An open letter to International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge

Mr. Rogge:

I read CNN.com’s article where you were reported as stating the following: ‘International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge said the committee would consider ending the international leg of the Beijing Olympic torch relay because of such anti-Chinese protests.’

I am a sympathizer with the Free Tibet movement, and I advocate peaceful demonstrations and non-violence as a matter of course. I am not an active participant in the current global demonstrations, primarily because the spotlight of international attention which follows the Olympic Torch will not be coming near my home location. However, I cannot sit silently when I see such gross misunderstanding of the fundamental purposes underlying recent protests surrounding the Olympic Torch.

To label the current protests surrounding the Torch as being “anti-Chinese” is to misunderstand a fundamental objection and to trivialize the motivations of the protesters. While the Free Tibet movement is indeed aimed to bring about political and cultural changes aimed at actions and attitudes taken by the Chinese government, the Torch protests are not merely “anti-Chinese”. They are, more properly, a statement of protest against the absolute hypocrisy of the International Olympic Committee, which results from the IOC’s decision to turn a blind eye against the continuing oppressive human rights abuses which China is perpetuating. 

J’accuse, M. Rogge.

An international organization dedicated to sportsmanship and international peace cannot afford to pretend that these 2008 games are being held without blood on their hands. On your hands, sir.  While it is a financial impossibility to cancel or relocate the games at this hour, it falls upon the IOC to at the very least publicly acknowledge and sternly condemn the ways that this year’s host country continues to abuse the very spirit of Olympic competition and continued international peace which the Olympic Games stand for. To do otherwise is not only to turn a blind eye to the continued aggression of China’s military occupation of the sovereign nation of Tibet, but it is to tacitly endorse these draconian measures of suppression of dissent and continued flagrant violations of basic human rights.

I urge you and all of the IOC to take an immediate and clear stance of opposition to these measures and to issue a formal censure of the Chinese government in their human rights violations during this Olympics season, declaring them to be contrary to the spirit of the games. While we both know that this will essentially change nothing in the immediate conflict between the Chinese occupation forces and the Tibetan nationals, what it will do is acknowledge the horrible sins of convenience that the IOC is now guilty of committing. It will restore faith in the Olympics as a beacon of hope and a bulwark of peaceful competition. And it will be the first step that the IOC can take to do damage control for the horrendous public relations nightmare you are currently in the middle of.

Do the right thing, M. Rogge, not the convenient thing.

The world is watching.

-Adam Pacio
human

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15 responses to “An open letter to International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge

  1. Adam Pacio,
    Your nonsense is beyond belief. Just like CNN,
    you are biased and deliberately distort the truth.
    I am going to assure you the supporters of Beijing Olympic will completely outnumber you little seperatists. I cannot see other motives behind your vicious action other than pure jealousity and fear of the Chinese achievements in recent years. Go ahead and spread your lies. One day, you will realize how laughable you were.

    Truth Teller

  2. On the contrary, I harbor no ill will toward the Chinese people. I ask for all governments to be held to account for human rights violations and acts of blatant imperialism… even my own.

    But I respect your right to your opinion, and certainly respect your passion.

  3. Mr Pacio,

    If you truly believe in freedom and human rights, please give Red Indians back their country.
    Where do you go?
    You descendents of British colonialists are still occupying other peoples’ land.
    I guess you forgot.

  4. @Charlie:

    If I were arguing resettlement for the Chinese currently living in Tibet instead of returning political autonomy and control, that would definitely be an argument.

    Instead of trying to insult me for ignoring the plight of the Native American, consider that instead I am standing up to be identified as a Free Tibet supported *because* of it.

    Human rights abuses have been perpetuated in the past on the Native Americans. I spent 5 years in college near the St. Regis Mohawk reservation, made many Native friends, and spent a full year studying the Mohawk language and customs.

