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Beijing Olympics Begin Amid Atrocity Crimes

243 Global Groups Call for Action on Rights Concerns

January 27, 2022

Chinese paramilitary police march past mascots from prior Winter Olympics displayed at Shougang Park in Beijing, China, January 21, 2022. © 2022 AP Photo/Ng Han Guan

(New York) – The 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics will open amid atrocity crimes and other grave human rights violations by the Chinese government, 243 nongovernmental 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 legitimize government abuses.

“It’s 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 Human Rights Watch.

Under President Xi Jinping, Chinese authorities have been committing mass abuses against Uyghurs, Tibetans, 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 labor, 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.

“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. Those include:

  • Arbitrary detention, torture, and forced labor of millions of Uyghurs and other Turkic groups in Xinjiang (the Uyghur region);

  • 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, such as WeChat;

  • Prosecution of people exercising rights to free expression, peaceful assembly, and association on behalf of vulnerable populations, including the lawyers Xu Zhiyong and Ding Jiaxi, the citizen journalist Zhang Zhan, the Tibetan monk and writer Go Sherab Gyatso, and public health activists known as the Changsha Funeng group; and

  • Arbitrary detention, torture, and forcible disappearance of human rights defenders, including Gao Zhisheng and Guo Feixiong.

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

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.

In other respects, the IOC has shown that its stated commitment to human rights means little. IOC President Thomas Bach participated in a Chinese government propaganda campaign to whitewash the sexual assault allegations brought by three-time Olympian Peng Shuai. The IOC has been unwilling to meet with the End Uyghur Forced Labor (EUFL) coalition, and has sported uniforms made by a company credibly alleged to use forced labor.

“The IOC claims that sport and politics do not mix, but the Chinese government was the one that used the 2008 Beijing Olympics to serve its political interests,” said Bhuchung K. Tsering, interim president of the International Campaign for Tibet. “Tibetans in Tibet then took the risk to tell the world about this, but the IOC didn’t pay heed. The upcoming Beijing Olympics is a unique opportunity for the IOC and governments to empower their athletes and press Chinese authorities to abide by international norms.”

The top corporate sponsors of the Games – Airbnb, Alibaba, Allianz, Atos, Bridgestone, Coca-Cola, Intel, Omega, Panasonic, P&G, Samsung, Toyota, and Visa – have also not fulfilled their human rights due diligence responsibilities. The companies have not provided meaningful public responses to concerns that their sponsorship creates or contributes to human rights violations, or whether they have acted to mitigate those violations. Sponsors should immediately disclose their human rights due diligence strategies, or explain their failure to carry out such assessments, the groups said

Several governments, including Australia, Canada, Japan, Lithuania, the United Kingdom, and the United States, have announced a diplomatic boycott of the Games in response to the Chinese government’s human rights abuses. They will send no senior officials – a longstanding Olympic tradition – to the opening or closing ceremonies. All governments, whether joining the diplomatic boycott or not, should use the opportunity to not only support the athletes participating in the Games, but also demonstrate concrete support for human rights defenders across China.

“We urge governments to send messages of support to human rights defenders in prison or detention who are paying a great price for advocating reform, defending the rights of others, or simply discussing ways to strengthen civil society in China,” said Sharon Hom, executive director of Human Rights in China.

Those participating in the Beijing Olympics face a host of human rights risks, the groups said. IOC rules prohibit athletes from publicly expressing their views on human rights in China on the Olympic podium, and Chinese authorities’ retaliation against critics creates a chill for athletes worldwide. The Chinese government’s willingness to arbitrarily detain foreigners for peaceful criticism, such as the Swedish publisher Gui Minhai, further limits free speech. Olympic athletes, coaches, and other support staff are also likely to be subjected to pervasive state surveillance, particularly through monitoring of digital communications.

“Athletes upholding Olympic ideals should not have to face omnipresent surveillance, repression of free speech or belief, and an insecure human rights environment to participate in the Games,” said Bob Fu, president of ChinaAid.

Spectators around the world watching the Winter Games can play a positive role by educating themselves about the human rights environment inside China, and can take actions ranging from purchasing products not made with forced labor to encouraging their own governments to pursue accountability for Chinese government officials responsible for the worst international crimes. People can urge companies to sign the EUFL coalition’s Call to Action.

“The stark reality of the Chinese government’s atrocity crimes and ongoing impunity should compel the IOC, sponsors, and others associated with the Olympics to question whether these Games are legitimizing and prolonging grave abuses,” said Dolkun Isa, president of the World Uyghur Congress. “No one should want another Olympics like this.”

