243 global groups call for action against China over human rights violations as Beijing Winter Olympics nears

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Originally published by ANI on 29 January, 2022

New York [US], January 29 (ANI): 243 global groups including nongovernmental organisations have called for action against China over human rights concerns as Beijing Winter Olympics is set to begin in the first week of February.

“The 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics will open amid atrocity crimes and other grave human rights violations by the Chinese government, 243 non-governmental organizations from around the world said today. The groups urged governments to join a diplomatic boycott of the Games, slated to begin February 4, 2022, and for athletes and sponsors not to legitimise government abuses,” said the Human Rights Watch (HRW) in a statement on Thursday.

“It is not possible for the Olympic Games to be a ‘force for good,’ as the International Olympic Committee claims, while the host government is committing grave crimes in violation of international law,” said Sophie Richardson, China director at HRW.

The HRW further stated that under President Xi Jinping, Chinese authorities have been committing mass abuses against Uyghurs, Tibet ans, ethnic groups, and religious believers from all independent faith groups. They have eliminated independent civil society by persecuting human rights activists, feminists, lawyers, journalists, and others. The government has eviscerated a once-vibrant civil society in Hong Kong, expanded tech-enabled surveillance to significantly curtail the rights to expression, association, and peaceful assembly, and allowed the use of forced labour, in violation of international law.

Chinese authorities also continue to threaten members of diaspora communities, public figures, and companies beyond China’s borders through a sophisticated campaign of transnational repression, according to HRW.

“That the Winter Olympics is held in Beijing sends a signal to the world that Xi Jinping’s government is normal,” said Renee Xia, Director of Chinese Human Rights Defenders. “When the world rationalizes away such an abusive situation, it makes it harder for victims to stand up against injustice.”

Since the Chinese government was awarded the 2022 Winter Games in 2015, nongovernmental organizations and media outlets have documented numerous serious human rights violations by Chinese authorities. These include arbitrary detention, torture, and forced labour of millions of Uyghurs and other Turkic groups in Xinjiang (the Uyghur region); the decimation of independent media, democratic institutions, and rule of law in Hong Kong; high-tech surveillance systems enabling authorities to track and unjustly prosecute peaceful conduct, including criticism shared through apps and many other human rights violations.

“The spectacle of the Olympics cannot cover up genocide,” said Omer Kanat, executive director of the Uyghur Human Rights Project. “It is hard to understand why anyone feels it’s even possible to celebrate international friendship and ‘Olympic values’ in Beijing this year.”

According to HRW, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has said that its human rights obligations, announced in 2017, do not apply to the 2022 Winter Games. The IOC has not met its responsibilities under the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights by carrying out human rights due diligence despite the well-documented abuses in China, the groups said. (ANI)

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