    While opinions are going to be very varied from individual to individual and tribe to tribe, the Native Americans I called my friends made it pretty clear that what they wanted was a) for the US to honor their treaties and give all Reservations the powers of autonomy negotiated under law, b) reparations and restitution where realistically possible and legally verifiable, and c) to be left alone.

    I have no problem with those three requests. It is a small thing to do to correct wrongs visited upon their ancestors.

    The “ancestors” of the Tibetan invasion, however, are still a living generation today. The Chinese government still continually and actively censors information into and out of the country, strictly controlling journalists and quickly and violently repressing any sentiments of dissent. Even Google has been filtered and regulated, all because the Chinese government apparently distrusts its citizens enough to fear what they would do if they actually got to make up their own minds based on more than just party-sanctioned propaganda.

    Yes, I believe in a Free Tibet. And to return to this topic, I have deep feelings of regret that the IOC consented to allow Beijing to host the olympics. It sullies the very reputation and symbolism of the games, turning the Olympics into a completely empty corporate gesture. More bread & circuses for the world’s population to divert themselves with.

  5. Mr Pacio,

    I have no wish to insult you or trade insults with you or anyone else.

    Do you Western people really believe in FREE speech. You can’t even take a different point of view without catching fire on yourself.

    It’s no point to shed crocodile tears for all the dead native Americans and all the dead Australian aborigines. Nothing will bring them back.

    Unfortunately there are no more pure or un-deculturalized natives to fight for the return of their ancestral lands.

    Fortunately for the Tibetans, the Chinese did not massacre and anihilate them.

    The British imperialist/colonialist in India took advantage of turmoil in China after the nationalist revolution in 1911 to instigate and to engineer Tibet’s “independence” in 1913. China did not recognise that.

    After the second World War and the civil war China re-claimed back Tibet as part of its territory.

    I’m all for free speech.

    If IOC allow China to host the Olympics, they have the right to do that of their own free will.

  6. Marvelous letter! My entire family will NOT watch the Olympics, nor will we patronize any of the advertisers who support them. The games NEVER should have been given to China; who really believed that China would do anything except what it pleased? China respects no one and nothing except its own repressive and hateful ideology. Shame on M. Rogge, and all the committee members.

  7. Charlie,

    If you are all for free speech, you’ve backed a losing horse in China.

    And the IOC is meant to be a representative body tasked with handling the affairs of the Olympic Games. As such, it is not a matter of the IOC exercising “their” free will, but it becomes a matter of a representative body which has made questionable decisions in the course of discharging that duty which they are now being criticized for, rightly so as far as I am concerned.

    The games are dedicated to non-violence, peace, and international community. Three areas where the Chinese government has a demonstrated and proven lack. The “territorial claims” of China could be pressed pretty far on all sides, depending on which era of history you want to view. The Tibetan people were even willing to accept Chinese rule so long as the culture of Tibet including its religion could be maintained. This attempt at peaceful unification was dismissed and resulted in a military invasion over a point of state-ist dogma.

    And now, in the 21st century, China continues to use repressive, violent tactics to suppress and squelch voices of political dissent. Even if we don’t “Free” Tibet, free speech in Tibet and freedom to establish dissident political parties with separatist agendas, to try and work within the political framework… giving official voice and status to the disenfranchised, actually being willing to consider their complaints and issues in a manner of tolerance and negotiation… these are the markings of civilization in the 21st century, and it is these qualities that the world demands from those nations who wish to be given the respect they feel they deserve.

    On to the Native American comments:
    Personally, I find your suggestions of “purity” to be offensive and quite scary. But by the same logical token, if the current Native Americans are not “pure” enough culturally to take back their lands, then we modern US citizens aren’t “pure” enough culturally to be forced to carry the guilt. I assure you, *my* upbringing and education was radically different from those who believed that the role of the US as the leaders of the entire world was ordained by God, and you should be glad of that fact. Because if that were still the case today, then I could simply point to Manifest Destiny and my status as an American and say, “Hey, it doesn’t matter what the Chinese think in this matter, I’m an American and God appointed us rulers of the world, so you’re just going to have to toe the line.”

