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NZOC, Govt must speak on China rights breaches

NZ Olympic Committee and Government ministers must speak out against further breaches of human rights by China

Amnesty International is calling on the New Zealand Olympic Committee and New Zealand representatives attending the Olympics to speak out about the increasing human rights abuses occurring in China.

Confirmation that internet censorship has been sanctioned in Beijing by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) [1] and that Amnesty International's website is one of the blocked sites highlights once again that China continues to break its human rights promises with regard the Olympics. Within its latest report [2] Amnesty International details deterioration in key areas including the persecution of human rights activists, detention without trial, and media censorship.

"Speaking out strongly and consistently now is the only way to ensure that such flagrant breaches of human rights do not continue during the Games and that this climate of repression and persecution does not become a lasting legacy of the Olympics for China," says Amnesty International Aotearoa New Zealand (AIANZ) spokesperson Margaret Taylor.

AIANZ has today sent letters, along with it latest report, to the Governor General Anand Satyanand, Prime Minister Helen Clark, Minister of Foreign Affairs Winston Peters, Minister of Sport and Recreation Clayton Cosgrove [3] and sporting spokespersons for all parties urging them to immediately:

• Condemn this latest incident of media censorship and all other human rights abuses Amnesty International has identified, and to do so during any visit to Beijing,

• Call on the NZ Olympic Committee to publicly condemn this censorship.


It has also sent letters to the New Zealand Olympic Committee Secretary General Barry Maister and Chef de Mission Dave Curry calling on them to:

• Publicly condemn this censorship,

• Urge the IOC to do likewise, and to seek assurances from Chinese authorities that such censorship will not continue.


"New Zealand journalists will be amongst those impacted by this censorship and they must be allowed free and unfettered access to the internet. We encourage them to also raise concerns with the IOC and their employing bodies if their right to report freely is abused," says Taylor.


NOTES TO EDITORS:

[1] "I regret that it now appears BOCOG has announced that there will be limitations on website access during Games time (…). I also now understand that some IOC officials negotiated with the Chinese that some sensitive sites would be blocked on the basis they were not considered Games related."

Kevin Gosper, International Olympic Committee (IOC) press commission chair

[2] "The Olympics Countdown: Broken Promises" http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/ASA17/089/2008/en

[3] The Governor General will attend the Opening Ceremony; Clayton Cosgrove is to attend part of the Games but not the Opening Ceremony.


ENDS

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