Beijing Olympics: Amnesty International urges tougher action

March 28th, 2008 - 12:27 pm ICT by admin  

Hamburg, March 28 (DPA) A German member of Amnesty International has accused German and International Olympic Committee members of leniency as the debate on the consequences of China’s crushing of unrest in Tibet continues. A former Swedish minister urged his nation’s athletes to stay away from the opening and closing ceremony of the Aug 8-24 Beijing Olympics while the Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk said he doesn’t plan to attend the opening ceremony.

Calls for action in protest of China’s handling of the Tibet issue have still stopped short of an all-out boycott - which is not wanted by Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, and human rights organisations, and would mainly see the athletes suffer.

But there appears to be a growing consensus that a statement needs to be made if China doesn’t change its hard-line position.

Dirk Pleiter, a member of the German Amnesty International section, said that this firm stand should not apply to politicians alone.

“The sports federations are not thinking seriously about how the human rights situation in Tibet can be improved,” Pleiter told the Ruhr-Nachrichten daily.

“They simply believe that Olympic Games are an automatic force of good. That is irresponsible and naive.”

IOC president Jacques Rogge reiterated around Monday’s lighting of the Olympic flame in ancient Olympia that a boycott of the Beijing games would only worsen the situation.

The German Olympic Committee confirmed the same day it will send a team to Beijing.

“The IOC respects NGOs and activist groups and their causes, and speaks regularly with them - but we are neither a political nor an activist organisation,” said Rogge.

Former Swedish justice minister Thomas Bodstrom, meanwhile, on national television called for Swedish athletes to boycott the opening and closing ceremony of the Games.

He said such a move would “send a very clear signal” to protest the ongoing violence in Tibet and other human rights violations in China.

On the political side, Polish daily Dziennik reported Thursday that Tusk will stay away from the Aug 8 opening ceremony because he considers the presence of politicians “not suitable” under the circumstances.

Tusk is the first European head of government to make such an announcement. Staying away from the ceremonies has also been suggested by French President Nicolas Sarkozy if China continues to refuse a dialogue with the Dalai Lama on Tibet.

Czech President Vaclav Klaus said Wednesday that he would not attend the Games in Beijing while US President George W. Bush will visit the Olympics despite the tensions.

Bush telephoned Chinese President Hu Jintao Wednesday to express his concerns over Beijing’s crackdown on protests in Tibet, to hold talks with the Dalai Lama and allow access to Tibet for journalists and diplomats.

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