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Tibetan students lock themselves in Olympic ring to protest Beijing match

FILE PHOTO: Staff members work near the logo of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics on display at the Shanghai Sports Museum in Shanghai
FILE PHOTO: Staff members work near the logo of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics on display at the Shanghai Sports Museum in Shanghai, China, December 8, 2021. REUTERS/Aly Song/File Photo

December 11, 2021

LAUSANNE (Reuters) – Two Tibetan schoolchildren chained themselves to the Olympic rings outside the headquarters of the Swiss International Olympic Committee on Saturday to call for an international boycott of next year’s winter games.

The pair were part of the latest protest against the 2022 Olympic Games over Beijing’s human rights abuses and treatment of minorities.

The United States will not send government officials to the 2022 Winter Olympics due to China’s “atrocities” on human rights, earlier this month.

Members of the Tibetan Youth Association in Europe (TYAE) and Students for Free Tibet held a sit-in at the IOC building in Lausanne as officials gathered for a meeting.

Activists demand that countries withdraw from what they call the “Genocide Game,” which they say is being used to smear China’s reputation.

China gained control of Tibet after its army entered the area in 1950 with the so-called “peaceful liberation”. Tibet has since become one of the most restricted areas in the country. Critics, led by exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, say Beijing’s rule is tantamount to “cultural genocide”.

Two activists unfurled a banner over the building’s entrance reading “No Beijing 2022,” while five students went inside the building and staged a sit-in protest.

Tenzing Dhokhar, Campaign Director of TYAE, one of the protesters, said: “Despite international criticism of the IOC and China, the Chinese regime’s human rights abuses in the West Tibet, East Turkestan and Hong Kong remain unabated.

“By cooperating with China, the IOC is making itself an accomplice of the crimes of the Chinese Communist Party, which will be washed away by the Beijing Olympics.”

Police began removing campaigners after three hours of protests. Organizers and a Reuters witness described the protest as peaceful, but the IOC said one of its security officers was injured.

“The IOC is always listening to any concerns directly related to the Olympic Games. We have engaged several times with peaceful protesters and explained our position, but we will not engage violent protesters who used force to enter the IOC building and injure a security guard in doing so,” the IOC said in a statement.

The organization has previously said that it is a force for good and cannot have any influence over sovereign states.

Chinese authorities have been accused of facilitating forced labor by detaining some one million Uighurs and other predominantly Muslim ethnic minorities in camps since 2016.

China denies wrongdoing, saying it has set up vocational training centers to combat extremism.

(Reporting by Denis Balibouse, writing by John Revill, editing by Ros Russell)

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DUSTIN JONES

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