Open Letter to the Members of the International Olympic Committee (IOC)

04/07/2001
Press release
en fr

Dear Madam, Dear Sir,

On 13 July next, the IOC of which you are a member will be making a public announcement regarding which of the 5 candidate cities (Istanbul, Osaka, Paris, Peking, Toronto) has been chosen to organise the 2008 Olympic Games.

Your decision will be crucial as it will bestow extraordinary recognition to the city in question, the entire country and its leaders, who rightly seize this opportunity to make the best use of such a formidable communication tool to boast about the merit of their nation as a whole and the virtues of their regime.

In this context, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and Human Rights in China (HRIC), a member organisation of the FIDH, note with great concern that, among the 3 cities that seem to stand the best chance, as stated in a report drafted by the IOC Evaluation Committee, are Toronto, Peking and Paris. One of these, namely Peking, is the capital city of a country where human rights are systematically violated on a daily basis.

Capital executions, up to as many as 91 in the week of 9 April 2001, torture, arbitrary detention, intolerance based on religious beliefs, censorship, persecutions in Tibet and in Xinjiang, obstacles to the freedom of association and to the right to form and join trade unions, and violence committed as part of an anti-birth policy form a performance of the human rights’ situation in China. Such flagrant and systematic violations of basic universal norms concerning human rights are an insult to human dignity. In this regard, Human Rights in China (HRIC) contacted you last February 19th.

In view of such findings, choosing Peking to host the Olympic Games would be a direct contradiction to the fundamental principles governing your organisation as well as the actual goal of the Olympism which is "to place everywhere sport at the service of the harmonious development of Man, with a view to encouraging the establishment of a peaceful society concerned with the preservation of human dignity" (Fundamental Principle number 3 of the Olympic Charter). These very principles go far beyond the framework of the Olympic Movement and are closely tied to fundamental universal values regarding human rights, which we strive to defend on a daily basis.

As a member of the IOC you cannot be unaware of these principles of which you are both the guardian and the guarantor. Thus, compliance with and the implementation of these fundamental principals should inevitably guide your thinking and your decision. The oath you swore during your formal nomination as new members of the IOC formally binds you to do so (cf rule 20 para 1.3 of the Olympic Charter).

Furthermore, the candidates have already committed themselves to comply with the Olympic Charter by virtue of a signed declaration by their governments that was added to their application file (as laid down in rule 37.4 of the Olympic Charter).

Consequently, the FIDH sincerely hopes that you are subjecting Peking’s application and the decision which you will take on July 13th to close scrutiny, and the condition of the Chinese Authorities’ adoption of concrete measures particularly in regard to the following items:

- full freedom of information for national and international media ;
- freedom of expression for Chinese citizens and the absence of reprisals for those who avail themselves of this right ;
- the release of all those who have been detained on account of the peaceful use of their basic rights ;
- a firm commitment not to resort to a form of administrative detention called Custody and Repatriation of undesirable people - migrant workers, homeless children, people with no fixed abode etc - which we fear might be especially used during the preparatory phase and for the entire duration of the Games (Cf. letter of HRIC to IOC members, February 2001) ;
- monitoring before and after the Games in order to ensure that the Chinese authorities have lived up to their commitment.

If these conditions were not to be implemented, the FIDH would consider that your decision would be tantamount to condoning a criminal régime, which would be a serious violation of the fundamental principles that govern the Olympic Movement.

We hope that you will take due note of this question and we remain at your disposal should you require further information concerning human rights in China (www.fidh.org or www.HRIChina.org).

Yours faithfully,

Sidiki KABA
President of FIDH

c.c: : - Maître François Carrard, General Director of the IOC
- Non-voting members of the IOC

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