Amnesty warns against ‘sportswear’ at Beijing Winter Olympics – Archyde

LONDON: Amnesty International warned on Wednesday (19 January) that the international community must not allow China to use it Winterolympiade in Beijing as an “opportunity to wash sports” and must avoid being “competent in a propaganda exercise”.

The organization fears that China will use the games to distract attention from alleged human rights abuses against Uyghur Muslims and in Hong Kong, arguing that the situation in the country is worse today than it was at the 2008 Summer Olympics.

Amnesty China researcher Alkan Akad said: “The Beijing Winter Olympics must not be seen as a mere sportswear opportunity for the Chinese authorities, and the international community must not be complicit in a propaganda exercise.

“The world needs to heed the lessons of the 2008 Beijing Games, when the Chinese government’s promises to improve human rights fell short.

“Amid the severe restrictions in place at Beijing 2022, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) needs to do better on its promise to protect athletes’ right to speak their minds – and most importantly, make sure it’s not related to violations of the Athletes’ rights complicit. Right.”

The United States, Australia, Canada and Britain have announced they will not send official representation to the Olympics, with the US citing “the ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang and other human rights abuses.”

Despite this, athletes from these countries will continue to compete in the event, which begins on February 4th.

Amnesty UK chief executive Sacha Deshmukh said Britain’s diplomatic boycott of the games, announced last month, must be the start, not the end, of efforts to increase pressure on China.

“China hopes for sportswashing gold and it is important that every effort is made to counteract this,” Deshmukh said.


The Amnesty report comes after US lawmakers on Tuesday urged the UN human rights chief to release a report ahead of the start of the Olympics on Xinjiang, where Washington has accused China of committing genocide against the Uyghur Muslim minority.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, the former President of Chile, has been calling for Beijing to have “meaningful and unhindered access” to Xinjiang for years, but so far no such visit has been made possible.

In mid-December, a spokesman for the High Commissioner indicated that a report could be released in “a few weeks”.

But human rights defenders are calling on the United Nations to crack down. Several human rights organizations accuse China of imprisoning at least a million Muslims in Xinjiang.

Beijing disputes the figure and describes the camps as “vocational training centers” to boost employment and combat religious extremism.

Amnesty also criticized the IOC’s handling of the case of tennis player Peng Shuai.

The athlete’s well-being has become a top concern since she disappeared from public view after claiming on social media that she had been sexually assaulted by a senior Chinese government official.

Pressured to use its influence and engage Chinese authorities over Peng, the IOC has held video calls with her showing she is fine.

But Amnesty’s Akad said the panel accepted reassurances “without confirming whether she experienced any restrictions on her freedom of expression, freedom of movement and her right to privacy”.


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