180 Human Rights Groups Call For Boycott Of Beijing Winter Olympics Over Abuses Of Ethnic Minorities

(Photo by BULENT KILIC/AFP via Getty Images)

Marlo Safi Culture Reporter
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A coalition of 180 human rights groups called for a boycott of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, citing Chinese government abuses of ethnic minorities, the Associated Press reported Wednesday.

The coalition, made up of advocates representing Tibetans, Uighurs, Inner Mongolians, residents of Hong Kong and others called on governments to boycott the games, which are scheduled to take place Feb. 4 of 2022. 

“President Xi Jingping has unleashed an unrelenting crackdown on basic freedom and human rights,” the letter to world leaders says. The letter points to examples of human rights abuses and political persecution in Tibet, Xinjiang, Hong Kong, and southern Mongolia. It also notes Beijing’s hostility toward Taiwan.

Graffiti relating to Xinjiang and Tibet is seen on the pavement during a rally in Hong Kong on Dec. 22, 2019 to show support for the Uighur minority in China. (Photo by ANTHONY WALLACE/AFP via Getty Images)

“The situation in occupied Tibet has dramatically deteriorated and has been transformed into a surveillance state with over 1,000 political prisoners facing torture and even death,” the letter says. “In East Turkistan (Ch: Xinjiang) between 1.8 and three million Uyghurs and other Turkic peoples are arbitrarily detained in ‘re-education camps,’ enduring inhuman treatment and political indoctrination.”

The coalition of human rights groups previously demanded in September that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) “reverse its mistake in awarding Beijing the honor of hosting the Winter Olympic Games in 2022.”

The coalition noted that allowing China to host the Olympics in 2008 has not led to improved conditions in China. At that time, the IOC argued the event would do precisely that. An IOC official previously told the AP that “awarding the Olympic Games to a national Olympic committee does not mean that the IOC agrees with the political structure, social circumstances, or human rights standards in the country.”

The U.S. became the first country in the world to formally declare that China is committing a genocide against its Uighur minority in Xinjiang. As one of the final acts of the Trump administration, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo condemned the Chinese government for its lack of religious freedom and use of arbitrary detention and torture. 

Pompeo’s successor in the Biden administration, Antony Blinken, indicated support for the designation soon after it was made. “My judgement remains that genocide was committed against — against the [Uighurs] and that — that hasn’t changed,” he said during a press conference. 

This photo taken on June 2, 2019 shows buildings at the Artux City Vocational Skills Education Training Service Center, believed to be a re-education camp where mostly Muslim ethnic minorities are detained, north of Kashgar in China’s northwestern Xinjiang region. (GREG BAKER/AFP via Getty Images)

Multiple reports have claimed that Uighurs have been forced to work at factories where they undergo re-education in order to pledge their allegiance to the Chinese government. Some estimates show that between 900,000 and 1.8 million Muslims have been detained in more than 1,300 concentration camps in Xinjiang as part of China’s effort to sinicize its population. (RELATED: ‘A Regime That Fears Religion’: New Report Details China’s Crackdown On Religion)

An AP investigation reported that the Chinese government has also sought to drastically lower the birth rates of Uighurs and other minorities through forced abortions, birth control, mass detentions and imprisonment.

KASHGAR, CHINA – JUNE 28: An ethnic Uyghur woman walks with her children on June 28, 2017 in the old town of Kashgar, in the far western Xinjiang province, China. (Photo by Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)

The Chinese government claims Uighurs are involved in terrorist activities, and that the camps are intended to benefit workers with “education and vocational training” in order to counter terrorism.

“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 continues. “We therefore call on governments to boycott the Beijing 2022 Olympics — anything less will be seen as an endorsement of the Chinese Communist Party’s authoritarian rule and blatant disregard for civil and human rights.”