Mr Jacques Rogge
President of the International Olympic Committee
Dear Mr Rogge,
I am writing on the occasion of World Press Freedom Day to ask you to call on the Chinese authorities to fully respect the promises they made to respect freedom of expression in their preparations to host the Beijing Olympics.
The government crackdown on journalists and others who seek to exercise their right to freedom of expression has intensified in recent months. At least 30 journalists and 50 cyber-dissidents are currently held in Chinese prisons for peacefully expressing their views.
Following the recent violence, foreign journalists have been banned from Tibet since 12 March and reporters in Tibet and across China have been arrested, harassed and had video recordings confiscated. Although the government introduced new regulations in 2007 to allow greater freedom of movement and access for foreign journalists who wished to travel in the country, these regulations have never been fully respected.
Chinese journalists continue to be subject to the censorship of the Publicity Department, and the government and party continue to use authoritarian laws, including subversion, disseminating state secrets and spying, to control news and information. Self-censorship is the rule in domestic news organisations, while independent Chinese-language media based abroad are routinely blocked, harassed or jammed.
I respectfully remind you that the Organising Committee for the Beijing Olympic Games guaranteed in 2001 that foreign media would have "complete freedom to report when they come to China". Furthermore, the Committee's "Beijing Olympic Action Plan" of 2002 promises: "In the preparation for the Games, we will be open in every aspect to the rest of the country and the whole world. We will draw on the successful experience of others and follow the international standards and criteria."
In accordance with these pledges and numerous international conventions, declarations and agreements - including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights - I call on you to urge the Chinese authorities to end censorship and stop violating the right of all people to access information.
I also ask that your "silent diplomacy" becomes voluble and public if the Chinese government does not immediately release from jail all those detained for exercising their right to freedom of expression.
I look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience.