China is due to host the Winter Olympics in 2022. Amidst the ongoing debate over whether an communist regime, accused of committing genocide, atrocities, crimes and grave breaches of an international treaty deserve to host this prestigious sporting event, a Chinese human rights activist has in his article for The Washington Post chronicled why China does not deserve the honour of hosting the Olympic Games.
Recounting the innumerable atrocities the dictatorial regime of the Communist Party in China has committed over the years, Teng Biao, Chinese human right activist, demands that the world should at least this time, organize a “Clean Olympics” elsewhere.
Biao reminds of what the Olympic Charter refers to, which he says time and again calls to boycott games being hosted by China and other repressive regimes and has been discussed but never implemented.
Biao writes that in the year 1935, the “Committee on Fair Play in Sports” had questioned Nazi Germany’s hosting of the 1936 Summer Olympics. The then American Olympic Committee had backed Germany’s hosting privileges by saying politics should not be mixed with sports. Despite being criticised and called Hitler’s “propaganda bonanza”, America then went ahead to support Germany’s right to host the Olympics.
The activist recollects how a similar question arose when Beijing prepared to host the 2008 Games. The human right activist pens down how China had then carried out an oppressive initiative against common people in order to “clean up” the city to build a state of the art infrastructure. Biao writes that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) regime had then arbitrarily bulldozed homes and forcefully evicted people. Those who objected were detained and tortured. The journalists who told the truth were imprisoned.
Here the activist recounts his personal life experiance. He shares how he and his friend Hu Jia were implicated by the government in 2008 for publishing an article called “The Real China and the Olympics.”
While Hu Jia was charged with “inciting subversion of state power” and sentenced to three and a half years in prison, Bias recounts how his license to practice law was cancelled, his passport was confiscated and he was kidnapped from a sidewalk by plainclothes police who detained and tortured him.
The Chinese activist further writes that others who signed an open letter organized by Liu Xiaobo (who later won the Nobel Peace Prize) and Ding Zilin proposing that Beijing’s Olympics slogan be revised to “One World, One Dream, Equal Human Rights” were either detained or imprisoned.
He recollects how despite all the calls to boycott, China could not be stopped and it had gone ahead to host the 2008 Games. “No country boycotted, even as tens of thousands of prisoners of conscience stood mute in prison and rights lawyers, like me, were held under house arrest”, says Bias.
Speaking on China’s double standards, the human right activist writes that though from the outside, China has always tries to project itself as a progressive country which respects and guarantees basic freedoms but from the inside it has always been extremely autocratic and repressive.
“Since 1949, China’s Constitution has guaranteed basic freedoms. The regime has signed many international human rights documents to deflect foreign criticism. In 1997, Beijing promised no change in Hong Kong for 50 years”, however, all this has been just a eye-wash, claims the activist.
Additionally, Biao recounts that in the year 2015, when China won the rights to host the 2022 Olympics, it cracked down on lawyers, journalists and activists across China. Since then, it has not only inflicted atrocities on native lawyers, journalists and activists but the Xi regime has transgressed dissidents even outside China’s borders. It has shut down nongovernmental organizations, demolished Christian churches, Tibetan temples and Muslim mosques, persecuted, sometimes to death, believers of Falun Gong; and sharply increased its control of media, the Internet, universities and publishers.
The activist furthers that in late 2019, China concealed the covid-19 outbreak by jailing and silencing whistleblowers and journalists.
Directing attention towards the ceaseless incidents of atrocities and persecution under the CCP regime in China, Bias furthers that the Chinese Communist Party has systematically rounded up millions of Uyghurs and Kazakhs into concentration camps in Xinjiang since 2017. There are credible reports of systematic rape, sexual abuse and torture, forced sterilizations, coerced marriage to Han people, and separation of children from parents.
Since 2009, more than 150 Tibetans have self-immolated, calling for basic freedom and for the Dalai Lama to be allowed to return. The regime has sent a reported 500,000 Tibetans into forced-labour camps. The Xi Jinping’s communist regime has also stopped the teaching of Mongolian language in schools in Inner Mongolia.
He furthers how President Xi Jinping has centralized power and taken all possible steps to ensure that he remains dictator for life.
Saying so, Teng Biao recounts how in October when he along with representatives of more than 160 human rights organizations, met the International Olympic Committee, he got the same response which the then American Olympic Committee had given while backing Nazi Germany’s hosting privileges in 1935.
Biao says that though it would be wrong to deprive athletes of the opportunity to perform on the world stage, it would be criminal to grant the honour of hosting the game, not once but twice, to an communist regime, that has ceaselessly been committing genocide and assaulting human rights and dignity. Saying so, the Chinese activist urges the world to organize a “Clean Olympics” elsewhere.
It is pertinent to note here, that only last week, the Canadian Olympic organisers have said that they would warn its athletes to refrain from openly criticising China ahead of the winter games. The decision was taken due to concerns that the Communist Party’s critics could be prosecuted under the draconian national security law. In an interview with the Globe and Mail, David Shoemaker, chief executive officer of the Canadian Olympic Committee, said that the athletes have been asked to not to comment at least until after the Games have taken place.
Over the years, more and more evidence has emerged of China’s human rights violation of the ethnic-religious minority group- Uyghurs in Xinjiang. The concentration camps are the most extreme example of China’s inhumane policies against the Uyghurs. Uyghurs inside and outside the camps are exploited for cheap labour. Chinese authorities subjected Uyghur women to mass sterilization or have abortions. They are raped and persecuted and put in camps if they resist.
The Chinese government, however, claims that the camps are merely vocational and training centres. It has justified the oppression in Xinjiang as an attempt to clamp down on terrorism and extremism emanating from the Uighur separatist movement.