Dictators to attend Olympic Opening Ceremony

Issue arrest warrants, not VIP invitations

London – 26 July 2012


Blood-stained dictators will attend Friday’s Olympic Opening Ceremony and, earlier, a reception at Buckingham Palace hosted by the Queen.

They will be feted as honoured guests by the UK government, the International Olympic Committee and the London Olympic organisers.

Among those attending – barring any last minute cancellations – are Prince Nasser Al Khalifa of Bahrain, President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan and President Paul Kagame of Rwanda. All three stand accused of grave human rights abuses. They deny the allegations.

“They should be issued with arrest warrants for human rights abuses, not feted with VIP invitations to Buckingham Palace and the Opening Ceremony,” said Peter Tatchell, Director of the human rights advocacy organisation, the Peter Tatchell Foundation.

“Those feted include leaders or other state representatives from the tyrannies of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, China, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Sudan, Uzbekistan, Rwanda and Swaziland.

“It is feared that many other leaders from repressive regimes will attend the Opening Ceremony, as the Foreign Office and London 2012 organisers are refusing to disclose the invitation list. If they have nothing to hide, why are they being so secretive?” queried Mr Tatchell.

“It goes against the principles, values and spirit of the Olympic Charter for the Queen, UK government and London Olympic organisers to fete these tyrants and torturers.

The Olympic Charter – Fundamental Principles of Olympism

1. Olympism seeks….respect for universal fundamental ethical principles.
2. The goal of Olympism is to place sport at the service of the harmonious development
of humankind, with a view to promoting a peaceful society concerned with the
preservation of human dignity.

“Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa, the President of the Bahraini Olympic Committee and eldest son of King of Bahrain, will attend the Olympic Opening Ceremony, despite accusations of serious human rights abuses, including against Bahraini athletes. He denies the allegations,” added Mr Tatchell.

“Documents submitted to David Cameron and William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, describe how Nasser was reportedly involved in the abuse of Bahraini athletes who had demonstrated their support for the country’s pro-democracy movement,” he said.

“Following his directives more than 150 professional athletes, coaches and referees were subjected to arbitrary arrests, night raids, detention, abuse and torture by electric cables and other means,” alleges the Berlin-based European Centre for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR).
See here:

“The regime of President Paul Kagame of Rwanda has been accused of the murder and imprisonment of dissidents, including journalists and political oppositionists, and is implicated in the genocide in the Congo. His government’s abuses have been condemned by both Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch,” reports Mr Tatchell.
See here:
and here:

“President Ilham Aliyev’s repressive regime in Azerbaijan restricts religious and media freedom, suppresses peaceful protests, tortures political prisoners and jails journalists and opposition activists on trumped up charges,” said Mr Tatchell.

Read these case studies of Azerbaijani government repression documented by the Campaign for Free Expression in Azerbaijan:

See these reports from Amnesty International http://goo.gl/U6QtJ and from Human Rights Watch here: http://goo.gl/aDwlp and here: http://www.hrw.org/en/node/87607

For further information:

Peter Tatchell, Director, Peter Tatchell Foundation
Email: [email protected]
Web: www.PeterTatchellFoundation.org