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Tibetans and supporters call for action at Athens IOC meeting

June 04, 2008

June 4, 2008

Tibetans and supporters call for action at Athens IOC meeting
Demand media access, cancellation of Tibet Torch relay

(Montreal) – Tibetans and their supporters around the world stepped up pressure on the International Olympic Committee today, calling for media access to Tibet and cancellation of the planned Olympic torch relay through Tibet as the IOC’s Executive Board began a three-day meeting in Athens. The meeting – the last before the Beijing Olympics in August – comes just days before the Olympic torch is scheduled to makes its first stop in Tibet on June 11th.
Tibet support groups from Europe and North America are in Athens, calling for IOC President Jacques Rogge to meet with them and address concerns that the Tibet leg of the torch relay is encouraging increased repression of Tibetans in the wake of the recent protests and unrest that swept the region in March, while elsewhere around the world, Tibetans and Tibet supporters are phoning and faxing IOC members with the same message.

“It’s inconceivable that the IOC is blindly insisting on running the torch through Tibet when the area is so tense that journalists are still being refused entry to see what is really going on,” said Canada Tibet Committee Executive Director Dermod Travis. “By failing to remove the torch from Tibet, the IOC is endorsing the Chinese government’s crackdown and media blackout, and provoking more brutality from Chinese authorities desperate to keep the torch relay free of protests."

The situation inside Tibet remains critical as protests continue and thousands remain detained or missing as a result of the crackdown that has been sweeping across Tibet since March. Tibetans are being subjected to intimidation and harsh suppression of religious and other freedoms, as Chinese authorities carry out house-to-house searches, detentions, “patriotic re-education,” and force Tibetans to engage in other displays of “patriotism.” Most recently, on May 28th, three nuns were arrested and a 21-year-old female protester was fired on by security forces in eastern Tibet, following at least six protests by nuns in the area throughout May that resulted in more than 80 arrests.

"The IOC has already failed to keep its promises of media freedom in China before and during the Olympics, and now they are allowing the Olympic Torch to become a tool for further military build-up and crackdown in Tibet,” said Travis. “Every IOC Board Member has a moral obligation to stand up to China's politicization of the Olympics and find the courage to take action to prevent a humanitarian disaster in Tibet."

Tibetans and supporters worldwide have been pressuring the 15 individual members of the IOC Executive Board to withdraw authorization for the Beijing Organizing Committee of the Olympic Games (BOCOG) to parade the Olympic torch through Tibet, scheduled to begin June 11th in Gyalthang (“Shangri-la”) in Yunnan province, in the Tibetan area of Kham, and later June 18th or 19th to 23rd, through Lhasa and cities in the Tibetan area of Amdo, now Qinghai.

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For more information:    
Dermod Travis
Executive Director, CTC

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