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Beijing Olympics marred by claims of crimes against humanity

Updated: Mar 13, 2023

Major countries plan diplomatic boycott

By Josh Pizzuto-Pomaco

Image courtesy of lynthia via Pixabay

As the 2022 Winter Olympics kick off this week in Beijing, activist groups are raising the alarm over China’s alleged violations of human rights toward the Uyghur people.

The Uyghurs, a Turkic ethnic group that practices Islam, are primarily concentrated in China’s Xinjiang Province.

According to a report produced by the Congressional-Executive Committee on China, as many as 1.8 million Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities have been forced into detention camps in recent years where they face religious and cultural repression.

Supporting its findings on satellite data and extensive interviews, the report states:

‘The severe human rights abuses, torture, political indoctrination, forced renunciations of faith, and widespread and systematic forced labor occurring in mass internment camps may constitute crimes against humanity under international law…’

Numerous human rights groups (under the banner of End Uyghur Forced Labour) have estimated that as many as one in five cotton garments sold across the world originate from the Xinjiang region, and are likely to have been produced as a result of forced labour.

The supply chains of dozens of multinational apparel companies have been implicated in this, including Adidas, Amazon, Nike, H&M, and many more.

‘Forced labourers in the Uyghur Region face vicious retaliation if they tell the truth about their circumstances,’ said Scott Nova, the Executive Director of the Worker Rights Consortium. ‘This makes due diligence through labour inspections impossible and virtually guarantees that any brand sourcing from the Uyghur Region is using forced labour.’

According to Newsweek, multiple countries including the United States, Australia, and Canada, have announced their officials will be boycotting the Games.

This means that while athletes of these countries will be allowed to participate, such countries will not have an official delegation to the Games.

Speaking in early December, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki stated that U.S. official attendance at the Games would suggest a false sense of normalcy.

She said, ‘U.S. diplomatic or official representation would treat these games as business as usual in the face of the PRC's egregious human rights abuses and atrocities in Xinjiang. And we simply can't do that.’

Similarly, Scottish Sports Minister Maree Todd confirmed that no Scottish government officials will attend the games, writing:

‘The Scottish Government continues to be deeply concerned about reports of serious, widespread and systemic human rights abuses committed against members of the Uyghur and other minority ethnic communities in Xinjiang, as well as by China's overall record of human rights violations, including in Tibet and Hong Kong."

Both AUSA and the University declined to comment on these issues.

When asked if the University agreed with the UK government’s decision to engage in this boycott, a spokesperson responded, ‘This isn’t an issue that we’ll be making any comment on.’

An AUSA spokesperson stated that Sabbatical Officers would not be making a statement, telling the Gaudie, ‘[such a comment] is not under their remits.’


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