Join our Mailing List

"Canada can, within a positive friendly atmosphere, ask the Chinese government to resolve the Tibetan situation."

International Olympic Committee sets precedent with reprimand for Tibet Party boss

June 29, 2008

ICT Press Release
June 26, 2008

In a rare departure, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) said
that it "regrets that political statements were made during the
closing ceremony of the torch relay in Tibet," referring to comments
made by Communist Party chief in the Tibet Autonomous Region Zhang
Qingli, a well-known hardliner who has a leading role in the current crackdown.

"We welcome a public statement by the IOC in response to a Chinese
official using an Olympic stage to assert claim to Tibet and denounce
the Dalai Lama. China accuses the Dalai Lama of attempting to
sabotage the Olympics when, in fact, the Dalai Lama has consistently
supported the Chinese people's aspirations for the 2008 Olympics.
Ironically for the Chinese government, it is one of their own who
gets the first IOC reprimand for mixing politics and sports," said
John Ackerly, President of the International Campaign for Tibet.

In an email to ICT, the IOC said that it regrets that political
statements were made during the closing ceremony of the Torch Relay
in Tibet. Communications Director Giselle Davies said: "We have
written to the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games Organising Committee
(BOCOG) to remind them of the need to separate sport and politics and
to ask for their support in making sure that such situations do not
arise again." The executive president of BOCOG is Guo Jinlong, the
Mayor of Beijing who himself served as Party Secretary of the TAR
from 2000-2004.

Ms Davies did not answer questions posed by ICT as to whether the IOC
would take possible further action in order to ensure that such
comments were not made during the Olympics itself, such as seeking an
apology, or requesting that Zhang Qingli not attend the ceremonies.
The IOC letter to the Beijing Olympic Organising Committee (BOCOG)
sets a precedent for how it will respond to China using Olympic
venues for overtly political statements.

On the Olympic stage in Lhasa, on the official leg of the torch relay
on Saturday (June 21), Zhang Qingli had said: "Tibet's sky will never
change and the red flag with five stars will forever flutter high
above it ... we will certainly be able to totally smash the splittist
schemes of the Dalai Lama clique." He added: "In order to bring more
glory to the Olympic spirit, we should firmly smash the plots to ruin
the Beijing Olympic Games by the Dalai clique and hostile foreign
forces inside and outside of the nation," he said. The transcript of
Zhang's speech on the official website of the Tibet Information
Office ( omitted the line about the Dalai Lama.
Tight security was in place in Lhasa for the torch relay; Lhasa
citizens were told not to leave their houses or look out of their
windows, and there was a climate of fear throughout the city in the
aftermath of protests and riots in March.

Zhang Qingli's comments were consistent with rhetoric throughout his
career as Party Secretary of the TAR since March 2005. In an
interview with the German magazine Der Spiegel a year after his
appointment, he said: "I have never understood why a person like the
Dalai Lama was honored with [the Nobel Peace Prize]...We do not know
how much longer he will live. We believe that good people live longer
while bad people live shorter lives." (August 16, 2006). Zhang
Qingli, who is 57, has assumed a leading role in the crackdown
against the protests in recent months, enforcing an intensified
implementation of 'patriotic education' in monasteries, nunneries and
the lay society in the region which requires even schoolchildren to
write lengthy denunciations of the Dalai Lama. His virulent rhetoric
against the Tibetan religious leader has led to widespread resentment
in Tibet and has provoked further unrest.

The International Campaign for Tibet is asking world leaders to keep
the option of attending the opening ceremony on the table, as more
information about the situation in Tibet becomes available.

This press release can be found online at

Press contact:
Kate Saunders
Communications Director, ICT
Tel: +44 7947 138612
CTC National Office 1425 René-Lévesque Blvd West, 3rd Floor, Montréal, Québec, Canada, H3G 1T7
T: (514) 487-0665
Developed by plank