Feb 07, 2022
US Congressman Tom Suozzi (middle) on Times Square, photo courtesy: Jimin Kim
By Jimin Kim
NEW YORK - On Feb. 3, 2022, U.S. congressman Tom Suozzi of New York, and dozens of activists of Uyghur, Tibetan, Hong Kong, and Southern Mongolian descent protested the Chinese government’s human rights violations. The rally took place in New York City the day before the start of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. Critics of the 2022 Winter Olympics have condemned the games due to the Chinese government’s mass detention of Uyghurs in Xinjiang, China.
The rally began in front of the building of the Consulate General of the People's Republic of China in Manhattan, New York City. From there, the protestors marched to Times Square.
Suozzi criticized the Chinese government’s human rights violations and discussed the opening ceremony of the 2022 Winter Olympics.
Protesters outside the Consulate General of the People's Republic of China in NYC, Photo courtesy Jimin Kim
“We need to call attention to what the Chinese Communist Party is doing to its people,” said Suozzi in Times Square. “It is abusing its own people and when you watch the fireworks, and when you watch the parade and listen to the music and the dancing, that can not be a distraction. Instead, it is up to us to make it a spotlight, a spotlight on the human rights violations that are taking place all across the many time zones of China.”
According to the U.S. State Department, more than one million Uyghurs and other members of mostly Muslim minority groups are under mass detention in internment camps in Xinjiang. The Chinese government has denied they are putting Uyghurs under mass detention. They have also denied committing human rights violations against Uyghurs.
“The Uyghurs are in forced labor camps with mass surveillance and forced sterilization and forced abortions and rape and torture,” said Suozzi. “People are forced to eat pork even though it violates their religion. They’re not allowed to pray.”
Before the Feb. 3, 2022 rally, Suozzi held a press conference at Dag Hammarskjöld Plaza near the United Nations building in New York City on Jan. 28. He criticized the Chinese government’s human rights violations. The event included activists representing Uyghurs, Tibetans, Hong Kongers, and Southern Mongolians.
At the press conference, Tursunay Ziyawudun, an Uyghur refugee, said the International Olympic Committee should never have allowed China to host the 2022 Winter Olympics. According to Ziyawudun, the Chinese government imprisoned her in the internment camp system in China for nine months.
She spoke about her experience in the camp system where according to Ziyawudun, she was beaten and raped. Her English translator, Sureyya Kashgary, translated for her.
“I am a survivor,” said Ziyawudun. “I’ve seen everything in the camp and what is happening in there. The torturing, the killing, the abusing, the raping.”
The Chinese government places heavy restrictions on reporters in China. Therefore, it is impossible to completely prove Ziyawudun’s account. However, her description of life inside the internment camp system in China in addition to the abuse detainees face in the camps, is consistent with eye-witness testimonies of other Uyghurs who were detainees.
The 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, which began on Feb. 4, 2022, are set to end on Feb. 20, 2022.