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"I believe that to meet the challenges of our times, human beings will have to develop a greater sense of universal responsibility. It is the foundation for world peace."

China's Olympic Torch relay set to continue through Tibet

June 9, 2008

International Campaign for Tibet
June 6th, 2008

Demonstrators protest in front of the Eiffel Tower during the Olympic
torch relay in Paris on April 7, 2008. (Photo: ICT) Demonstrators
protest in front of the Eiffel Tower during the Olympic torch relay
in Paris on April 7, 2008. (Photo: ICT)

Following the conclusion of a meeting of the International Olympic
Committee (IOC) in Athens today, IOC Chairman Jacques Rogge confirmed
that the Olympic Torch will still pass through Tibet. The decision
not to cancel or re-route the Torch Relay away from Tibetan areas
comes despite the profound concerns of Tibet support groups that the
Torch will be the catalyst for an even tighter security crackdown
that could even provoke further dissent and detentions.

Yesterday, the International Campaign for Tibet (ICT) sent a petition
containing around 6000 signatures to IOC members in Athens calling on
the IOC to withdraw permission for the Torch to pass through Tibet.
Today at a press conference following the IOC meeting - the last such
meeting before the Beijing Olympics begin in August - Jacques Rogge
said: "The Chinese have expressed the wish to pass the torch in all
their provinces and regions," and added "Tibet is a part of China and
a region of China so it is normal that they pass through Tibet."

"Mary Beth Markey, Vice President of ICT, said "It beggars belief
that Mr. Rogge could claim anything about Tibet is normal at the
moment. It is not 'normal' that almost the entire Tibetan plateau has
been locked down; and it is certainly not 'normal' that the
whereabouts of hundreds and possibly thousands of Tibetans remain
unknown with people continuing to disappear every day."

The IOC has come under intense pressure to urge the Chinese
authorities to make better progress towards meeting commitments on
improving human rights in China - commitments which were integral to
the IOC's decision to award the Summer Olympics to Beijing in 2001.
In public at least, the IOC has not yet made any statement to
indicate they are in any way prepared to criticize or censure the
Chinese authorities for continued and worsening human rights abuses
in China, which include imposing ever stricter controls on the
foreign media in China and Tibet as the Olympics approach.

Instead, according to an internal memo recently leaked to the press,
IOC members were merely advised to offer their "deepest sympathies or
condolences" in the event that anyone protesting against the Olympics
is killed.

"The Olympic Games are an international sporting event, and the
Olympic Torch is a symbol of peace," said Mary Beth Markey. "The
Olympics do not exist in a vacuum, and neither the Torch nor the
Games belong to Beijing but to the citizens of the world, including
the Tibetan people. This decision - or lack of a decision - to allow
the Torch to pass through Tibet is irresponsible at best, and
reprehensible at worst."
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