The Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics kicked off on February 4, with the Uyghur genocide still raging in East Turkestan (“Xinjiang” to China). This is the same as a wedding taking place next to a funeral. One of the most common and long-held rules of etiquette is not to hold a wedding on the day of a neighbor’s funeral. How is this rule so easily broken, and whom does it harm? As a veteran Uyghur journalist, my place in this scenario is on the funeral stage, so even though my heart is full of pain, my conscience is at ease, and my pen is free. Let me drop a few lines for future generations to memorize.
How did this happen?
Is it because the media and human rights organizations have been unable to fully expose the genocide? No! The world has seen 380 camps on satellite images, leaked Chinese secret documents, and a sharp decline in Uighur birth rates over the past two years. The world has heard the grievances of relatives of Uighurs living in nearly 40 countries and the testimony of more than 30 camp witnesses. As Uyghur leader Rabiye Qadir has said, investigators do not even need to go into the region to determine genocide.
The Uyghur genocide has been on the international agenda for at least three years. China is, of course, denying the accusation, and many countries that are economically dependent on dictatorships support China. It is easy for a primary school student to know who is honest and who is insincere just by looking at the list of those who support and oppose China’s Uyghur policy. Look at the reality:
These are the eight countries that have recognized the violence against the Uyghurs as genocide: the U.S., Canada, the U.K., France, Belgium, Lithuania, the Czech Republic, and the Netherlands.
On January 19, 2021, Mike Pompeo, the United States Secretary of State stated that “the People's Republic of China, under the direction and control of the Chinese Communist Party, has committed genocide and crimes against humanity against the predominantly Muslim Uighurs …” On February 23, Canada’s parliament declared China’s treatment of Uyghurs genocide. Lawmakers also voted to pass an amendment asking Canada to call on the International Olympic Committee to move the 2022 Winter Olympics from Beijing “if the Chinese government continues this genocide.”
On January 20 this year, France's parliament issued a resolution stating that the National Assembly “officially recognises the violence perpetrated by the People's Republic of China against the Uyghurs as constituting crimes against humanity and genocide.”
In an interview with NBC News, Russian President Vladimir Putin backed China’s Uyghur policy:
I met certain Uyghurs , what I heard with my own ears, that on the whole they welcome the policies of the Chinese authorities in this area.
But he didn’t mention who they were, whether representing the Uyghurs or the regime. He continued:
They believe that China has done a great deal for people who live in this part of the country ….”
Putin has not hidden his pro-China stance, saying “Moscow doesn’t see Beijing as a threat but as a friendly nation.”
Also, Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan has said China's take on the Uighur issue was completely different from what was being reported in the Western media:
Because of our extreme proximity and relationship with China, we actually accept the Chinese version.
This reality shows that holding the Olympics in Beijing is the result of money prevailing over morality, power over justice, in the second decade of the 21st century.
What does it mean to hand the Winter Olympics to China? Obviously, this is nothing more than saying to China, “What you are doing is nothing, and even if you do something worse, there is no power in the world to stop you.”
In response to a question about his message to the oppressed Uyghur population of China, International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach, in his pre-Games news conference, said:
… with regard to … the Uyghur population, the position of the IOC must be, given the political neutrality, that we’re not commenting on political issues.
Does Thomas Bach see the eight countries that have recognized the Uyghur genocide as “hostile forces that do not see China’s development,” as China does?
IOC Vice-President John Coates recently said that “The IOC does place a very high emphasis on human rights,” but he went on to state that pressuring Beijing about Xinjiang was not in the IOC’s “remit.”
Clearly, there are certain political issues in every country, and no one expects all political issues to be resolved by the Olympics. However, when politics runs in the direction of committing genocide, the world has the right to expect an appropriate stance on the matter — that of stopping the murderers instead of colluding with them.
“We have to respect the sovereignty of the countries who are hosting the Games,” Coates said.
Genocide is not a matter of sovereignty; it is destruction against human beings and an act against the rule of nature and the order of the universe. No state has the right to commit or lead others to commit genocide, and any charter of an organization that tolerates genocide is complicit.
At the end of the pre-Games conference, Bach contradicted his previous statement of making “no comment on politics” by speaking for tennis star Peng Shuai. When Bach was asked why he had not said one word in three months about Peng’s chilling sexual assault allegation against a former top Chinese official, he answered, “If she wants to have an inquiry, of course, we would also support her in this, but it must be her decision.” The real root of the problem is that Peng Shuai cannot make her own decisions in this matter, and she cannot speak as she wants.
Are IOC leaders that naïve, or do they lack the vision to understand the concept of genocide and what it is like to be voiceless in a one-party regime?
Recent research by “The Daily Beast” revealed that the business interests of some IOC members suggest that their links to Beijing go beyond sports. The investigation found that IOC VP Coates is chairman of William Inglis & Son Ltd., an Australian thoroughbred horse auctioneer. At one Inglis sale in 2019, horses worth over A$3.5 million were sold to the “secretive” China Horse Club, and this has attracted scrutiny for its mysterious membership and ownership structures. A further A$1.5 million (USD 1.5 million) worth of horses was sold to the club at another auction last year. In total, Inglis’s auctions last year saw horses worth A$18,861,500 (over USD 13 million) sold to buyers based in China.
The report also mentions participation in Inglis’s cup of horses from the Xinjiang Uyghur autonomous region. Inglis has organized the sale of a number of horses to at least one major Xinjiang owner and breeder. The province, plays an important part in China’s horse industry, with Chinese tycoons establishing stables and breeding and training programs there.
Coates is not the only of the IOC’s 101 members to resist suggestions that the organization might do anything to apply pressure to Beijing with regard to human rights abuse.
IOC President Bach attracted criticism during his IOC election campaign and one rival, a Swiss lawyer, insisted: “[Bach] uses his position to his benefit so that he can gain contracts for the companies he represents.”
Bach's statement that “we do not get involved in politics” is not only betraying oppressed people, including Uyghurs, but also the Olympic goal of contributing to building a peaceful and better world by educating youth through sport practiced without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit.
Let’s put aside the national and international impact of the Olympics in Beijing; just imagine part of a possible scene of genocide based on previous testimonies, which include torture tracking, detention and abuse.
At the opening ceremony, Chinese officials posed with an athlete of Uyghur descent lighting the torch in the opening ceremonies. In a column, the Jerusalem Post compared the scene to the Olympic Games in Nazi Germany in 1936.
Yes, there is no report about mass murder in “Xinjiang.” It may not stem from the mercies of Xi Jinping, and actually, the police-state status of the region would not allow it to be reported. The 1948 Genocide Convention offers a broader definition of genocide that includes “mental harm,” preventing births or “forcibly transferring children,” when part of a systematic effort to destroy a particular group — all of which apply to the situation in “Xinjiang.”
What makes the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics unique? The answer is: The scene, the wedding taking place adjacent to a funeral As I recall my eight loved ones who are being detained in the terrific camps now, I say loudly that these are the Genocidal Olympics! The Bloody Olympics! The Complicity Olympics!
For more information about this topic, see our special coverage When sports are political: The other side of Beijing 2022