concerned with the preservation of human dignity,” are to be fulfilled, 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.

 

An interpretation of the Olympic Charter, according to which human rights would be a political topic not to be discussed in the Olympic venues, is alien to us.

Human rights are a universal and inalienable topic, enshrined in international human rights documents that China has also signed onto, transcending international as well as domestic politics, and all cultures, religions and civilisations.

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.

We are concerned that the Beijing Olympics might simply become a giant spectacle to distract the attention of the international public from the violations of human and civil rights in China and in other countries with the Chinese government’s significant influence.

Therefore, we see a dignified celebration of the Olympic ideals not only in sporting performances, but also in the opportunity to express one’s civic attitudes.

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.

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