By Choekyi Lhamo
DHARAMSHALA, Apr. 1: A coalition of 200 campaign groups urged the CEO of Snickers, Grant F. Reid, to immediately cancel its sponsorship of the Beijing 2022 Olympic Games in an open letter on Wednesday. The public letter comes after Snickers failed to respond to a private letter in January, following the announcement that the company is one of the two non-Chinese sponsors of the Beijing Games, alongside European brand EF Education First.
The letter called on the company to “uphold company’s strong human rights policies and practices, all of which are in serious jeopardy due to its partnership with Beijing 2022 which is being hosted by the Chinese government – one of the world’s worst human rights violators.” The activist groups said that the Chinese government sees the 2022 Games as an “opportunity” to improve its image by investing millions of dollars in a public relations campaign to encourage other nations and businesses to invest in the country.
“Snickers is benefiting from a situation in which millions of Tibetans face systematic human rights violations on a daily basis. The company needs to do right by its own human rights commitments, and stop profiting off a regime that is using the Olympic Games to bolster its international reputation and whitewash its brutal crackdown,” said Mandie McKeown from the International Tibet Network (ITN).
The coalition raised concern that Snickers will be legitimizing China’s attempt to use the Olympics to “sport wash a draconian crackdown against freedom and democracy.” The letter also noted that Tibet was listed the least free country in the world alongside Syria, and said that millions of Muslims, Uyghur, Kazhak and Uzbeks, are locked in “re-education camps” by the Chinese administration.
Pema Doma from Students for a Free Tibet said in a press release, “Mars Wrigley is now faced with a basic choice: it can either do the right thing and terminate its partnership with a government spearheading one of the world’s worst human rights crackdowns in history or pursue a policy of ‘business as usual’ that will only make the situation worse.” Snickers was previously the official chocolate for the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing. The American global manufacturer agreed to become the exclusive supplier of chocolates for 2022 Beijing Olympics with Chinese officials last December.
Last week, a similar plea was made to house sharing platform Airbnb to withdraw from Olympic sponsorship, citing deteriorating human rights condition in Xinjiang and Tibet.