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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."

Tutu, Havel urge athletes to speak up at Games

August 2, 2008

Reuters
July 31, 2008

PRAGUE (Reuters) - Czech ex-president Vaclav Havel and Nobel Peace
Prize winner Desmond Tutu called on Olympic athletes on Thursday to
speak up on human rights in China during the Beijing Olympics next month.

Havel, a human rights campaigner jailed by Communist rulers before
their government fell in 1989, and the South African Archbishop Tutu
said in an open letter the International Olympic Committee (IOC)
should let athletes know about the suppression of liberties in China.

"It is necessary for all Olympians to be able to learn about the real
situation in China and to point out human rights violations freely
whenever and wherever, in line with their conscience," the letter said.

"We call on the International Olympic Committee to make that possible."

Beijing has drawn criticism from international rights groups for acts
such as the arrest of a prominent dissident and the censorship of
some websites, and scrutiny of its foreign policy and rights records
is mounting ahead of the August 8-24 Games.

The IOC has worked hard to keep Games-linked events and ceremonies as
politics-free as possible.

But athletes should speak out and the IOC should allow them to, said
the letter, also signed by Chinese dissident Wei Jingsheng and
European Parliament Vice-President Edward McMillan-Scott.

"To speak of the conditions of human rights ... cannot be in
violation of the Olympic Charter," the letter said.

"To speak of human rights is not politics; only authoritarian and
totalitarian regimes try to make it so. To speak of human rights is a duty."

Havel irked the Chinese government on several occasions during his
1989-2003 tenure as president, mainly through his personal friendship
with the exiled Tibetan leader, the Dalai Lama.
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