Nongovernmental Organization Signatories:

  1. 6.12 Manchester Working Group

  2. ACAT Belgium

  3. Adas Israel Social Action Committee

  4. Alberta Uyghur Association

  5. All Citizenship Compact

  6. Alliance for Vietnam's Democracy

  7. ALTSEAN-Burma

  8. American Alliance for Automotive Corporate Social Responsibility

  9. Amigos del Tibet Chile

  10. Anti-China Expansion Movement

  11. Anti-Slavery International

  12. Army of Survivors

  13. ARTICLE 19

  14. Asociación Cultural Tibetano-Costerricense


  16. Athenai Institute

  17. Athlete Activist

  18. Athlete Ally

  19. Australia Tibet Council

  20. Australian Centre for International Justice

  21. Australian East Turkestan Association

  22. Australian Uyghur Association

  23. Australian Uyghur Tangritagh Women's Association

  24. Austria Uyghur Association

  25. Bauhinias For Freedom

  26. Bay Area Friends of Tibet

  27. Be Slavery Free

  28. Belgium Uyghur Association

  29. [Redacted For Anonymity]

  30. Bloc 8406 International

  31. Blue Crescent Humanitarian Aid Association

  32. Campaign For Uyghurs

  33. Captive Nations Coalition of the Committee on Present Danger: China

  34. China Against the Death Penalty

  35. China Human Rights Defenders

  36. ChinaAid

  37. Chinese Democracy And Human Rights Alliance

  38. Christian Coalition for Uyghur Freedom

  39. Church of Scientology National Affairs Office

  40. Citizen Power Initiatives for China

  41. CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation

  42. Comitato Lady Lawyer Village

  43. Comité de Apoyo al Tíbet CAT

  44. Congregation Beth Ora

  45. Consortium for Intersectional Justice

  46. Coordination des Associations et des Particuliers pour la Liberté de Conscience

  47. Corporate Accountability Lab

  48. CSW

  49. Czech Support Tibet

  50. Dawn of HongKong

  51. Den norske uyghur komiteen

  52. Dialogue China

  53. Dominican Sisters Grand Rapids

  54. Dutch Uyghur Human Rights Foundation

  55. East Turkestan Press and Media Association

  56. East Turkestan Union of Muslim Scholars

  57. East Turkistan Association in Finland

  58. East Turkistan Association of Canada

  59. [Redacted For Anonymity]

  60. East Turkistan Education and Solidarity Association

  61. East Turkistan Entrepreneur Tradesmen and Industrialists Businessmen Association

  62. East Turkistan Human Rights Watch Association

  63. East Turkistan New Generation Movement

  64. East Turkistan Nuzugum Culture and Family Association

  65. East Turkistan Sports and Development Association

  66. East Turkistan Union in Europe

  67. Eastern Turkistan Foundation

  68. Emgage Action

  69. Equality League

  70. European East Turkistan Education Association

  71. Family Research Council

  72. FIDH - International Federation for Human Rights

  73. FIDU - Italian Federation for Human Rights

  74. [Redacted For Anonymity]

  75. Finnish Uyghur Culture Center

  76. Football Supporters Europe

  77. Frankfurt Stand With Hong Kong

  78. Free Tibet

  79. Free Uyghur Now

  80. Freedom House

  81. Freedom Ummah

  82. Friends of Hong Kong Calgary

  83. Friends of Tibet Bulgaria

  84. Front Line Defenders

  85. [Redacted For Anonymity]

  86. Germany Stands with Hong Kong

  87. Global Alliance for Tibet & Persecuted Minorities

  88. Global Athlete

  89. Global Peace Mission (GPM) Malaysia

  90. Grupo de Apoio ao Tibete-Portugal

  91. Havurat Shalom

  92. [Redacted For Anonymity]

  93. Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights

  94. Hong Kong Committee in Norway

  95. Hong Kong Democracy Council

  96. Hong Kong Watch

  97. Hong Kongers in San Francisco Bay Area

  98. Hongkonger in Deutschland e.V.

  99. HOPE not hate

  100. Human Rights Foundation

  101. Human Rights in China

  102. Human Rights Research and Education Centre, University of Ottawa

  103. Human Rights Watch

  104. Human Rights Without Frontiers

  105. Human Trafficking Search

  106. Humanitarian China

  107. I lham Tohti Initiative

  108. Indonesia Save Uyghur

  109. International Campaign for Tibet

  110. International Coalition to End Transplant Abuse In China (ETAC)

  111. International Pen Uyghur Center

  112. International Service for Human Rights (ISHR)

  113. International Society for Human Rights

  114. International Support for Uyghurs

  115. International Tibet Network

  116. International Union of East Turkistan Organizations

  117. International Uyghur Human Right and Democracy Foundation

  118. Isa Yusup Alptekin Foundation

  119. Islamic Community Milli Gorus

  120. Islamic Information Services Foundation

  121. Japan Uyghur Association

  122. Jewish Community Relations Council/American Jewish Committee Detroit

  123. Jewish Movement for Uyghur Freedom

  124. Jewish World Watch

  125. Judicial Reform Foundation

  126. Justice For All

  127. Justice for Uyghurs

  128. Lady Lawyer Foundation

  129. Lantos Foundation for Human Rights & Justice

  130. [Redacted For Anonymity]

