TCHRD supports calls for ‘diplomatic boycott’ and relocation of Beijing 2022 Olympics

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Speaker Nancy Pelosi at the virtual joint hearing on China, Genocide and the Olympics

The Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) welcomes the remarks of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a steadfast human rights champion, urging the head of states for a “diplomatic boycott” of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics on human rights grounds at a virtual bipartisan congressional hearing on ‘China, Genocide and the Olympics’.

We commend this timely hearing jointly hosted by the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission(TLHRC) and the Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC) on 18 May with Rep. Christopher H. Smith, Co-Chair of TLHRC, Rep. James P. McGovern, Co-Chair of TLHRC and CECC, and Senator Jeffrey A. Merkley, Chair of the CECC giving the opening remarks.

China’s crackdown of the Tibetan uprising in the run-up to the 2008 Beijing Olympics has since contributed to the deteriorating human rights condition in Tibet triggering a spate of 156 known self-immolations in Tibet. 

Beginning in March 2008, Tibetans rose up in protest, first in Lhasa and then across the plateau to draw international attention to the dire situation inside Tibet. The protests were brutally suppressed and by September 2008, at least 100 known Tibetans had died and 6000 arbitrarily detained, as reported by TCHRD.

TCHRD’s successive annual reports on the human rights situation in Tibet have since provided credible evidence of human rights abuses and political repression reaching the level of ‘crimes against humanity’, with an increasing number of cases of extrajudicial killings, torture, and arbitrary detention being committed in a wide-ranging and systematic manner.

Rep. Chris Smith’s reference to the ‘China fantasy’ accurately captures the damaging effects of appeasement policy actively pursued by the previous US administrations vis-à-vis China. The prolonged appeasement has resulted in China intensifying repression and expansionism making transnational repression a real threat to global stability today.

The former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s determination of genocide in the case of Uyghurs, Kazakhs, Turks, and other Muslim minorities in Xinjiang earlier this year reminds one of the prophetic statement of Jean-Flavien Lalive, former Secretary-General of the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) in 1959 when Tibet lost its independence.

“The danger in such cases as that of Tibet is of a feeling of impotence and powerlessness overcoming people in the face of a fait accompli[.] What happened in Tibet yesterday may happen in our own countries tomorrow,” Lalive wrote in his introduction to the ICJ’s 1959 preliminary report on ‘The Question of Tibet and the Rule of Law’.

TCHRD is cognizant of the rights of the athletes to compete in Olympic games. However, the hearing made it doubly clear that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) risks permanently smearing the prestige of the Olympic games by allowing a government directly responsible for an unfolding genocide and pandemic to host the game for the second time.

On the question of what human rights assurances did the IOC get from China, Rep. Chris Smith re-extended the invitation(01:59:15) to the IOC to testify and give an account since there was too much at stake.  “So the door is open if they [want to] come and testify any time, any place. We will do it. And it goes as well for the US affiliates.”

TCHRD appeals to the head of the states, organizations, individuals, and corporate entities around the world to respect and honour human rights and basic dignity of life by pushing back against China’s plan to host the Winter Olympics 2022.

The Chinese Party-state actively undermines the Fundamental Principles of Olympism  enshrined in the Olympic Charter which states, “The goal of Olympism is to place sport at the service of the harmonious development of humankind, with a view to promoting a peaceful society concerned with the preservation of human dignity.”

There is enough time to relocate the Winter Olympics 2022 away from a government committing crimes against humanity and genocide in the 21st century to any city with the infrastructure and stature to uphold the core values of human rights, human dignity, and Olympics sportsmanship.