Thirteen lawmakers from Canada’s five federal parties asked the International Olympic Committee to move the 2022 Beijing Winter Games to another country because of China’s human rights violations against the Turkic Uighur minority.
“We have a unique opportunity to come together with all the world’s humanitarians and democrats and take action by refusing to participate in this global sports festival,” read a letter that was initiated by Bloc Quebecois lawmaker Alexis Brunelle-Duceppe, vice-chair of the parliamentary subcommittee.
It said participating in the Games would mean “taking part in a sinister, self-aggrandizing spectacle” that is held for the benefit of a regime, which is committing the worst crimes against humanity and its own people.
It noted that some may advocate not to mix sports with politics and said when there is genocide, the matter is no more politics but human rights and crimes against humanity.
The letter acknowledged that boycotting the Olympics would be punishing athletes and stressed that lawmakers do not want competitors to give up on their dreams.
“However, we believe that there is still time to demand the International Olympic Committee to move the games to another country if the Chinese government continues its genocide campaign,” it read.
The letter was signed by Bloc Quebecois lawmakers Denis Trudel and Stephane Bergeron, Conservative lawmakers Arnold Viersen, Cathay Wagantall, and Kelly Block, Liberal lawmakers Ken Hardie, Nathaniel Erskine-Smith, and Sameer Zuberi, New Democratic Party lawmakers Heather McPherson, and Jenny Kwan, and Green lawmakers Elizabeth May and Paul Manly.
In October 2020, the House of Commons Subcommittee on International Human Rights recognized China’s actions against the Uighurs as genocide.
China’s violations against Uighurs
China’s Xinjiang region (East Turkistan) is home to 10 million Uighurs. The Turkic Muslim group, which makes up around 45% of Xinjiang’s population, has long accused China’s authorities of cultural, religious and economic discrimination.
China stepped up its restrictions on the region in the past two years, banning men from growing beards and women from wearing veils and introduced what many experts see as the world’s most extensive electronic surveillance program, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Up to 1 million people, or about 7% of the Muslim population in Xinjiang, have been incarcerated in an expanding network of “political re-education” camps, according to US officials and UN experts.
A 2018 Human Rights Watch report detailed a Chinese government campaign of “mass arbitrary detention, torture, forced political indoctrination, and mass surveillance of Xinjiang’s Muslims.”
China has repeatedly denied allegations that it is operating detention camps in its northwestern autonomous region, claiming instead that they are “re-educating” Uighurs.
*Writing by Sena Guler
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