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On International Olympic Day, calls for boycott of Beijing 2022 Games grow stronger

Free Tibet, a non-profit NGO campaigning for Tibetan human rights, took part in a banner drop at Westminster Bridge on Wednesday, calling for a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics (Image courtesy: Twitter/@freetibetorg)

As the world celebrates the International Olympic Day today, thousands of Tibetan, Uyghur, Southern Mongolian, Hongkonger, Taiwanese, and Chinese people around the globe have called on world leaders, National Olympic Committees, Olympic sponsors and "all people of conscience" to boycott the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics.

Calling it ‘The Genocide Games’, several global rights groups are holding protests on 'Global Day of Action' from Canada to New Zealand, Japan to Argentina and Australia, standing in solidarity to deliver the joint message that China must not be allowed to use Beijing 2022 to "sport-wash" the human rights violations against the Uyghur people in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.

The global coalition of Uyghurs, Tibetans, Hongkongers and others are also highlighting "the severe and escalating repression" in Tibet, Southern Mongolia, Hong Kong, and China proper, and "the geopolitical bullying" of Taiwan.

Boycott Beijing Olympics

"Olympic Day is supposed to be a day to celebrate diversity, peace, friendship and respect, but China, the next Winter Games hosts, carrying out a genocide against Uyghurs and serious crimes against Tibetans, Mongolians, Hongkongers and others, there is no room for celebration," said Dolkun Isa, President of the World Uyghur Congress.

Support for a boycott of Beijing 2022 has grown exponentially since activists released a joint letter to governments in September 2020. They say that Parliaments and elected representatives from across the political divide now agree that supporting the Beijing 2022 Olympics is tantamount to endorsing China’s human rights abuses.

Also Read: Calls for boycott of Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games grow stronger

Frances Hui from 'We The Hongkongers' says that the activists are are gathering around the world on the International Olympic Day to call on the International Olympic Council (IOC), world governments, athletes, sponsors, and all concerned citizens to "do the right thing" and boycott next year’s event.

"Anything less than outright opposition to Beijing 2022 – which will be staged against a horrific backdrop of genocide and crimes against humanity – will forever stain the olympic movement and our collective conscience," said Frances.

Human rights experts warned that the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympic Games led to a further crackdown on human rights and took place without any meaningful human rights due diligence. They say that contrary to China’s commitment to hold a 'free and open' Olympic Games in 2008, Beijing continued to clamp down on the international media, and quashed all freedom of expression for Tibetans wishing to voice their opinions about the Games.

"We have no choice but to call for a boycott of Beijing 2022 because we are witnessing one of the worst human rights crises of our time and the IOC has completely failed to respond. How can we stand aside and allow China to parade its propaganda in front of the world while behind the pomp and ceremony there is a genocide being carried out? Surely that is a red line that we all know must not be crossed," remarked Pema Doma from Students for a Free Tibet.

Boycott Beijing Olympics

A 'No Beijing 2022' event in Sydney calling on the Australian Government to boycott the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics (Image courtesy: Twitter/@TibetCouncil)

They reminded everyone that the US State Department, the United Kingdom, Canadian and Dutch parliaments, and international legal experts have recognized China’s atrocities in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region as a 'genocide'.

Rushan Abbas from Campaign For Uyghurs says that ending support for the Chinese government's human rights abuses is a "no brainer" and boycotting Beijing 2022 is "a necessity" to stop China simply "sportswashing" away the Uyghur genocide and crimes against humanity.  

The global campaign groups are also taking on sponsors for the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics.

In April, in a joint open letter to Snickers, the International Tibet Network, raised "serious concerns" that Mars Wrigley's brand Snickers have signed on as official sponsor for the Beijing Olympics, urging it to "carefully reconsider" the decision.

"We urge you to immediately cancel your sponsorship of the Beijing 2022 Olympic Games, or risk being tainted by association. By terminating this agreement, Mars Wrigley has an opportunity to send a clear message that it will not tolerate dealing with governments that profit from occupation, genocide and human rights violations and to make a real difference to the lives of those living under Beijing’s tight grip," Mandie McKeown, Executive Director, International Tibet Network, said in joint letter endorsed by 200 global campaign groups.

Similar letters have been sent to other sponsors like Airbnb, urging the companies to pull out of sponsorship deals for the Beijing Olympics.

Not just Olympics, earlier this month, a coalition of 86 human rights and religious freedom leaders and organisations asked the US Soccer Federation to end its partnership with Volkswagen, given the company's inaction in the face of ongoing atrocity crimes.

In a letter written on June 3 to the President and CEO of the United States Soccer Federation, Uyghur Human Rights Project (UHRP) said that Volkswagen continues to operate a plant in Xinjiang where the Chinese government is "conducting ongoing crimes against humanity and genocide". It said that by remaining partnered with Volkswagen, the US Soccer is taking the position that it accepts inaction in the face of ongoing atrocity crimes.

"Volkswagen has failed to address, in a transparent and credible way, its acquiescence in the implementation of these atrocity crimes, including state-imposed forced labor, forced population transfer, mass detention, religious persecution, forced sterilization and forced abortion, and similar crimes against Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslim peoples in the Xinjiang region of China," mentioned UHRP.

China, meanwhile, says that allegations of "genocide" in Xinjiang is a total rumour and lie fabricated by people with ulterior motives. The Xi Jinping government says that the real intention is to disrupt Xinjiang's social stability and contain China's development.

"China is firmly resolved to safeguard national sovereignty, security and development interests and uphold development, stability and ethnic unity in Xinjiang," Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian had said last week.