  131. LICADHO

  132. Louise Xin Group

  133. LUNGTA - Actief voor Tibet

  134. Malaysia Consultative Council of Islamic Organization (MAPIM)

  135. Malaysia4Uyghur

  136. Malaysian Consultative Council of Islamic Organizations

  137. Minaret Foundation

  138. Minh Van Foundation

  139. Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies

  140. Muslim Youth Movement of Malaysia (ABIM)

  141. National Clergy Council

  142. Netherlands for Hong Kong

  143. Norwegian Uyghur Committee

  144. Omer Uygur Foundation

  145. Overseas Liaison Office Representative for The Interfaith Council in Vietnam

  146. Peace Catalyst International

  147. Perth Anti-CCP Association

  148. Power of Sport Lab / Athletes for Human Rights

  149. People for Successful Corean Reunification (PSCORE)

  150. Religious Freedom Institute

  151. René Cassin, the Jewish voice for human rights

  152. Reporters Without Borders (RSF)

  153. Santa Barbara Friends of Tibet

  154. Satuq Bugrakhan Foundation of Science and Civilization

  155. Silk Road Peace Project

  156. SoCal Students for Uyghur Justice

  157. Society for Threatened Peoples

  158. Society Union of Uyghur National Association

  159. Stand with HK@JPN

  160. Stand with Hong Kong Vienna


  162. Stefanus Alliance International

  163. [Redacted for Anonymity]

  164. Stop Uyghur Genocide UK

  165. Stop Uyghur Genocide Australia

  166. Stop Uyghur Genocide Canada

  167. Students for a Free Tibet - Denmark

  168. Students for Free Tibet – Japan

  169. Students For Liberty - Myanmar

  170. Sweden Uyghur Education Union

  171. Swedish Tibet Committee

  172. Swiss Tibetan Friendship Association

  173. Switzerland East Turkestan Association

  174. Sydney Uyghur Association

  175. Taiwan Association for China Human Rights

  176. Taiwan Association for Human Rights

  177. Taiwanese Human Rights Association of Canada

  178. Temple Shalom

  179. Thailand and Hong Kong Together

  180. The Army of Survivors

  181. The Community Human Rights Promotion and Protection Association (ACPDH)

  182. The Norwegian Tibet Committee


  184. The Tibet Support Committee, Denmark

  185. The Viet Democratic Side's International Forum

  186. Tibet Action Institute

  187. Tibet Initiative Deutschland e.V.

  188. Tibet Justice Center

  189. Tibet Mx

  190. Tibet Solidarity

  191. Tibet Support Group Ireland

  192. Tibetan Community in Britain

  193. Tibetan Parliament in Exile

  194. Tibetan Youth Association in Europe

  195. Transparency International Deutschland e.V.

  196. Tso Pema Non-Profit

  197. Uigur Society of the Kyrgyz Republic

  198. Uigurische Gemeinde Österreich

  199. Umer Uyghur Trust

  200. Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam

  201. United Council of Vietnamese Homeland and Overseas

  202. Universitet Sulayman Demirel

  203. Uyghur Academy Australia

  204. Uyghur Academy Canada

  205. Uyghur Academy Europe

  206. Uyghur Academy Foundation

  207. Uyghur Academy Japan

  208. Uyghur Academy USA

  209. Uyghur American Association

  210. Uyghur Association of Victoria

  211. Uyghur Center for Human Rights and Democracy

  212. Uyghur Cultural and Education Union in Germany

  213. Uyghur Education Union

  214. Uyghur Human Rights Project

  215. Uyghur Projects Foundation

  216. Uyghur Refugee Relief Fund

  217. Uyghur Research Institute

  218. Uyghur Rights Advocacy Project

  219. Uyghur Science and Civilization Research Foundation

  220. Uyghur Support Group Netherlands

  221. Uyghur Transitional Justice Database

  222. Uyghur U.K. Association

  223. Uyghur Youth Union in Kazakhstan

  224. Uzbekistan Uyghur Culture Center

  225. Verein der Tibeter in Deutschland

  226. Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation

  227. Victoria Uyghur Association

  228. Vietnamese Community of Pomona Valley

  229. Visual Artists Guild

  230. We The Hongkongers

  231. [Redacted For Anonymity]

  232. Women's Rights Without Frontiers

  233. World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT)

  234. World Uyghur Congress Foundation

  235. (美国)民主中国阵线

  236. 加拿大价值守护者联盟

  237. 台灣聯合國協進會

  238. 民主中華傳媒

  239. 民主黨洛杉磯委員會

  240. 洛杉矶中国民主平台

  241. 自由中國

  242. 自由雕塑公園

  243. 華人基督徒公義團契


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