Delegates ask Canada to protect human rights during Olympics

Laura Robinson, a Toronto-based writer and journalist, "got the Play the Game meeting to endorse what has been termed the Coventry Declaration that decries the recent series of police visits to activists in Vancouver," writes Chris Shaw from the UK. "Having a major organization like this take a principled stand is a huge thing." Here's the story.

by Chris Shaw
The Coventry Declaration was approved by conference delegates at Play the Game 2009, the sixth world communications conference on sport and society.

The declaration calls upon the Canadian Government and Olympic authorities to state their commitment to ensuring all Canadians and those visiting Canada will have their fundamental right to security of the person and freedom of expression protected as guaranteed by Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Declaration text in full

The expression of ideas through the written or spoken word is fundamental to democracy and the rights of all individuals and groups. The right to express one’s self through words is a pillar of a civil and democratic society.

During the first week of June 2009, author Chris Shaw was confronted by two police officers in the city of Vancouver where the 2010 Winter Olympics will be held.

The police told him they wanted to talk to him about his book, “Five Ring Circus”, a critical analysis of the Vancouver Games.

They persisted to question him over a period of time.

During the first week of June, a number of individuals who had questioned the Olympic Games were visited by police officers in their homes, workplaces or while going about their business.

Play the Game condemns, in the strongest manner possible, any action in Canada that in any way, shape, or form harasses, intimidates, or threatens any writers or individuals who express ideas through words.

Play the Game is asking the city of Vancouver, the province of British Columbia, the Canadian government, VANOC, and the Vancouver Integrated Security Unit, to state in unequivocal language, that all Canadians and those who visit Canada, will have their fundamental right to:

Security of the person
Freedom of expression protected, respected and unimpinged as Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees.

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