Pro-Uyghur activists are calling governments around the world to boycott the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics.
One year ahead of the opening ceremony on February 4, 2022, a coalition of Uyghur, Tibetan, Southern Mongolian, Hong Kong, Taiwanese, Chinese Democracy, and human rights campaign groups issued an open letter to governments warning they must support a diplomatic boycott of the Games or risk emboldening China’s appalling rights abuses.
The joint letter, signed by 180+ global campaign groups and associations, outlines how the prestige of hosting the 2008 Olympic Games has “merely emboldened the Chinese government’s actions” and led to “a gross increase on the assault on communities living under its rule.”
In East Turkistan (Xinjiang) between 1.8 and three million Uyghurs and other Turkic peoples are being arbitrarily detained in “re-education camps,” enduring inhuman treatment and political indoctrination, according to rights groups.
For two decades representatives of the coalition say they have repeatedly sought to inform the International Olympic Committee about these conditions, explain the dangers of awarding China the Olympic Games, and caution against accepting any human rights assurances from one of the “world’s worst human rights violators.”
They say the International Olympic Committee has failed to take action despite clear evidence of genocide so “it now falls on governments to take a stand and demonstrate that they have the political will to push back against China’s reprehensible human rights abuses.”
Zumretay Arkin of the World Uyghur Congress, which is funded by the United States, said: “The Winter Games 2022 being awarded to China was a slap on the face of every Uyghur, Tibetan, Southern Mongolian, Hong Konger, Taiwanese, and Chinese democracy activists. Our sufferings were completely dismissed by the IOC. It’s now up to the governments to act on it, and show some decent humanity by boycotting a genocide Olympics.’’
Dorjee Tseten of Students for a Free Tibet said: “Hosting the games in a country committing genocide, ethnic cleansing, and occupation is akin to endorsing these crimes. It is unfortunate that history is repeating what happened 82 years ago with the Nazi Olympics in 1936: hosting the Games in Berlin helped legitimize Hitler’s genocide against the Jewish people and bolstered the Nazi regime. Governments and the international community must boycott the Beijing 2022 Games and take a stand to uphold the values of democracy, freedom, and human rights.”
And Teng Biao of China Against the Death Penalty said: “To give the honour of hosting the Olympic Games not once, but twice, to a dictatorial regime that is committing genocide and assaulting human dignity would bring immense disgrace to the Olympic movement and display a total contempt for human rights.”
China has brushed off the criticisms as interference in its internal affairs and politicisation of sports. It has reacted strongly to charges of genocide. One Chinese official called it the “lie of the century.”