Protests continue throughout the world against the “genocide games.”
by Ruth Ingram
More than a thousand protesters gathered under the shadow of London Piccadilly’s iconic Eros statue to witness a cardboard cut-out of Xi Jinping, President of China, receive accolade after accolade for his services to genocide.
A masked Thomas Bach, representing the president of the International Olympic Committee, smiled and cheered as he placed gold medals around the neck of the captain of the PRC team. He was decorated with highest honors for the most people detained in concentration camps since World War Two; for creating Tibet, the least free place on earth (according to Freedom House’s assessment); for the fastest destruction of a democracy in the world in Hong Kong, and a national security law which has criminalized even the smallest acts of dissent; and last but not least, for being one of the Ethiopian government’s war on Tigray’s largest international backers, which has killed more than 150,000 people.
The crowd, waving banners, placards and their own independence flags, erupted in support of the honors, shouting, “shame on you Xi Jinping!” The national anthems of each of the aggrieved groups echoed into the night across the capital’s theatre land.
Announcing the awards, Isabela Rodrigues, researcher for the Stop Uyghur Genocide group, said that granting the world winter sports competition to China had been, “a fateful decision” and “a huge error of judgement.” This would “go down in history,” she said, but not, she added without remembering all those who resisted it, protested it, boycotted and stood against it.
The controversial games, now dubbed by many the “Genocide Games,” have been marred in controversy and demands for their cancellation, removal to a different venue, a full boycott and latterly for a diplomatic snub. Following America’s lead, several countries have refused to send high officials and dignitaries, the latest surprise addition being India, furious at Beijing’s decision to appoint Qi Fabao, regimental commander in the Peoples Liberation Army who was severely injured during a high altitude border clash with India last year in which many Indian soldiers were killed.
Protests have erupted around the globe as activists and those who have lost loved ones have called out the decision to hold the prestigious event against the background of human rights atrocities and genocide continuing apace around the Middle Kingdom.
In addition to London, Washington and New York saw supporters brave wind and torrential rain to lend their backing, Turkey’s large community of Uyghur exiles walked 12 kilometers to gather in solidarity outside Olympic House in Istanbul, Canadian supporters also crowned an effigy of Xi with an array of medals, and Melbourne saw a large convoy of cars parade through the city advertising the Genocide Games and urging people to cold shoulder the sponsors by refusing to watch the event on television.
Cross party MP’s came out in force in London, with prominent supporters of the Uyghur cause Sir David Alton, Afzal Khan and Nus Ghani addressing the catalogue of abuses currently being meted out on Turkic Muslims on China’s Western flank. Sir David condemned the whitewashing of atrocities that were “subverting the rule of law,” and “snuffing out the flame of freedom.” “Not since 1936 have we seen the Games so debased,” he said, urging those in the free world not to give up the struggle. “We must keep alight the flame of freedom. Hope still remains,” he said.
Under a gigantic flashing neon of major sponsor Coca Cola, lighting up the darkness of the square, the crowd was unstoppable. Other sponsors, such as Airbnb, Intel, Procter & Gamble, Visa, Toyota, to name but a few, were condemned and shamed. MP Nus Ghani vowed not to “let China off the hook.” “We will never forgive the ongoing genocide of the Uyghur people,” she said, adding that any company complicit in Uyghur slave labour would be hounded and blacklisted. “We, the British people will not be cowed,” she said.
Gulnaz Kerim, a young Uyghur activist whose father’s entire family has disappeared into a black hole of camps, detention and draconian prison terms, urged people not to watch the Games. Organizers of the Games, she pointed out should care deeply about human rights and building a better world. Awarding the event to China, proves they don’t, she concluded.
Beset by the eyes of a disapproving world, the ghost of COVID, and the shortage of snow so severe that water has to be shipped in from seventy kilometers away to be transformed into snowy flakes, Beijing is surprisingly upbeat. The world watches askance, but Beijing interprets this as “sour grapes, selfish and petty minded.” Politicizing the Games is “doomed to fail,” reported Beijing’s mouthpiece, the Global Times.
“When world leaders, athletes and audiences across the world in front of the screens enjoy and celebrate the success of the Games, it will represent a heavy slap in the face of some Western countries and forces that badmouth the event. Reality will prove that all their strategies to slander the Games and China are unsuccessful, and will cost them their own international image.”
Protesters out in force throughout the world might wonder whose international image is in fact being tarnished by the Games.