Orange: color of the Dutch and protest?

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Orange, the favored color of Dutch sports fans, should be used by visitors to the Olympics as the color of protest, according to a Danish political activist.

Netherlands fans wait for the Group C World Cup 2006 soccer match between the Netherlands and Serbia and Montenegro in Leipzig June 11, 2006. REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay

Orange is also worn by monks in Tibet, in addition to their burgundy robes, and has been used in Ukraine and Kenya as a sign of political change.

That makes it an ideal color to protest against China’s human rights policies at the Beijing Olympics in August, says Danish sculptor Jens Galschiot.

“We want to encourage people to use orange as a symbol of human rights abuse in China,” Galschiot said.

“China can’t ban the color, it’s not able to ban it.”

Fearing that the Games may become a stage for protests after the military crackdown in Tibet and disruption of the Olympic torch relay, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has issued guidelines to National Olympic Committees that their athletes should refrain from political statements.

The color orange is intertwined with the Netherlands’ royal House of Orange-Nassau, stretching back to the 16th century when William I, Prince of Orange, led a Dutch revolt against the Spanish that eventually resulted in independence.

“Orange is the color of the royal family and of sports in the Netherlands,” said Erwin te Bokkel, spokesman for the Dutch Olympic Committee. “Everyone knows about the color, there’s no concern there will be a misunderstanding.”

Amnesty International voiced concern about promoting the use of a color as a protest vehicle because it could be banned.

“It’s better to keep focus on the issues, rather than the delivery methods,” said Amnesty spokesman Robert Godden.

The Dutch flag includes three horizontal stripes of red, white and blue that are also featured on sport uniforms, but no orange.

Bokkel would not discuss the uniforms to be worn by Dutch athletes at the August 8 opening ceremony but said: “You can expect that the color orange will be used in our national team colors.”

Editing by Robert Woodward