Olympics and the right to protest

Back in November I wrote about the importance of allowing protests around the Olympics:

Glad to see that Chris Huhne has made it quite clear in a news release that when the show comes to town in the form of the Olympics, the right to peaceful protest must be upheld:

The Olympics are a chance to put our values in the global showcase which is why the organisers should plan for and allow the right of peaceful protest, which is such an important part of our political tradition. It will not be on display at the Beijing Olympics.

Diversity and freedom of expression is what has always made our society strong, and we should not be afraid to show it.

And I suspect given the number of countries competing whose human rights record may not be quite what we would wish – there will be quite a number of protesters wishing to protest. A good thing too. As a country – we should be proud that peaceful protest is one of our guarantees of freedom of expression.

So – it was good to read that Nick Clegg’s taking this line too:

Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg has accused British Olympic chiefs of a “real abdication of our moral responsibility” over moves to restrict athletes from speaking out about China’s human rights record.

A new clause in the contract Olympians must sign before competing in Beijing this year forbids them from making political comments about the host country.

Clegg told BBC1’s Politics Show: “It’s extremely disappointing. It’s part of a pattern of us kow-towing to the Chinese communist authorities.

“We have to be very clear with the Chinese: They now play a significant role in the world economy and international affairs.

“That brings certain domestic responsibilities with it and I think for us to sort of gag ourselves is a real abdication of our moral responsibility to push for human rights wherever they are being abused.”

Referring to the prime minister’s recent visit to China, Clegg said: “Unlike Tony Blair and certainly unlike President Sarkozy from France, Chancellor Merkel from Germany and even President Bush from the United States, he said nothing publicly on China’s appalling human rights record.”

0 thoughts on “Olympics and the right to protest

  1. The Chinese occupation of Tibet is appalling, subjecting an entire population of people to a form of repressive behaviour that is totally unacceptable. I fully support the determination of the Tibetan people, especially in their quest for sovereignty. They should kick the Chinese out of Tibet and ultimately, they ought to fight the Chinese for their basic human rights. The Dalai Lama, in all due respect for the man, is unable to control the younger and more radical Tibetan youth, whom seek to resolve the conflict with China through violence. I think this is their only option left.

  2. And the response was… Fairly quickly after the story broke I heard on BBC R4 that their was no intention to stop athletes speaking out – they are to agree not to take part in demonstrations and political gatherings. Not long after that it was admitted that the wording of the contract (said to be 20 years old) was flawed and that it would be rewritten. But is that the real story of this gaff?