Rights group accuses IOC of ‘moral void’

April 1st, 2008 - 7:24 pm ICT by admin  

Beijing, April 1 (DPA) The International Olympic Committee (IOC) began its final inspection of preparations for the Beijing games Tuesday as a rights group accused it of “operating in a moral void”. “The refusal of the IOC to dissociate itself from the abuses directly linked to the preparation of the Beijing games is undermining human rights in China and flouting the spirit and the letter of the Olympic Charter,” New York-based Human Rights Watch said in a statement.

Chinese state media quoted Hein Verbruggen, head of the IOC’s coordination commission for the games, as saying the body would continue to avoid commenting on “political issues”.

“Clearly, in recent time more than ever, the Beijing games are being drawn into issues that do not necessarily have a link with the operations of the games,” the official Xinhua news agency quoted Verbruggen as saying at the opening of a three-day meeting with the Beijing organizers.

“We are all aware that the international community are discussing this topic but it is important to remember that our main focus during this meeting is the successful delivery of the games operation and therefore the success of the Beijing games for the athletes of the world,” he said.

Apart from human rights abuses and lack of democracy, activists have also criticized China for its handling of Tibetan independence protests and its support to the Sudanese government, which is blamed for serious abuses in the Darfur region.

Tibetan activists disrupted the traditional ceremony to light the flame last week in Olympia, Greece, and are expected to stage protests during several legs of the international torch relay, which is scheduled to begin in Kazakhstan Wednesday.

Protesters are angry at China’s crushing of unrest in Tibet earlier this month and its plans to take the torch through Tibet and to the top of Mount Everest.

Human Rights Watch circulated an open letter urging the IOC’s Ethics Commission to take a series of steps, including examining the “extent to which Beijing has fulfilled its commitments to the IOC when bidding for the games”.

It said this week’s meeting of the IOC and the Beijing organizers takes place “amidst growing international alarm over China’s human rights record, particularly after the recent events in Tibet”.

The letter also said the Ethics Commission should “consider the implication of the Chinese government’s failure to uphold its commitment to allow unrestricted media access ahead of the games”.

It should “alert the IOC to the existence of serious risks of human rights abuses around the games, particularly on issues where Chinese government policies are in conflict with international law, such as the right to demonstrate, worship, or impart information, and recommend a course of action”, Human Rights Watch said.

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