Logos of global civil society groups. Photo: file

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Dharamshala, India — Over 250 global civil society groups urged UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, to reconsider his decision to attend the Beijing Olympics by issuing an open letter to him.

On January 14, 2022, more than, 250 global civil society groups representing Tibetans, Uighurs, Hong Kongers, Chinese, Southern Mongolians, Taiwanese, and other affected and concerned communities wrote an open letter to Antonio Guterres, UN Secretary-General, asking him to reconsider his decision to attend the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.

Recently, the UN Secretary-General accepted an invitation to attend the 2022 Beijing Olympics and a coalition of 250 civil society organisations expressed serious concerns about his attendance, highlighting human rights violations perpetrated by the Chinese Communist government.

The open letter stated, “Since the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympic Games, we have witnessed human rights abuses across all regions under Chinese rule spiral into an abyss. Extensive evidence highlights the government’s systematic use of torture and suppression of human rights defenders, excessive use of force against peaceful protesters, and large-scale arrests of journalists, women’s rights activists, and lawyers.”

“Freedom and democracy in Hong Kong have been entirely dismantled; Tibet is completely sealed off from the outside world; and state-led genocide and crimes against humanity—the gravest human rights abuses under international law—including mass detentions, torture, sexual abuse, and persecution are being carried out against Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims,” it added.

The letter continued by asserting, “The extreme nature of these violations has been widely acknowledged by United Nations (UN) special procedures mechanisms and treaty bodies. In June 2020 more than 50 independent UN human rights experts expressed grave concern at China’s mass violations and called on “the international community to act collectively and decisively to ensure China respects human rights and abides by its international obligations.”

The consortium of civil society groups further said, “The Chinese government’s disregard for human rights can also be seen inside the UN by repeatedly blocking targeted sanctions against rights-abusing governments at the UN Security Council, attempting to silence debate at the Human Rights Council, and refusing to use its considerable leverage in some of the worst human rights crises."

The letter addressed to the Secretary-General and urged him to reconsider his decision by stating, “In light of the evidence of the severe and downward spiral of human rights abuses, it is highly inappropriate for you, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, to attend any part of the Beijing 2022 Olympic Games.”

The letter concluded by urging Guterres, “Your participation would undermine the United Nations’ efforts to hold China accountable and go against the core principles enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and relevant treaties. Furthermore, as the highest representative of the UN, your attendance will be seen as credence to China’s blatant disregard for international human rights laws and serve to embolden the actions of the Chinese authorities. We, therefore, urge you to reconsider your decision to attend the 2022 Beijing Winter Games.”

The above letter was undersigned by over 250 global civil rights groups including International Tibet Network, World Uyghur Congress, Students for a Free Tibet, International Campaign for Tibet, Keep Taiwan Free, China Against the Death Penalty, Humanitarian China, Southern Mongolian Human Rights Center, We the Hongkongers, Australia Tibet Council among many more international institutions.

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