Beijing Olympics Begin Amid Atrocity Crimes

Human Rights Watch

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
  15. ASSEMBLY FOR DEMOCRACY IN VIETNAM
  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. Ilham 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 [email protected]
  160. Stand with Hong Kong Vienna
  161. STANDNOW
  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
  183. THE TAIWAN UNITED NATIONS ALLIANCE (TAIUNA)
  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

Public Release. More on this here.