    And hey… let’s put this into perspective. George W. Bush, warmongering president extraordinaire, has sent diplomatic overtures to Beijing urging the Chinese to enter into dialogue with the dissidents, as well as the Dalai Lama, to seek a peaceful solution. And let me tell you, if __BUSH__ is advocating diplomacy to a situation which could be solved through violence, then you *know* you’ve crossed a line.

    C’mon. Seriously. Whether you believe in Free Tibet or not, the IOC flubbed up and flubbed up *big* when they agreed to let Beijing host the Olympics. The heat is on, and we’ve still got months to go before the games. This isn’t over yet by a long shot, and when the smoke clears, I think China will show themselves to be the human rights horrors and backward-thinking bullies that the free world still suspects they are.

  8. dear Mr Pacio,

    I had wanted to point out that Western societies can make colossal and grave crimes against humanity, in the past, the present, as well as into the future. No doubt about that.

    That doesn’t mean other cultures are perfect either.

    At least other great cultures in the world do not pretend they have an exclusive monopoly of wisdom and the cultural arrogance and the bigotry to tell others that they have to submit to the likes and dislikes of western cultural values and idiosyncrasies, not to mention their biased and skewed ideologies.

    I for one do not have to agree with all the baloney and hot air of yours.

    I for one will stand up to say that I agree with the IOC’s wise decision.

  9. Charlie’s opinion seems to be shared by many Chinese commentators–at least those given a voice by the Chinese government. Given China’s repression of access to venues of free expression, it’s difficult to know how representative this perspective is. Moreover, restrictions on reporters in Tibet mean that the average citizen of the PRC, and really of anywhere else, is unable to get any sort of balanced picture of what is happening today in Tibet.

    Charlie: It appears you misunderstand the concept of hypocrisy. It would be hypocritical to say that the near eradication of indigenous populations in the Americas was a just and fair action, and then condemn the Chinese government for restricting the rights of modern Tibetans. I think you will find very few people who would do that. If your argument is that modern China is just as good as Western Colonialists of the past and present, that really doesn’t say anything favorable about the country or the culture of China.

    It is entirely logically consistent to condemn the Chinese government, and the IOC for complicity, when they fail to adhere to the universal strictures of human rights.

    If the next Olympics were to be held in the US, where I live, and protesters condemned my own country for violating human rights (in particular detaining prisoners and torturing people), I would support such protests, and likely participate in them. China’s continued unwillingness to acknowledge basic human rights, not just in Tibet but throughout the PRC, makes it a bad global citizen, and frankly unworthy of hosting the Games because of it.

  10. Alex H:

    You see what I mean?
    You western people, assumed that I am a PRC Chinese, and you patronized me ! Sheer brazen arrogance.

    For your information, I am not a PRC national.

    Quite contrary to what you imagine, PRC Chinese I met and know today are not at all repressed and they are quite vocal and do not need to look over their backs when they speak. They certainly do not need to be “given a voice” by the Chinese government. This a very common misconception often perpetrated and perpetuated by the biased western media.

    I just returned home from a two-week holiday in China. I suggest you go there for the Olympic Games and find that out for yourself. I had plans to go to Tibet next time, but for the unrest there.

    It seems most western people are the ones with unbalanced picture because they refuse to find out diverse opinions and facts from non-western sources and other perspectives. I read the Newsweek magazine. It ‘s full of anti-China crap every time.

    You got me wrong. What I was getting at was not hypocrisy. What I meant was western double-standards.

    How can one talk about the Tibetans’ grievances while at the same time ignoring the plight of the American Indians. Do you people have a conscience? I don’t even want to talk about the Iraqis.

    You are being presumptive, Alex. China today is definitely better than Western Colonialists of the past. That doesn’t mean China has no faults, or that it has made no mistakes.

