A group of organizations officially called for a complete boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing on Monday over allegations of human rights violations against China, one day before a joint hearing is set to take place in the U.S. Congress focusing on the Games and the country’s human rights record, according to The Associated Press.
The World Uyghur Congress, Students for a Free Tibet, Campaign for Uyghurs, We the Hongkongers, Southern Mongolian Human Rights Information Center, China Against the Death Penalty and the Tibet Action Institute all joined focus to call for the boycott.
“The Chinese government is committing genocide against the Uyghur people and waging an unprecedented campaign of repression in East Turkistan, Tibet and Southern Mongolia, as well as an all-out assault on democracy in Hong Kong,” the coalition said in a statement. “At the same time, the Chinese Communist Party is engaged in a merciless crackdown on Chinese human rights defenders, activists, faith communities and journalists, and implementing an intense strategy of intimidation and geopolitical bullying against Taiwan.
“Participating in the Beijing Olympic Games at this time would be tantamount to endorsing China’s genocide against the Uyghur people and legitimizing the increasingly repressive policies of the totalitarian Chinese regime.”
'The time for talking with the IOC is over'
Calls for a boycott or removal of the Games from China have been growing in recent months, and multiple human rights groups have met with the International Olympic Committee regarding the issues.
The U.S. State Department has said that “genocide and crimes against humanity” have taken place in the Xinjiang region in Western China against Muslim Uyghurs, which is one of the largest reasons activists and others want the Games out of China. Britain’s United Nations ambassador even called it “one of the worst human rights crises of our time” at a meeting last week, per The Associated Press.
According to The New York Times, Chinese officials are “carrying out an intensified campaign of repression, putting large numbers of Uyghurs, Kazakhs and other minority groups in re-education camps.” China has also allegedly tried to control the growth of the Uyghurs population, placed children in boarding schools to “assimilate and indoctrinate them” and destroyed various mosques and shrines.
“If the games go ahead, then Beijing gets the international seal of approval for what they are doing,” Lhadon Tethong of the Tibet Action Institute told The Associated Press.
“People have worked to engage with the IOC in good faith to have them understand the issues directly from the mouths of those most impacted — the Uyghurs at the top of that list and the Tibetans and others. It’s clear the IOC is completely uninterested in what the real impacts on the ground for people are.”
The Beijing Games are set to start on Feb. 4, 2022 — about six months after the Tokyo Games wrap up this summer. Those Olympics were rescheduled from last summer due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The IOC has introduced new human rights requirements for host cities and countries, though those will not start until the 2024 Olympics in Paris.
With time running out to accomplish their goal, Tethong knows they must move quickly.
“The time for talking with the IOC is over,” Tethong told The Associated Press. “This cannot be games as usual or business as usual, not for the IOC and not for the international community.”
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