Human rights activists decry persecution of Uyghurs ahead of Beijing Olympics

China 2022

UNDATED (NEXSTAR) — Human rights activists are calling on athletes to boycott the 2022 Olympics in Beijing, saying China is guilty of genocide.

“We are expecting the G-7 governments to boycott the Winter Olympic Games,” Zumretay Arkin of the World Uyghur Congress said.

Activists disrupted the flame lighting ceremony in Greece and accused the International Olympic Committee of granting, “legitimacy to China’s human rights abuses:” by allowing the games to go on.

“This behavior is not only outrageous, it is immoral and criminal. It is essentially helping, aiding and abetting the Beijing regime to carry out its propaganda and to cover up a sports-washing of its genocide,” Pema Doma, the campaigns director at Students for a Free Tibet, said.

China has been internationally criticized for its treatment of Uyghurs, an ethnic minority in China’s northwest Xinjiang region, most of whom are Muslim. Uyghur women have been sterilized and an estimated 1 million Uyghurs have been sent to “re-education” camps or sent away from their homes and families in Xinjiang to work in labor camps. 

“Human rights violations are abysmal and we all believe that it really tears the fabric of humanity,” ice dancer Evan Bates said.

He and partner Madison Chock are bidding to make their third Olympic team. In their sport, the Olympics is the ultimate stage.

But while they support the protestors’ cause, Bates said a boycott is not the answer.

“To boycott the Games would be to not take the opportunity to shed light on this topic,” Bates said. “And we will field the question and speak about how important it is to come together and represent the Olympic movement, which is all about togetherness and humanity and representing the best of what sport offers.”

Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee, continues to stress the games must be “respected as politically neutral ground.”

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