16th August 2004
Islamic Human Rights Commission
16th August 2004
In an act of protest against the Israeli government’s oppression of the Palestinian people, double world judo champion Arash Mirismaili has refused to participate in the Olympic Games after being drawn against an Israeli opponent. Olympic officials are considering ejecting him from the competition altogether, and this may affect the rest of the Iranian team competing in the Olympic Games.
Amongst other grotesque human rights violations the Israeli government is building a ‘security fence’ to restrict movement of people, much like the Berlin Wall, which will confiscate even more Palestinian land. This has led to comparisons with apartheid South Africa. Indeed, Arash’s boycott of Israel is no different to the earlier global boycott of South Africa under the apartheid regime. Seen in this light, therefore, attempts to exclude Arash, and possibly the rest of the Iranian team, are totally discriminatory, unfair, and biased towards a country whose human rights record is virtually non-existent.
Please write to the Iranian Embassy in London to send a message of support to Arash and his team-mates. Please also write to the International Judo Federation and the International Olympic Federation, to urge them to reconsider excluding Arash, and to remind them that they have a duty to uphold the values of tolerance and solidarity that the Olympics are intended to embody. Sample letters are below for your use.
UK Campaigners can send letters of support to Arash Mirismaili c/o the Iranian Embassy in the UK:
HE Mr Morteza Sarmadi
Head of Mission
Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran
16 Prince’s Gate
Letter to the International Judo Federation and the International Olympic Committee
Dear (insert name)
I am writing in regards to the refusal of double world champion Arash Mirismaili to compete against the Israeli competitor Ehud Vaks.
I am deeply concerned that those values that you supposedly share with the Olympic ideal, such as tolerance, friendship and solidarity, should be undermined by the possibility that sanctions may be imposed on Mirismaili. What he chose to do was an act of protest against the continued oppression of the Palestinian people at the hands of the Israeli government, a policy that is widely acknowledged across the world. No less a man than Nelson Mandela has condemned Israel as an apartheid state. That you should then choose to differentiate between this political boycott and others, such as the boycott of South Africa under the apartheid regime, and of Serbia in 1992 for its commission of war crimes in Bosnia, smacks of sheer hypocrisy. Further, it demeans the plight of the Palestinians and effectively legitimises the Israeli policy of apartheid.
I therefore urge you to seriously consider the implications of any action taken against Mirismaili and, indeed, the entire Iranian team. I also hope that this incident may compel you to reassess the extent to which your own values are realised in the sporting arena, so that the ideal of sportsmanship may not be used to dismiss the crimes of those countries participating.
Yong Sung Park
President of the International Judo Federation
Address : 33rd FL. Doosan Tower 18-12 Ulchiro 6Ka, Choong-Ku, Seoul, KOREA (100-730)
Tel : (82+2) 3398-1017 /1018
Fax : (82+2) 3398-1020
Vice President of the IJF (Asia)
c/o Kodokan Judo Institute
1-16-30, Kasuga 1-chome, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 112, Japan
Tel : (81 + 3) 3818-5220
Fax : (81 + 3) 3818-5009
Juan Carlos Barcos
Refereeing Director of the IJF
Address : Fuente del Hierro 2 E – 31007 Pamplona, Spain
Tel : (34+48) 25 63 50/24 66 95 / Fax : (34+48) 17 23 31
/IJF Referee Commission Member – ASIA Referee Director
Address : All Japan Judo Federation
c/o Kodokan Judo Institute -16-30, Kasuga 1-chome, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 112-0003, Japan
Tel : (81+3) 3818 5220 / Fax : (81+3) 3818 5009
Jacques Rogge (President of the IOC)
Château de Vidy
Tel: (41.21) 621 61 11
Fax: (41.21) 621 62 16