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

Amnesty Asks Kiwi Olympians to Take Stand

June 12, 2008

Amnesty International wants Olympians to speak out over human rights
abuses in China.
Olympic Games
The New Zealand Herald
June 10, 2008

Amnesty International is sending information packs to New Zealand
Olympic athletes in the hope they will speak out about human rights
abuses in China.

Two months out from the Beijing Olympics, Amnesty International has
written to Olympic athletes backgrounding its concerns about China.

The packs tell the stories of those who have suffered under the
Chinese government, outlines Amnesty's position on the Olympics,
suggests ways athletes can take action and contains badges, bumper
stickers and tattoos.

Athletes are being asked to speak out, write to those jailed by the
Chinese regime, sign petitions and a banner, place an Amnesty sticker
on their luggage or sports bag, and put their views on Amnesty's
China campaign website.

"We would like Kiwi athletes speak out as international athletes
have," Amnesty campaigns manager Margaret Taylor told NZPA.

"New Zealanders have never shied away from speaking out for what is right."

The pack cites Dutch triple Olympic swimming champion Pieter van den
Hoogenband as calling for Olympic boss Jacques Rogge to speak out on
behalf of all athletes against the human rights situation in China.

"We know that like...van den Hoogenband you will be concentrating on
delivering the best performance of your lives in Beijing," the letter
to athletes reads.

"But that hasn't stopped Pieter speaking out and that is why we are
writing to ask you to do the same."

Ms Taylor said the New Zealand Olympic Committee (NZOC), which
prepares and organises the Olympic team, knew what was planned.

A spokeswoman for the NZOC told NZPA it had no objection to athletes
being contacted by Amnesty International, but it would not be
supplying contact details.

"While we support freedom of expression and the right of
organisations and individuals to hold and express their views,
assisting third parties to distribute material, such as Amnesty
International's information kit, is not part of our focus or role," she said.

An Amnesty report released this year said abuses, including the
torture and ill-treatment of prisoners, use of the death penalty,
censorship, restrictions on assembly and repression of minorities
were still commonplace in China.

Severe restrictions remained on freedom of religion, freedom, and
association in Tibet while peaceful expressions of support for the
Tibetan spiritual and political leader the Dalai Lama were "harshly
punished", it said.

In February, the NZOC said a controversial clause criticised as
gagging New Zealand's athletes at the Beijing Olympics would be
changed if athletes want.

Green MP Keith Locke welcomed the "U-turn", saying it would give New
Zealand athletes the right to speak freely about what they saw in China.

Double Olympic equestrian gold medallist Mark Todd has said he would
peacefully protest the issue of Tibet, if selected.

"I think athletes in general would be obliged to do something like
that," he said.
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