    The western media likes to demonize China unfairly and they exagerate, whether it is trade, its currency, its military spending, etc. China today has vastly improved a lot in many ways compared with just ten or twenty years ago, and with reform it will changed for the better, not necessarily the way the west wants it to go.

    The western media is often biased. During the recent riots in Tibet, the western media reported about 20 deaths in Lhasa. Western governments were quick to condemn the Chinese authorities for the violence. The fact was that all the dead were innocent passers-by and shopkeepers who were hacked to death, clobbered with cobberstones, or else stores set on fire. And almost all the victims were Chinese. The murderers and rioters were Tibetan monks and civilians, some armed with axes, machettes, knives and fire. The Chinese authorities were even warned not to crack down on these criminal mobs and to treat them kindly.

    Tibet is no paradise lost. It’s a myth perpetrated by the Hollywood crowd. Before it was reclaimed by China in 1950, it was ruled by the feudalistic lama theocracy. Ordinary Tibetans were serfs and slaves with no rights and no freedom. Today by and large most Tibetans enjoy better lives than at any time in history.

    Talking about Hollywood, I remember in my young days my father used to bring me to watch cowyboys and indian movies. Invariably the cowboys were the good guys and the red indians were the bad guys. I was brain-washed by the Hollywood myth. Not only in my late adulthood did I come to realise the truth.

    The Olympics is about sportsmanship and the not about politics. Sports and Politics therefore should not mix. If you mix each and every issue up, everything in the world will all end up in a tangled mess and nobody will be able to fix it, and you end up in a gridlock every time.

  11. Charlie,

    This isn’t about the Native Americans. It isn’t really about Tibet directly… just that Tibet is the most visible and most recent example of the Chinese government’s continued flagrant disregard for fundamental human rights.

    This is about the IOC needing to make it clear that the IOC does not support China’s position on human rights, or risk sullying their reputation by being associated as supporters of the current host country for this year’s summer Olympics.

    China *is* guilty of tremendous ongoing human rights violations. While the US has mistreated Native Americans, a Native American who stands up in a public square and denounces the horrible treatment of the Natives at the hands of the US government will *NOT* be made to ‘disappear’, she will *NOT* be beaten by the police, or subjected to torture for the simple act of speaking her mind.

    If a tribal group were to stand up in a public park and hold a demonstration to raise awareness for their Native rights, they would not be herded up and sent to prison. If they wore traditional Native dress and went to classes at a public university, they would not be forced to change clothing or go home.

    Until recently, the US did not condone torture. Our law put great stock in the notion of Habeas Corpus, and the idea of Due Process of Law. Recently, our Constitution has been under attack, but we are working to correct the errors from our recent past.

    The IOC must either condemn China’s disregard for human rights, or else be tarred by the same brush.

    *shrug* I have said my peace. If it becomes within my power to influence the IOC’s handling of this matter in a reasonable manner, I will certainly do so.

  12. dear Mr Pacio,

    At last you agree IOC and Olympics is not about Native Americans nor about Tibetans directly. Let Olympic Games be

    about Sports. It’s not IOC’s business to meddle in somebody else’s business. Let the athletes and sports-man and -women

    as well as the officials have their glorious event. Lets not drag them through the mud and spoil it all for them. They

    have invested years of sweat and tears for their day in the sun.

    While I am not an apologist for China’s human rights record, I would like to say that many countries also don’t stand

    up to close scrutiny. Many countries also have on-going human rights violations, including the USA. Let’s not have

    double-standards here, and just pick on China, just because it happens to hosts the coming summer Olympics.

    What happens if China sent its horde of civilian supporters to every Olympic torch relay venue to confront any

    anti-China demonstration? What happens if anti-USA demontrators riot at every award holding ceremony won by the USA?

    What happens if Islamist terrorists stage an attack against USA and Israeli athletes before and during the games? you

    can go on and on. There are so many conflicts going on in the world today in the name of whatever causes you care to

    name.

