A coalition of 180 rights group on Wednesday called for a boycott of next year's Beijing Winter Olympics tied to reported human rights abuses against ethnic minorities in China, reports the AP. The games are to open in one year, on Feb. 4, 2022, and are set to go forward despite the pandemic. The coalition—composed of groups representing Tibetans, Uighurs, Inner Mongolians, residents of Hong Kong, and others—issued an open letter to governments calling for a boycott "to ensure they are not used to embolden the Chinese government's appalling rights abuses and crackdowns on dissent." Rights groups have previously asked the Switzerland-based International Olympic Committee to move the games from China. The IOC has largely ignored the demands and says it's only a sporting body that does not get involved with politics.
The groups said because of the IOC's inaction, "it now falls on governments to take a stand and demonstrate that they have the political will to push back against China's reprehensible human rights abuses." Beijing was host to the 2008 Olympics, which it promised would improve human rights in the country. Instead, the groups say the prestige of the Olympics has led to "a gross increase on the assault on communities living under its rule." The situation of the Uighurs in northwestern China has received most of the attention. Since 2016, China has swept a million or more Uighurs and other predominantly Muslim minorities into prisons and camps where they're subjected to forced labor, torture, sterilization, and political indoctrination, according to researchers and rights groups. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken calls it genocide, though China denies any abuses.
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