Uyghur Group Urges IOC to Move 2022 Winter Games From Beijing

August 14, 2020 Updated: August 14, 2020

The World Uyghur Congress (WUC), the largest overseas Uyghur organization, has urged the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to reconsider its decision to hold the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing in light of the human rights situation in China’s Xinjiang region.

In a formal complaint to the IOC’s Ethics Commission, the WUC said the IOC had “acted in breach of the Olympic Charter by failing to reconsider holding the 2022 Olympics in Beijing following verifiable evidence of genocide and crimes against humanity taking place against the Uyghur and other Turkic Muslims by the People’s Republic of China.”

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Chinese armed police patrol the streets of the Muslim Uyghur quarter in Urumqi, China on June 29, 2013. (Mark Ralston/AFP via Getty Images)

“We hope that the Ethics Committee will engage with the issue we have put before them and call for the 2022 Olympic to be moved if international crimes continue to be carried out against the Uyghurs,” said Michael Polak, a London-based lawyer who prepared the WUC’s submission.

But the IOC responded by saying it “must remain neutral on all global political issues.”

It had “received assurances” from Beijing that “the principles of the Olympic Charter will be respected in the context of the Games,” the IOC said in a statement emailed to The Epoch Times.

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This photo taken on May 31, 2019 shows a Uighur woman (C) going through an entrance to a bazaar in Hotan, in China’s northwest Xinjiang region. (Greg Baker/AFP via Getty Images)

But WUC President Dolkun Isa said, “The IOC can no longer claim ignorance of China’s genocide against the Uyghur people.”

“If the International Olympic Committee allows the Chinese government to host the 2022 Winter Olympics, it will go down as a historically shameful decision,” he said.

The WUC said it had submitted to the IOC evidence of crimes against humanity taking place in Xinjiang, such as mass sterilization, arbitrary detention in internment camps, torture, repressive security and surveillance, and forced labor and slavery.

Dolkun Isa World Uyghur Congress
Dolkun Isa, president of the World Uyghur Congress, speaks to AFP at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, on June 4, 2019. (Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images)

Holding the Olympic Games in Beijing would “be seen as support for the extreme repression suffered by the Uyghur and other Turkic Muslims,” the group said in a statement.

Also, the group said, the IOC may even be “directly involved” in crimes against Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims, as it will be impossible to ensure the products used for Olympic merchandise are not tainted by slave labor, given the opaque nature of the supply chains in China.

According to figures cited by the U.S. Congressional-Executive Commission on China and the UN, as many as 1 million Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities are believed to be detained in Chinese reeducation facilities.

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Uyghurs and Tibetan people demonstrate against China outside of the United Nations (UN) offices in Geneva on Nov. 6, 2018. (Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images)

Former Uyghur detainees previously told The Epoch Times that they were subjected to torture, forced to denounce their faith, and forced to pledge loyalty to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) while held for unknown reasons in often overcrowded facilities.

Uyghur women, meanwhile, have been subjected to forced sterilization, forced abortion, and coercive family planning, a recent report revealed.

The United States has already imposed sanctions on four Chinese officials involved in human rights abuses against Uyghurs, including the Xinjiang region’s Party Secretary Chen Quanguo, who is a member of the CCP’s powerful Politburo.

The U.S. Commerce Department has blacklisted 11 Chinese companies for their involvement in human rights violations in Xinjiang.

In the UK, lawmakers have urged the government to impose similar sanctions on Chinese officials responsible for the abuse in Xinjiang as well as Hong Kong.

Members of the European Parliament have also urged the European Union to take “urgent political action” to curb the Chinese regime’s “dehumanizing actions” against the Uyghurs.

Isabel van Brugen, Emel Akan, and Lily Zhou contributed to this report.