DHARAMSALA, 3 Feb: Activists from Students for a Free Tibet-India(SFT) joined the global protest with a symbolic photo action a day ahead of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympic Games here in exile headquarters of the Tibetan people today.
“The 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics opens amid atrocity crimes and other grave human rights violations by the Chinese government,” SFT stated in its statement.
SFT’s photo action campaign called out top corporate sponsors of the Games – Airbnb, Alibaba, Allianz, Atos, Bridgestone, Coca- Cola, Intel, Omega, Panasonic, P&G, Samsung, Toyota, and Visa – for failing human rights.
Under President Xi Jinping, the activist group says “Chinese authorities have been committing mass abuses against Uyghurs, Tibetans, ethnic groups, and religious believers from all independent faith groups.”
SFT further argued that “awarding the 2008 summer Olympics Games to Beijing did NOT prove to be a catalyst for improvements in the rights and lives of people who live under Chinese rule. Beijing treated the award to be an endorsement of its policies, so campaigners fear awarding the 2022 Winter Olympics to China would encourage China to increase repression.”
As such the activists say China continued to disregard and violate basic human rights of Tibetans, Uyghurs, Hong Kongers and Southern Mongolians.
“What is happening in Tibet alone is sufficient to justify a boycott of Beijing 2022. From the recent sentencing of Tibetan intellectuals and activists like Go Sherab Gyatso, to the destruction of a giant Buddha statue in Drakgo, Tibet, the Chinese government is hellbent on eradicating Tibetan culture and identity. 1 million Tibetan children & youth living in China’s colonial boarding schools in Tibet where their language and identity is under attack. *This number does not include four and five-year-olds made to live in boarding preschools,” SFT India’s Grassroots Director Rinzin Choedon said.
The group further stated that “China’s policies have created a crisis in Tibet and provoked an unprecedented wave of self-immolations by monks, nuns, and laypeople.”
Since Feb 2009, at least 156 Tibetans have self-immolated in the Chinese occupied Tibet calling for freedom, an end to the Chinese occupation of Tibet and the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Tibet while 10 self-immolations by Tibetans have occurred in exile since 1998.
“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,” the statement added.
“Those participating in the Beijing Olympics face a host of human rights risks. 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 recent open threat to athletes stating they’ll be in danger if they speak out in support of human rights or were critical of the Chinese authorities clearly undermines the safety of the athletes,” SFT India’s Campaigns Coordinator Tenzin Lekdhen said.
While the Games are scheduled to be held over 4 -20 Feb, so far, the US, the UK, Lithuanian, Australia, Japan, New Zealand, Scotland, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Kosovo and Taiwan have all announced the diplomatic boycott of the winter games.
Besides, the Olympic and Paralympic Committee of countries such as the US, UK, Canada, Dutch and Australia have all reportedly issued similar advice to their “athletes, coaches and staff to refrain from using their personal electronic devices while in China due to surveillance concerns, and use ‘burner’ phones rather than their cellphones.”