The International Olympic Committee faces fresh criticism from human rights groups who have accused it of hiding behind political neutrality to host the Beijing Winter Olympics in a country that is “actively committing genocide.”
Several representatives of the No Beijing 2022 campaign said on Friday that they had met and urged the IOC last October to provide detailed information on abuses facing Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang province, as well as in Hong Kong and Tibet. Why move the Games, but left the feeling that the IOC had “completely discarded our experiences and sufferings.”
More than a million Uyghurs are believed to be in re-education camps, and on Thursday White House press secretary Jen Psaki confirmed that “genocide against Uighur Muslims” is a topic of discussion when US officials are meet with China. directly next week.
There have been increasing calls to boycott Beijing 2022 due to human rights abuses. But Zumretay Arkin, director of programs and advocacy for the Uyghur World Congress, said the IOC had dismissed her concerns.
“When we met with the IOC in October, we asked them to listen to our voices, but instead they completely rejected our experiences and sufferings,” he said. “They conveniently guard themselves behind political neutrality when it comes to China.
“We were also repeatedly told that the mission of the IOC was to create a better world, a world without any discrimination on the grounds of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation,” he added. “A better world for us means a free and democratic world where there are no camps, no forced labor, no cultural and religious repression, no arbitrary arrests, no police brutality. A better world is a world without genocide.
“Our question was simple, does the IOC agree to host the Olympic Games in a country that is actively committing genocide? The response we received was also very simple. Yes, the IOC is willing to host genocidal Olympics. “
Frances Hui, a Hong Kong activist in exile, said she had a similar experience when she met with the IOC. “I spoke about the fact that more than 10,000 protesters in Hong Kong they were arrested in just one year, and the fact that China is violating international human rights obligations. And the first thing we hear from the IOC is: ‘It’s a very complicated world.’
“And I asked again: ‘How are they going to legitimize a Games in a country that practices genocide and murder?’ and the IOC answered me again: ‘It is a complex world’.
“Ironically, that’s the same kind of rhetoric that people in China always tell me when I mention the fact that two million Uighur workers are in the camps,” he added. “When I talk about the Tibetans having their land occupied by China, all they say is: ‘It’s complicated.’ But no, it is not complicated ”.
However, IOC President Thomas Bach insisted that one of the key principles of the Olympic charter is political neutrality, adding that the IOC is not equipped to solve all the world’s problems. “We are taking this very seriously,” he said. “But we are not a world super government in which the IOC can solve or even address issues for which the UN security council, the G7 and the G20 have no solution.
“We have to fulfill our role and live up to our responsibilities within our area of responsibilities, and governments have to live up to their responsibilities in their powers.
“Human and labor rights and others will be part of the host city contract. And in this, we are working very closely with the organizing committee that we are also monitoring. This includes, for example, supply chains or labor rights, and their freedom of the press and many other issues. “
Bach said a boycott of the Winter Olympics over human rights abuses in China would not work. “We can only repeat and give advice to learn from history: a boycott of the Olympics has never achieved anything,” he said.
Consider the boycott in Moscow in 1980 due to the intervention of the Soviet army in Afghanistan. The Soviet army withdrew from Afghanistan in 1989, nine years later.
“So it really did nothing but punish athletes and then it led to the counter-boycott in Los Angeles. It also does not make sense, why would you punish athletes from your own country if you have a dispute with athletes from another country? This just doesn’t make any sense. The athletes would be the ones who are suffering ”.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism