Beijing Winter Olympics open in shadow of human rights criticism – Archyde

The last time Peking Host of the Olympic Games – the 2008 Summer Games – Uyghurs Human rights lawyer Rayhan Asat woke up early excited to see this Olympic Torch relay in the Chinese city of Wuhan.

Now, as 2022 Winterolympiade beginning, Ms. Asat is one of many people around the world protesting and asking questions about the games China‘s human rights record.

“As China basks in the glory of hosting the Olympics that will boost its image, I cannot imagine the betrayal the innocent Uyghurs feel in the face of the cowardice of many world leaders?” said Ms. Asat, who is now based in the US.

“Allowing a country that commits atrocities to host the Olympics is an eyesore on our consciousness,” she said The Independent per Telefon aus New Haven, Connecticut.

The lawyer has campaigned for the release of her brother Ekpar Asat, a Xinjiang Uyghur entrepreneur who disappeared in 2016 after attending a US State Department-sponsored class and was later reportedly sentenced to 15 years in prison for “inciting ethnic hatred.” and ethnic discrimination”.

Ms Asat is far from alone in her denunciation of the Chinese government and the Winter Olympics.

The US, Britain, Canada and several other Western nations are staging a diplomatic boycott over widespread allegations of Chinese mistreatment of Xinjiang’s Uyghur minority amid protests involving activists around the world – Tibetan exiles including – marching in Delhi and before the International Olympic Committee (IOK) based in Switzerland.

Ethnic Tibetans make up more than 80 percent of the population in the Tibet Autonomous Region, one of the most restricted areas in China. Critics, led by exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, say Beijing’s rule amounts to “cultural genocide”.

Leading human rights organizations, including Amnesty International, have also raised concerns about the human rights situation in China.

“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,” said Alkan Akad, Amnesty International’s China researcher.



Activists protest against the Winter Olympics near the US Capitol in Washington (EPA-EFE)


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Activists protest against the Winter Olympics near the US Capitol in Washington (EPA-EFE)

After increasing global scrutiny, Beijing has repeatedly denied allegations of human rights abuses and said it rejects the “politicization” of sport.

“The so-called China human rights issue is a lie concocted by people with ulterior motives,” Beijing Games spokesman Zhao Weidong said on Thursday.

In addition, the Chinese government has warned athletes to be careful about what they say at the Games, as any speech against the Olympic spirit or Chinese laws “would be subject to certain punishment”.

The IOC has largely dodged questions about China’s alleged human rights abuses, instead emphasizing the need for the organization to remain politically neutral.

“When we find ourselves in the midst of tensions, disputes and confrontations between political powers, we are putting the Games at risk,” said IOC President Thomas Bach on Thursday.

Yet campaign groups continue to call on the IOC to ensure athletes’ freedom of expression is protected in Beijing.

“Athletes should not have to fear for their safety when traveling to China,” said Noah Hoffman, a two-time US Olympic skier and board member of Global Athlete, in a joint statement from more than 130 human rights organizations.

“It is totally unacceptable that athletes have to censor themselves on human rights and other issues to avoid being censored or sent home by the Chinese government,” he added.



Tibetan activists take part in a protest in New Delhi, India (AFP via Getty Images)


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Tibetan activists take part in a protest in New Delhi, India (AFP via Getty Images)

Some activists have criticized the IOC for an alleged failure to challenge China over human rights concerns.

“(The IOC) knows that the human rights situation in China is deteriorating, but refuses to put pressure on the Chinese government,” said Chinese human rights lawyer and activist Teng Biao The Independent.

Mr. Teng said the Chinese government has vowed to address human rights issues and improve the rule of law ahead of 2008 Olympic games, but ultimately failed to deliver on its promises.

Speaking to the IOC on Thursday, Chinese President Xi Jinping said China is ready to host the Winter Games after consistently championing the Olympic spirit from 2008 to 2022. Mr. Xi said China will do its best to bring “a streamlined, safe and glorious” games.

For many activists, however, such words ring hollow.

Hong Kong activist Frances Hui said she hopes China’s dramatic crackdown on the territory since 2019 would remind the international community of promises the Chinese government has failed to deliver on over the years.

After months of protests against the extradition bill in 2019, Hong Kong authorities introduced a controversial national security law. several pro-democracy media closed, and arrested dozens of protesters and former liberal politicians.

In the latest such development, veteran Hong Kong activist Koo Sze-yiu was arrested on Friday, days after he announced plans to protest outside the city’s government buildings against the Beijing Winter Olympics, according to local media.

“Hong Kongers hoped, especially in 1997 and 2008, that the Chinese government would continue to give Hong Kong people the freedom and autonomy it had promised,” Ms. Hui said The Independent.

“Now many are being sentenced to prison while others are being forced to flee their hometowns,” she added. “Hong Kong’s civil society has been completely dismantled with the loss of freedom of expression.”

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