Tibetan activists protesting in front of the IOC headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland. Photo: file

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Lausanne, Switzerland — As the International Olympic Committee (IOC) gathered at its headquarters for the annual Olympic Summit, a dozen members of Tibetan Youth Association of Europe (TYAE) and Students for a Free Tibet (SFT) staged a peaceful sit-in and drop a banner at the Olympic building. They called for a global boycott of the 2022 Beijing Olympics because China is committing crimes against Tibetans, Uighurs, Hong Kongers and Southern Mongolians.

On December 11, 2021, young Tibetan activists from the Tibetan Youth Association in Europe and Students for a Free Tibet staged a sit-in at the IOC headquarters in Lausanne, where officials were meeting to discuss plans for the 2022 Beijing Olympics. The activists sent a message to the IOC and its president, Thomas Bach, criticizing them for failing to condemn Chinese atrocities and uphold the human rights of Tibetans, Uyghurs, Hong Kongers, and Southern Mongolians.

Eight activists entered the building and began chanting "No more games of genocide". Five young Tibetans began a sit-in and locked into each other in solidarity, shouting what has happened to Tibetans, Uyghurs, and all groups oppressed by China. While the sit-in was in the building, the young activists pulled up banners outside the building.

At the iconic Olympic five rings outside the IOC headquarters, two Tibetan youth chained themselves to the structure and demanded that the IOC end its complicity with China in human rights violations. In addition, two activists pulled up a banner at the entrance to the building that read "No to Beijing 2022."

Police soon arrived at the scene and detained the activists, handcuffing them to police vehicles. They were released after being detained for four hours. The protesters who chained themselves to the Olympic rings outside the IOC building voluntarily removed themselves and were not detained by the police.

“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. 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. Tibetans demand a boycott of Beijing 2022,” said Tenzing Dhokhar, Campaigns Director of TYAE.

“There is a genocide happening right now. Millions of Uyghurs are in concentration camps. Yet, just like during 1936 Nazi Games, the IOC is again looking the other way. Genocide is and always must be the red line,” said Uma Lobsang, a 21 year old activist who was handcuffed inside a police vehicle after being extracted from the IOC Building.

A statement from Students for a Free Tibet urged the international community to stand for human rights and boycott the Olympics or go down in history as active participants and complicit parties to the Genocide Games.

“The IOC has failed human rights. To allow China to host the Olympic Games despite the CCP’s violence against women, ranging from the silencing of Peng Shuai, to the use of rape as a form of torture against Uyghur women, or the religious persecution of countless Tibetan nuns, the IOC has declared that the CCP’s treatment of women is acceptable. As a woman, I am horrified to see the CCP not only ignore Peng Shuai’s story but even contribute to her pain by silencing her. We ask the world to support Peng Shuai as well as the countless other women who are currently being silenced by the CCP by boycotting Beijing 2022,” said Tenzin Kunchok, a a 24-year-old Tibetan student activist, who was part of the sit-in inside the Olympic building.

“It in unacceptable that China host the games that should symbolise values like friendship, respect and excellence. China is responsible for the worst human rights crisis inside Tibet, East Turkistan, Taiwan, Hong Kong etc. With your actions, you legitimise the systematic oppression of Tibetans. Open your eyes. There is a genocide happening right now. Boycott the Genocide Games of Beijing 2022,” said Thinle Shitsetsang, a 20-year-old Swiss-Tibetan activist, in a video message directed to the IOC and Thomas Bach.

The protests have gained a lot of attention and have been widely covered by national and international media. With less than six weeks until the start of the 2022 Beijing Olympics, activists around the world have been staging protests calling for a boycott of the Games to prevent China from hosting the symbolic event.