Human rights activists call on Olympic athletes to speak out against ‘genocide games’
Human rights activists are calling on Olympic athletes and sponsors to speak out against the Beijing Winter Olympic Games.
In a press conference Friday hosted by Human Rights Watch, activists dubbed the forthcoming Olympics the “genocide games” and said athletes needed to speak out against China, The Associated Press reported.
“The 2022 Winter Olympics will be remembered as the genocide games,” University of Chicago visiting professor Teng Biao, who was formerly a human rights activist in China, said.
“The CCP’s purpose is to exactly turn the sports arena into a stage for political legitimacy and a tool to whitewash all those atrocities,” he added, referring to the country’s ruling party, the Chinese Communist Party.
A number of activists and politicians have spoken out for months against China hosting the Games, citing the country’s reported abuses of Uyghur Muslims, among other concerns.
Researchers have estimated that over 1 million Uyghur Muslims and other minorities have been put into forced labor camps in China’s Xinjiang region. China has denied any human rights violations, claiming that the camps are designed to teach job skills and counter radicalism.
“Your silence is their strength. This is what they want more than anything: that the world will play by China’s rules, that we will follow China’s lead, that we will look away from these atrocities and crimes for the sake of business as usual,” Lhadon Tethong, director of the Tibet Action Institute, said, calling on athletes from Western countries to speak out.
“I personally believe that you should use your platform and your privilege and this historic opportunity. You have to speak out against the wave of genocide,” she added, according to the AP.
The U.S. and several other countries have declared a diplomatic boycott of the Games in protest of China’s human rights abuses, but have not pulled their athletes from the event.
China has decried the boycotts against the Games, saying the event should not be politicized.
The Beijing Olympic Games are set to begin on Feb. 4.
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