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IOC refuses to act on media freedom in Tibet

June 06, 2008

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 6, 2008

IOC refuses to act on media freedom in Tibet
Rejects appeal to pull Torch from Tibet as protests, arrests continue

[Montreal] - The final meeting of the International Olympic Committee’s Executive Board came to a close today with no progress on concerns raised by Tibetans and Tibet campaigners about lack of media freedom in Tibet and the negative repercussions of carrying the Olympic torch through Tibet.
 
The torch is scheduled to enter Tibet just five days from now, on June 11th; journalists have been denied access to Tibetan areas since late March. Tibet support groups urged the IOC throughout the meeting in Athens to address concerns that the Tibet leg of the torch relay is encouraging increased repression in the wake of the recent protests and unrest that swept the region in March and is likely to provoke protests and another harsh crackdown when it is carried through Tibetan areas on June 11th and from June 18th or 19th to 23rd.

“We are shocked that the IOC is blindly insisting on taking the torch through Tibet when the area is so tense that journalists are not even being given free access 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.

“For the IOC to authorize the Olympic torch - a symbol that supposedly belongs to the people of the world - to be taken through Tibet without even standing up for media freedom is shameful,” said Travis. "This year's Olympic Torch represents suffering and bloodshed to the Tibetan people, and it is disgraceful that the IOC seems just as eager as the Chinese government to hide what’s happening in Tibet from the outside world by not demanding that journalists be given unfettered access to the region."

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 carry 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.

The Canada Tibet Committee is an independent non-governmental organisation of Tibetans and non-Tibetans living in Canada, who are concerned about the continuing human rights violations and lack of democratic freedom in Tibet.
 
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Pour plus d’informations/For more information:
Dermod Travis                                                   
Canada Tibet Committee                                   
514.487.0665                                        

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