Beijing | More than 180 political or human rights associations published an open letter on Wednesday calling on governments around the world to boycott the upcoming Beijing-2022 Winter Olympics.
The event is due to begin on February 4 next year, six months after the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics, even though uncertainties remain about its organization due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Beijing is facing strong Western criticism regarding its recent takeover of the semi-autonomous territory of Hong Kong (southern China) or its treatment of Uyghur Muslims and Tibetans.
Authors of the open letter call on governments around the world “to commit to a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics to ensure they are not used to encourage appalling rights violations. of Man and the suppression of dissent committed by the Chinese government ”.
Among the signatories are the Uyghur World Congress (an exile organization based in Germany), the International Network for Tibet (which brings together associations from around the world) or WeTheHongKongers (a group of Hong Kong people campaigning for “self-determination” of the territory) .
Since the award of the Winter Olympics in Beijing in 2015, “President Xi Jinping has unleashed a relentless crackdown on fundamental freedoms and human rights,” said the authors of the letter.
“It is extremely irresponsible to want to disrupt or obstruct the preparations and the normal holding of the Olympic Games for political reasons,” responded Wang Wenbin, a spokesman for the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
“This initiative will not gain the support of the international community and is doomed to failure,” he said at a regular press conference.
In a statement sent to AFP, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) had indicated that the concerns raised by these NGOs “have been and are being addressed with the (Chinese) government and local authorities”.
Beijing is particularly under fire from Western criticism about the Uyghurs, a Muslim minority living mainly in the Xinjiang region (northwest China).
According to studies by American or Australian institutes, at least a million of them were interned in “camps” and some subjected to “forced labor” or “forced sterilizations”.
China categorically denies the last two accusations and claims that the “camps” are “vocational training centers” intended to keep them away from religious extremism, after numerous bloody attacks against civilians.