Lausanne, Switzerland – Two Tibetan students chained themselves to the Olympic rings outside the headquarters of the International Olympic Committee on Saturday to call for an international boycott of next year’s Winter Games.
The pair were part of the latest protest against the Games over Beijing’s abuse of human rights and its treatment of minorities.
The United States will not send government officials to the 2022 Winter Olympics due to China’s human rights “atrocities,” it said earlier this month.
Members of the Tibetan Youth Association in Europe (TYAE) and Students for a Free Tibet held a sit-in at the IOC building in Lausanne as officials gathered for a meeting.
The activists demanded countries withdraw from the event they have called the “Genocide Games,” which they say are being used to burnish China’s reputation.
China seized control of Tibet after its troops entered the region in 1950 in what it calls a “peaceful liberation.” Tibet has since become one of the most restricted areas in the country. Critics led by the Dalai Lama, the exiled spiritual leader, say Beijing’s rule amounts to “cultural genocide.”
Two activists unfurled a banner reading, “No Beijing 2022,” over the building’s entrance, while five students got inside and held a sit-in protest.
“Despite mounting international criticism of the IOC and China, the Chinese regime’s human rights abuses in Tibet, East Turkestan, and Hong Kong continue unabated,” said protester Tenzing Dhokhar, campaigns director of TYAE.
“By collaborating with China, the IOC is making itself an accomplice of the Chinese Communist Party’s crimes, which will be sports-washed by the Beijing Olympics.”
Police started removing the protesters after three hours. Organizers and a Reuters eyewitness described the protest as peaceful, but the IOC said one of its security guards was injured.
“The IOC always listens to all concerns that are directly related to the Olympic Games,” the IOC said in a statement. “We have engaged multiple times with peaceful protesters and explained our position, but we will not engage with violent protesters who used force to enter the IOC building and injured a security guard by doing so.”
The organization has previously said it is a force for good and cannot have any influence over sovereign states.
Chinese authorities have been accused of facilitating forced labor by detaining around a million Uyghurs and other primarily Muslim minorities in camps since 2016.
China denies wrongdoing, saying it has set up vocational training center to combat extremism.
In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.