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Biden Called on to Boycott 2022 Beijing Games

March 18, 2021 by Kate Michael

WASHINGTON — Dhondup Wangchen is having déjà vu, and it isn’t pleasant for him. The Tibetan filmmaker, imprisoned by the Chinese government in 2008 on charges related to his documentary, Leaving Fear Behind, is once again protesting Beijing hosting the Olympics. Though this year, he’s thankful to do it under the political asylum of the United States. 

“The sole reason I was imprisoned was because of my strong stance against China hosting the 2008 Olympics. Now here we are again,” he said through an interpreter at a protest press conference in Lafayette Square, outside the White House, on Wednesday morning.

Wangchen, along with like-minded protesters from Students for a Free Tibet, the Campaign for Uyghurs, We The Hongkongers, and others, gathered in advance of Secretary of State Anthony Blinken’s meeting with foreign ministers Yang Jiechi and Wang Yi on Thursday, March 18 in Alaska. This is to be the first high-level U.S.- China meeting since the Biden administration took office. 

The groups called on Biden and Blinken to boycott the 2022 Olympics — which they are alternately calling the ‘2020 Genocide Games’ or the ‘Beijing Olympic Shame Games’ — as a diplomatic tool to pressure China to comply with international human rights law, including Uyghur genocide.

U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee Spokesman Jon Mason previously put out a statement that opposes boycotts as they “have been shown to negatively impact athletes while not effectively addressing global issues.” The administration, however, has yet to declare its position on a boycott.

The Olympic games are set to open in Beijing on February 4, 2022.

Pema Doma, campaigns director at Students for a Free Tibet, said she finds it “unconscionable that the Winter Olympic Games are going on in China” even as China is engaged in human rights violations. “How can members of the international community plan to engage in friendly sporting competition… while our cultures are being annihilated?”

She said that granting Beijing the Olympic games is akin to giving the Chinese government a stamp of approval — or legitimacy for its actions — around the world, and “emboldens China to trample on our dignity and wipe out our chance of survival.” 

She asked that, instead of supporting Beijing, the Biden administration “make clear that there is a red line that no government can ever cross, and that line is genocide… If these games go ahead once again, [it is] the death of human rights and death of the new world order.”

Tursunay Ziawudun, an Uyghur camp survivor was also on hand to share her harrowing experiences including sexual abuse, rape, torture, and political indoctrination. 

“Inside the camp, I faced so many unbelievable and terrible tortures,” said Ziawudun through an interpreter. “I experienced it with my own eyes, and I lived through it. I am out, but I still deal with serious health conditions. They damaged me.”

And Frances Hui, an activist, asylum seeker, and director at We The Hongkongers, joined with the call to boycott the Beijing Olympics as she objects to the fact that China, committing human rights abuses, would be honored to host the Olympics games while so many of her friends and family are dishonored by the country.

“China is not planning to let Hong Kong be Hong Kong, neither will they do the same for Uyghurs or Tibetans. I want to tell the IOC that this is personal to me and millions… who can never return home for their entire life.”

Wangchen, who spent six years in a Chinese jail for his challenge to the 2008 Beijing Olympics, said, “I’m urging the Biden administration… to take some responsibility and safeguard human rights.”

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