Activist countries

Rights groups urge countries to lobby China for human rights ahead of Olympics — Radio Free Asia

Rights groups and a former United Nations official have issued a final appeal to the international community to use the upcoming Winter Olympics in Beijing to pressure China to improve its record in on human rights, amid widespread persecution of Uyghur Muslims, Tibetans, Hong Kongers and other groups.

Thousands of athletes, officials and diplomats from around the world will attend the games, which will take place from February 4 to 20.

London-based Amnesty International said Friday that countries sending delegations to Beijing should use the Olympics, as well as the Paralympic Games from March 4-13, to demand that China treat minority groups better.

“The Beijing Winter Olympics must not be seen as a sport-washing opportunity for the Chinese authorities, and the international community must not become complicit in a propaganda exercise,” said Alkan Akad, a researcher on China to Amnesty, in a statement.

“The games should not be used to distract from China’s appalling human rights record. On the contrary, they should be an opportunity to pressure China to address these issues,” Akad said.

The Chinese government is committed to respecting media freedom, labor rights and peaceful protests during the Olympics. But there is no evidence that he followed through, Amnesty said.

“The right to freedom of expression is systematically violated in China. It is therefore vital that the [International Olympic Committee] and the various National Olympic Committees present at the Games duly respect the wish of athletes and sports officials to speak out on human rights, including on issues deemed “sensitive” by the authorities,” said Akad.

His group called for the release of five detained Chinese activists: Uyghur professor Ilham Tohti, citizen journalist Zhang Zhan, workers’ rights activist Li Qiaochu, human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng and Tibetan blogger Rinchen Tsultrim.

“If the Chinese government wants to use the Olympics as a showcase for the country, it should start by releasing all those who have been prosecuted or detained solely for peacefully exercising their human rights,” Akad said.

A coalition of more than 250 civil society groups representing Tibetans, Uighurs, Hong Kongers, Chinese, Southern Mongolians, Taiwanese and other communities sent a letter to United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres, asking him not to attend the Winter Olympics in Beijing.

The UN, the United States and the legislatures of several Western countries have declared that China’s systematic repression of the 12 million Uyghurs and other Turkish minorities who live in Xinjiang constitutes genocide and crimes against the humanity.

“It is not only shocking that the Secretary General is willing to attend Beijing 2022 as genocide is perpetrated against Uyghurs and other Muslims, but also inconsistent with the fundamental principles of the UN,” Zumretay Arkin said. , head of program and advocacy at the Uyghur World Congress, said in a statement.

“His appearance at the Winter Olympics will not only be a kick in the teeth for all human rights defenders living under Chinese rule, but will undermine the highly respected forums of the United Nations,” she said.

Several countries, including the United States, have announced diplomatic boycotts of the Beijing Olympics.

Former U.S. Goodwill Ambassador for Global Women’s Issues and U.S. Representative to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, Kelley Currie, told RFA that corporate sponsors of the Olympics and the IOC made an exception for China by not pressing the country to resolve rights issues.

“They talk about women’s rights and gender issues and other human rights issues,” she said. “They have all these principles that are on their website, but when it comes to China, it’s just that they have an exception for China. And it’s the same with these companies.

“It’s even more disturbing that they’re so deferential and so quiet when it comes to China and they don’t say anything, and so I think they’re pretending they don’t have any responsibility,” Currie said. “They have a responsibility.”

Written in English by Roseanne Gerin.