    Governance and human rights standards around the world vary greatly. While China has a lot to do to improve, it does

    not deserve to be condemned at every turn. It just opened up to the outside world not so long ago. Look, the USA too

    has a bad human rights record up till the 1960’s. Even today we often see human rights violations committed in the USA.

    THe recent riotng in Tibet and elsewhere were planned by pro-Tibet activists to coincide with the beginning of the

    Olympic torch relay to exact maximum impact to spoil and sabotage the games and to humiliate China. It was too well

    timed, too well orchestrated, organized, coordinated and executed all round the world to be spontaneous. It is not

    clear who is mastermind behind the plot. The plot has cause unnecessary lost of innocent lives and property damage to

    its victims. If this sort of thing happened in a western country, it would have been called an outrage.

    The IOC cannot condemn China without also condemning dozens of countries, including the USA, participating in the

    Olympics Games for human rights or human wrongs. So IOC please stay out of polics. It’s not in your terms of reference

    to do so. So stay clean, don’t get tarred in the dirty business of human rights politics.

    I’ve also said my piece.

  13. The IOC *must* condemn China, because China is where the games are currently being held. In 2001 the controversial decision to give China a try at this was made. The IOC set down a number of conditions for awarding the games to Beijing, and the human rights questions were part of the conditions that needed to be cleared before the games.

    China has not done so. Instead of showing itself as even aspiring to conscionable human rights, it remains an adolescent country which is so afraid of being criticized that it censors all incoming and outgoing information. It is a nation which is so absolutely convinced of its own blamelessness that instead of realizing that international scrutiny and criticism comes as part of the whole package when you host the Olympics, they pout and throw the diplomatic equivalent of temper tantrums, trying to turn any questions raised around so that the subject on the table becomes the perceived faults of those who dare to question China’s unquestioned human rights abuses.

    Yes, Charlie. There are many countries which have things they need to answer for. And right now, the country which everyone is paying attention to happens to be China. Why? Because China is hosting the Olympics, which is the national equivalent of inviting every country over for dinner. And then China has the diplomatic audacity to do the equivalent of beat its children (or worse) in front of the guests, and then has the gall to act offended when the guests speak out about the flagrant abuse just perpetuated.

    If China wants to be accepted by the West, it’s going to have to learn to adopt the earmarks of a “civilized” legal and social structure, one of the historical legacies of China that the People’s Revolution apparently threw out as worthless. Rule one is that you don’t get to kill, torture, beat, main, imprison, or otherwise harshly punish folks who dare to dissent with the official “party line”. Rule two is that you cannot censor the information coming into or out of your country and then wonder why the rest of the world finds your citizens woefully out of touch with reality.

    The protests in Tibet were perfectly timed to coincide with one of the most precious commodities in the modern world… attention. Tibet made a perfectly logical decision to capitalize on the international focus of attention to make a cry out to the rest of the world that all was not well in Tibet, despite party-line propaganda from China. Sympathizers took up that call and stood up to carry the message forward into places where China’s bully-boys couldn’t reach them, which is not only smart, it’s inspired.

    Why China? Because China wanted to host the Olympics. You can cling to the notion that the Olympics has nothing to do with politics, or even that sports in general have nothing to do with politics, but that view is in fact extremely naive in the face of the history of the Olympic Games alone. More so in modern times, when Audience Attention is recognized for the exploitable resource it is.

    China is in the hot seat because China bid for hosting the Olympics. And now they are getting the international attention they asked for, but China is swiftly learning that they have no control over where the world is focusing its attention.

    Whether it be for the Free Tibet cause, the disappeared Falun Gong members, even over the harsh treatment of the student motivators of Tiannamen Square from 20 years ago, China has a horrendous human rights record, a human rights record that you do not quesion.

