By Choekyi Lhamo
DHARAMSHALA, Oct. 20: Following the impactful protest at the torch-lighting ceremony in Athens, young activists in exile have come together, calling for a total boycott of the Winter Olympics, due to be held in four months in Beijing. Dharamshala-based student organization SFT staged a protest with 14 men and women with #NoBeijing2022 sign across their t-shirts on Tuesday, as part of the global movement against the Olympic flame handover to Beijing Organizing Committee delegation in Greece.
SFT- India Program Coordinator Tenzin Passang said in the press statement, “China is once again preparing to use the 2022 platform as a part of its ‘soft power’ arsenal to help divert global public opinion away from its abysmal human rights record, and ultimately, positively reshape its standing in the world.” The statement also disagreed with the IOC President Thomas Bach’s speech at the ceremony where he said that “the Olympic Games always build bridges”.
“The Chinese government has publicly stated that Beijing 2022 will be ‘open and inclusive’, create a ‘harmonious world’ and promote ‘social progress’, just as it did ahead of the Beijing 2008 Summer Games, but to no avail,” it further denounced IOC’s complicity. The international Athens press conference also echoed similar messaging that argued that both the committee and Western world should not let the elite international games in Beijing next year as it legitimized the rights abuses in East Turkestan, Tibet and Hong Kong.
“The legitimacy the international community bestowed upon the Chinese Communist Party by allowing it to host the Olympics, even when it had just launched a massive military and security crackdown in Tibet, signalled to Chinese leaders how little we in the free world cared about their brutally repressive policies and behavior,” SFT international Campaigns Director Pema Doma said in the press conference on Tuesday. Pema Doma and three other Tibetan activists were previously detained for simply standing on the public sidewalk outside the venue at ancient Olympia in Greece.
Several activists in Australia also staged a ‘No Beijing 2022’ campaign at the Channel 7 headquarters for their potential coverage of the Olympics. “Our Executive Officer Zoë Bedford and a group of activists visited the Channel 7 Headquarters at Martin Place to present a joint letter from a global alliance concerned about sports washing of genocide and human rights abuses in relation to the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics,” the Australia Tibet Council post said in solidarity with the global cross-movement campaign.
As of now, all the campaigners who were detained earlier had been released by authorities, except for the three activists that interrupted the distinguished torch-lighting ceremony in Athens on Monday that caught the attention of the international media.