Uyghur body calls for boycott of 2022 Winter Olympics in China, cites human rights abuses

Munich: Citing grave human rights abuses, a pro-Uyghur body on Thursday called on the international community to boycott the 2022 Winter Olympics scheduled to be held in China.

“While China continues its grave human rights abuses against Uyghurs, Tibetans, Hongkongers, and others, countries cannot support Beijing 2022 in good conscience. The Uyghur Congress calls upon the international community to commit to a diplomatic boycott,” World Uyghur Congress tweeted.

Beijing is going to hold the 2022 Winter Olympics from February 4 – February 20, but a shadow looms over its successful organisation due to global condemnation over its repressive policies on Tibetans, Uyghurs and coronavirus pandemic.

“The likelihood of a 2022 Olympic boycott is increasing by the day,” said Natasha Kassam, an analyst at the Lowy Institute, in Sydney, and a former Australian diplomat in China, reported CNN.

Facing not just anger over the treatment of Tibetans, but outright claims of “genocide” against Uyghurs in Xinjiang, China’s leaders may find it far harder to surf the wave of criticism this year than in 2008.

“Public opinion around the world has soured towards China, as grim realities of the Party-state become common knowledge. The level of public concern about human rights abuses in China in 2022 dwarfs the outrage around the 2008 Games,” said Kassam.

In 2008, Beijing’s hosting of the Games was seen as a potential step towards further opening up and political reform in China, but the opposite happened.

While China seems unlikely to even pay lip service to the idea of liberalisation this time around, foreign governments will also be far more sceptical of any possible gains, after patting themselves on the back ahead of 2008 only to be embarrassed when few of the supposed concessions were realised.