    If we ignore that human rights record, including the current examples of how China continues to bully its own political dissidents into silence, prison, or death, then we are guilty by association, accessories to these crimes. This is why the IOC needs to make a statement. This is why countries of conscience need to at least give voice to their objections through some action, perhaps refusing to attend or broadcast the opening and closing ceremonies. This allows the athletes who are in their prime and have devoted years of training to make it to competition to have their day, but to make it understood that nations of the world are still upset with China’s inability to conduct its internal affairs with respect for basic human rights and dignity.

    Why China? Because China literally asked for it, Charlie. They asked for this level of attention when they put in a bid to host the Games. And now they are getting exactly the sort of attention which accompanies that.

    No hypocrisy here. When the Games are next in the United States, unless the human rights abuses perpetuated now in Guantanamo Bay and the horror of “legalized torture” have ended, I will be speaking out and asking the IOC once again to condemn the human rights abuses of the home country. And yes, I will protest if the Torch passes within my region of the US.

    Human rights are important to me as an issue. We are in the 21st century and still, the world political machines struggle to adhere to the concepts that everyone is entitled to the same rights, and they include freedom of expression, freedom of dissent, due process of law, protection of human rights within that law, and freedom of access to uncensored sources of information.

    We’ll get there. One uphill battle at a time. And right now, it’s China’s turn, because China volunteered.
    -Adam

  14. dear Mr Pacio,

    I think you’re doing the baloney dance again. Please don’t put words into my mouth about China’s human rights record. I said many countries uncluding the USA should be chastised for its human rights record too.

  15. The Western imperialist colonialist countries who now presumptuously called themselves “THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY” should listen to a thoughtful and conscientious member of their own kind, IOC President Jacques Rogge.

    Read more what he has to say to them:

    http://www.news24.com/News24/Sport/More_Sport/0,,2-9-32_2312675,00.html

    Lay off China, says IOC chief
    26/04/2008 12:11 – (SA)

    London – IOC president Jacques Rogge told Western countries to stop hectoring China over human rights in the run-up to the 2008 Beijing Games, in an interview with a British newspaper published on Saturday.

    “We owe China to give them time,” the International Olympics Committee boss told the Financial Times.

    The Olympic torch relay in the run-up to the August 8-24 Games has been met with protests in cities across the globe over China’s actions in Tibet and human rights record.

    Rogge said that while he understood the strength of feeling in the West, expectations of how quickly China can change were overblown.

    “It took us 200 years to evolve from the French Revolution. China started in 1949,” the 65-year-old Belgian told the FT business daily.

    “We all know that there were abuses under Mao and the Cultural Revolution was not a nice period. But gradually, steadily, over 60 years, they evolved, and they were able to introduce a lot of changes.”

    In 1949, Britain, France, Belgium and Portugal came “with all the abuse attached to colonial powers. It was only 40 years ago that we gave liberty to the colonies. Let’s be a little bit more modest”.

    But Rogge said protests were the wrong way to convince Beijing to change its ways.

    “You don’t obtain anything in China with a loud voice,” Rogge said.

    “That is the big mistake of people in the West wanting to add their views. To keep face is of paramount importance. All the Chinese specialists will tell you that only one thing works – respectful, quiet, firm discussion.

    “Otherwise the Chinese will close themselves. That is what is happening today. There is a lot of protest, a lot of very strong verbal power, and the Chinese, they close themselves.”

    Rogge said the IOC always thought handing the 2008 Olympics to Beijing would “open up China”, and that in time this would happen.

    “The Games, we believe, over time, will have a good influence on social evolution in China, and the Chinese admit it themselves,” he said.

    “I wonder if Tibet would be front page today were it not that the Games are being organised in Beijing. It would probably be page four or five,” he said.

    “We have been able to achieve something. I am not quite sure that heads of government have achieved much more than we have done.”

    He said the political landscape of South Korea had been transformed by the 1988 Games in Seoul.

    “There will never be a solution whereby the political world or the pressure groups will not try to leverage the Games,” he added.

    “You cannot stop that because of the prestige of the Games and what they represent for mankind.”

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