Olympians Invited to Adopt China’s Prisoners of Conscience

BEIJING (RUSHPRNEWS) AUGUST 9,2008--As the 2008 Olympic Games are beginning in Beijing today, Olympic athletes are being asked to adopt China’s prisoners of conscience. Among other cases, Olympic Watch is now calling on the Chinese team to speak out on behalf of their compatriot Ye Guozhu, imprisoned for peaceful criticism of the pre-Olympic evictions in Beijing.

Other cases include Shi Tao, recommended to the US Olympic team, Huang Jinqiu, recommended to Australian athletes and officials, and Hu Jia, recommended to French Olympians. As Olympic Watch Chairman Jan Ruml said, the appeal is to give athletes a peaceful and respectful option to express support to human rights of the people of China. “It is important for prisoners of conscience to know that the world has not forgotten about them,” said Ruml, himself a former prisoner of conscience in communist Czechoslovakia.

The Adopt2008.org appeal is a follow-up to last week’s open letter signed by Czech ex-president Vaclav Havel, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Desmond Tutu and Chinese exile activist Wei Jingsheng, calling on Olympians to freely express themselves in support of human rights in China.

The campaigners are asking national Olympic teams to each adopt a Chinese prisoner of conscience or human rights defender and find an appropriate way to express their support. Among suggested actions are inquiring about the case, visiting the persecuted person in prison, and public dedication of Olympic medals.

The campaign will continue to present additional during the opening of the Games. More information is available at www.adopt2008.org.

Olympic Watch is a human rights organization set up in Prague in 2001 in response to the decision to grant the 2008 Olympics to Beijing. It has campaigned to help keep the Chinese government accountable for the public pledges its officials made in 2001 regarding human rights improvements, including “complete media freedom”. Its website is at www.olympicwatch.org.

Media contact: Petr Kutilek, press@olympicwatch.org, +420 608 560 503.

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