GENEVA, January 13, 2022 (AFP) – The director of the NGO Human Rights Watch has warned that China is using the Winter Olympics to “clean up” its “horrible” human rights record, urging countries to: participate in it. Diplomatic boycott.
“It is clear that the Chinese government is trying to use the Beijing Olympics to cover up its terrible repression,” Kenneth Roth said in an interview with AFP ahead of the release of Human Rights Watch’s annual report on Thursday.
The United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and Canada have announced that they will not send their political representatives to attend the Winter Games in Beijing on February 4, alleging that China is violating human rights, especially against the Muslim Uyghur minority in the region. Xinjiang (Northwest).
The director of Human Rights Watch stressed that other countries should also refrain from sending senior officials to the Games, to help “expose mass atrocities” in the region, as well as “China’s crushing of basic freedoms in Hong Kong.”
He also noted that Human Rights Watch is not asking athletes to boycott the Games, but insisted that governments cannot just “pretend everything is normal.”
“At the very least, the international community should get involved in the diplomatic boycott of the Games,” he added.
Asked Thursday about such statements, China’s Foreign Ministry accused the NGO of being “as usual full of bias” and “fabricating lies” in order to “sow discord.”
“The regrettable words and actions of Human Rights Watch that seek to harm the Olympic cause will not achieve its goal,” ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told reporters.
Roth insisted that Olympic sponsors take a stand. “Instead of promoting” to try to cover up abuses, he said, companies should “highlight what is happening in Xinjiang.”
Activists have denounced the imprisonment of at least one million Uyghurs and other minorities, mostly Muslims, in “re-education camps” in Xinjiang. Beijing claims to be vocational training centers aimed at curbing Islamic extremism.
“All companies should do everything they can to avoid endorsing or legitimizing the Chinese government’s repression,” Roth said, noting that automaker Tesla’s recent decision to open a dealership in that region shows an “absolute lack of sensitivity.”
However, the director of Human Rights Watch said that many countries seem more determined to criticize China at the United Nations, in New York and Geneva.
But he regretted that UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who plans to attend the opening of the Games, “observed absolute silence and refused to criticize the Chinese government.” He concluded his speech by saying, “This is a massive global failure.”
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