Citing China’s brazen violation of human rights of minorities, a coalition of 180 human rights groups has urged governments across the world to boycott the Beijing Winter Olympic Games slated for next year.
The group of organizations represent minorities in China, such as Tibetans, Muslim Uighurs, Inner Mongolians and residents of Hong Kong.
The coalition has released a public letter to world governments requesting they boycott the Olympics scheduled to start one year from Thursday. The letter calls on countries to refuse participation in the games and “to ensure they are not used to embolden the Chinese government’s appalling rights abuses and crackdowns on dissent.”
The coalition said its members and other human rights advocates have “repeatedly sought to inform” the International Olympic Committee (IOC) about the reported abuses for two decades but to no avail.
“The IOC refused to listen in 2008, defending its decision with claims that they would prove to be a catalyst for improved human rights. As human rights experts predicted, this decision proved to be hugely misplaced; not only did China’s human rights record not improve but violations increased substantially without rebuke,” the letter read.
“Now, in 2021, we find ourselves back in the same position with the IOC who are refusing to act despite the clear evidence of genocide and widespread and worsening human rights failures,” it added.
“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,” the letter said adding that anything less than a boycott would “be seen as an endorsement of the Chinese Communist Party’s authoritarian rule and blatant disregard for civil and human rights.”
The IOC said in a statement that the committee’s policy for its organising committees is to hear all concerns “directly related to the Olympic Games.” For the Beijing Winter Olympics specifically, the IOC said its Evaluation Committee listened to the views of several NGOs, including concerns about human rights.
“These issues were and are raised with the government and local authorities,” the statement said. “We received assurances that the principles of the Olympic Charter will be respected in the context of the Games.”
The committee cited its position that it shared with groups that IOC “must remain neutral on all global political issues” although it may not agree “with the political structure, social circumstances or human rights standards in its country.”
Meanwhile, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin labelled the calls for boycott as “highly irresponsible”.
The calls for boycotting next year’s winter Olympics came after US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he agrees with the Donald Trump administration’s characterisation of the abuse of Uyghurs in China as a genocide.