Brussels: calls mount for boycott of 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics

There has been much discussion of the possibility of a boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympics, due to be hosted in Beijing in February.

The deteriorating human rights situation in China - forced organ harvesting, the imprisonment and persecution of Muslim Uyghur minorities, suppression of the media, the draconian “National Security Law” imposed on the citizens of Hong Kong on June 30th of last year and enforced with chilling brutality - may be just the tip of the iceberg.

Recent debate on the wisdom of handing the Chinese Communist Party a propaganda coup has drawn parallels with the Berlin Olympic Games of 1936 - 'Hitler's Olympics" - during which the Nazi leader basked in attention just three years before the outbreak of the Second World War, and his programme of extermination of Jews, Gypsies, disabled people, and other minority groups - Holocaust.

In 1936 Judge Jeremiah Mahoney, president of the Amateur Athletic Union, had led efforts to boycott the Berlin Olympics. He pointed out that Germany had broken Olympic rules forbidding discrimination based on race and religion. He argued that participation would indicate an endorsement of Hitler's Reich.

More recently, in 2014, calls for a boycott of the Sochi Winter Olympics in Russia on the basis on human rights abuses perpetrated by the Putin regime fell on deaf ears: subsequently, just four days after the February 23rd closing ceremony, Russian troops took over the Supreme Council - the Crimean Parliament.

The 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, which had faced calls for boycotts or cancellation on human rights grounds, which were ignored, thus giving considerable prestige to Putin’s regime.

U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham, who argued in favour of a boycott of the Sochi games in 2014, told NBC: “I love the Olympics but I hate what the Russian government is doing throughout the world,” he said, posing the question: "If you could go back in time, would you have allowed Adolf Hitler to host the Olympics in Germany?"

After Vladimir Putin launched his troops into Crimea the Illegal annexation of the Peninsula followed, along with Russian-backed military operations in Ukraine's Donbas region, which included the downing of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17, with the loss of 283 passengers and 15 crew.

During a recent conference in Brussels, where delegates debated the issue of forced organ harvesting, former vice-President of the European Parliament, Edward McMillan-Scott called for a boycott of the games.

Forced organ harvesting, a dehumanising practice which has seen as many as 10,000 people die so their organs can be sold on the open market, or given to ailing Communist Party officials, does not constitute Genocide as defined by the United Nations in 1948, but it does target specific groups, including practitioners of Falun Gong. Edward McMillan-Scott, however, noted that the China Tribunal, represented at the conference by London-based human rights lawyer Hamid Sabi, Counsel to the Tribunal, considered China's actions in this respect as coming very "close to Genocide."

The most senior individual in China, Xi Jinping, must have ordered the persecution of the Uyghur population, which includes organ harvesting, and that chain of command is very important in determining Genocide. We hope that in December we will have a finding that is critical for world public opinion in placing the responsibility directly with the Chinese leadership.

Edward McMillan-Scott.

Referring to the 2008 Beijing Olympics, which was boycotted by senior EU officials, he stated: "I would like to see a political boycott of the Winter Olympics, which take place in Beijing between the 4th and 20th February 2022, and I believe that would draw the attention of world opinion to the persecution of these minorities, in particular the crime of Genocide against the Uyghurs, Tibetans, Falun Gong, and others within China."

Belgian human rights activist, Andy Vermaut, speaking of "this organ theft from individuals, who are perfectly alive and healthy... the Falun Gong who have been butchered, and their organs sold as a commodity..." introduced a new term into the debate: "Organcide".

As the opening ceremony of the 2022 Winter Olympics approaches, calls for a boycott are expected to grow louder, and instead of being the propaganda coup President Xi Jinping is expecting, the calls will raise awareness of the human rights atrocities being committed in the name of Communism.

Campaigners have focused on Beijing’s targeted repression of Uyghurs in Xinjiang, which some Western governments have called ‘genocide.' Calls to shun what activists label the ‘Genocide Games’ will grow as the opening ceremony approaches, increasing risks for governments, corporates, and investors — whether they decide to boycott or not.

Eurasia Group.

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Gary Cartwright

Gary Cartwright

Gary Cartwright is publishing editor and Brussels correspondent of EU Today.

An experienced journalist and author, he specialises in environment, energy, and defence.

He also has more than 10 years experience of working as a staff member in the EU institutions, working with political groups and MEPs in various policy areas.

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