Our letter to IOC, we sent on 23.07.07
We, the members of the Organization Committee of Sochi- The Land of Genocide Campaign, strongly condemn the decision by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to select Sochi as the host city for the 2014 Winter Olympic Games.
Before IOC made its decision, every effort was made to inform the IOC of our concerns about the prospective environmental and socio-political consequences of the selection of Sochi as a host city and, in this regard, we requested them to act responsibly and decline any decisions which would cause an irreparable damage not only to the environment and human rights but also to the public image of the entire Olympic Movement.
The IOC ignored the deep concerns of us and environmentalists who are rightly concerned about the over-exploitation of the region. Yet, the Krasnaya Polyana ski area, where many events are to be held near Sochi, is an important part of nature reserve in the world heritage list of UNESCO.
Despite severe criticism and questions about human rights violations and Russian President Putin’s commitment to democracy, the IOC, through its decision, gave its seal of approval to his autocratic style of rule and imperialist motives. The granting of the Olympic host to Sochi by the IOC paved the way to cement the fragile conditions in the Caucasus where gross human rights violations, ongoing conflicts and the tightening control over free will of civil society have been prevailing for quite a long time. The IOC’s decision has meant to be an international validation of Russia’s anti-democratic and repressive acts in the region on a legitimate ground.
While trying to understand the rationale behind the IOC’s decision to select Sochi, furthermore, we could not help asking what if one of the candidates to host the Olympic Games had been Auschwitz Birkenau. Would it be of conscience and acceptable to select Auschwitz Birkenau, where 1.5 million people were systematically starved, tortured and murdered, as the Olympic host? In a similar vein, we ask how we are supposed to accept the Olympic Games to be played in Sochi and its surroundings which became a cemetery for Caucasians as a result of Russian cruelty to Caucasians during the Russo-Caucasian war in the 18-19th century. The Circassian-Ubykh nation inhabited in Sochi was almost totally massacred and more than 90% of the Caucasian population in the region was either exterminated or exiled.
Due to the above:
The decision, however well-meant and peace-oriented, is unacceptable.
The decision making process to select the host city for the 2014 Winter Olympic Games which turned into a battle of politics is far from the objectivity and ideals of the Olympic Movement.
The IOC, through its decision, apparently assumed a share of responsibility for whatever will happen in the future in the Caucasus, by showing neglect of such worldwide values as the protection of the World Heritage List and human rights as well as of its own goals and missions.
We once again underline that we condemn in the strongest terms the IOC’s decision. Committed to participatory democracy, freedoms and human rights, we will carry on our civil and democratic struggle for a stable and peaceful Caucasia.
MEMBERS OF THE ORGANIZATION COMMITTEE OF SOCHI-THE LAND OF GENOCIDE CAMPAIGN