The US is talking to allies about boycotting 2022 Beijing Olympics over genocide against Uyghurs in Xinjiang

A Chinese flag flutters in front of the IOC headquarters during a protest by activists of the International Tibet Network against the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics on Februay 3, 2021 in Lausanne.

  • The US and its allies are discussing a possible boycott of the 2020 Beijing Olympics.
  • “It is something that we certainly wish to discuss,” the State Department said on Tuesday.
  • China is facing growing backlash over what’s widely considered to be genocide against the Uyghurs.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The US is considering a joint boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing over the Chinese government’s human rights abuses, the US State Department said Tuesday.

“It is something that we certainly wish to discuss,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price said. “A coordinated approach will not only be in our interest but also in the interest of our allies and partners.”

“This is one of the issues that is on the agenda, both now and going forward,” Price added, making clear that a final decision has not been made.

In a later statement to Yahoo Sports, an unnamed State Department official stressed that no such talks have yet taken place. “We have not discussed and are not discussing any joint boycott with allies and partners,” the official said.

The US government has been ramping up criticism of and pressure on the Chinese government over human rights violations, which led to a public spat between Secretary of State Antony Blinken and China’s top diplomat in Alaska last month.

The Biden administration in late March slapped new sanctions on Chinese officials over what the Treasury Department described as serious human-rights abuse against the Uyghurs in Xinjiang. The EU, the UK, and Canada – in coordination with the US – have also hit China with sanctions over its treatment of the Uyghurs.

Human rights groups say the Chinese government has forced over a million Uyghur Muslims and other minorities into detention camps in the Xinjiang region, though Beijing has vehemently denied the allegations.

Blinken has said what’s happening to the Uyghurs amounts to genocide, while calling on China to release “all those arbitrarily held in internment camps and detention facilities.”

There have been growing calls for countries and companies to boycott the 2022 Beijing Olympics.

Human rights lawyer Djaouida Siaci told Axios that a boycott could open the door for the International Criminal Court to begin an investigation into the allegations of genocide in Xinjiang.

GOP Sen. Mitt Romney in a New York Times op-ed last month said the US should engage in a diplomatic and economic boycott of the 2020 Beijing Olympics.

“Prohibiting our athletes from competing in China is the easy, but wrong, answer. Our athletes have trained their entire lives for this competition and have primed their abilities to peak in 2022,” Romney said.

“The right answer is an economic and diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Olympics. American spectators – other than families of our athletes and coaches – should stay at home, preventing us from contributing to the enormous revenues the Chinese Communist Party will raise from hotels, meals and tickets,” Romney added. “American corporations that routinely send large groups of their customers and associates to the Games should send them to U.S. venues instead.”

The last time the US boycotted the Olympics was during the 1980 summer games in Moscow.

The US Olympic Committee did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Read the original article on Business Insider

China made a ‘La La Land’-inspired propaganda musical about the life of Uyghur Muslims, which omits all mention of mass surveillance and oppression

china musical uyghurs wings of songs
A still from the 2021 Chinese propaganda musical “The Wings of Songs.”

  • The state-produced “The Wings of Songs” released in China on March 28.
  • It shows Uyghur Muslims living peacefully alongside Han Chinese people.
  • In reality, Uyghurs are heavily monitored and detained in their homeland of Xinjiang.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

China released a propaganda musical that purportedly depicts the life of Uyghur Muslims, which fails to mention mass surveillance and systematic human-rights abuses.

“The Wings of Songs,” which premiered in China on March 28, follows the story of a Uyghur, a Kazakh, and a Han Chinese man who form a musical group in the Xinjiang region.

In the film, the relationship between Uyghurs and Han Chinese is described as the “seeds of a pomegranate,” according to The New York Times.

In reality, Beijing has since at least 2017 sought to erase Uyghur culture, detaining more than one million Uyghurs in hundreds of prison camps across Xinjiang.

Early this year, the US State Department said the crackdown amounted to genocide. Canada and the Netherlands have since said the same.

Chinese authorities have in recent years forced Uyghurs to adopt mainstream Han Chinese culture, tried to slash Uyghur birthrates with birth control plans, and monitored their every move.

But “The Wings of Songs” glosses over all of these issues, according to reviews from Agence France-Presse and the Times.

Prominent examples of culture washing in the film include the fact that there are no references to Islam, AFP said, adding that more than half of the population of Xinjiang are Muslims.

Similarly, the Uyghur men in the film are depicted as clean-shaven and drinking alcohol, while Uyghur women are seen without their traditional headscarves, the Times said.

“The notion that Uyghurs can sing and dance so therefore there is no genocide – that’s just not going to work,” Nury Turkel, a Uyghur-American lawyer, told the Times.

“Genocide can take place in any beautiful place.”

uighur protest china
A protest against China’s treatment of the Uyghurs held in Istanbul, Turkey, in October 2020.

While making headlines abroad, the film appears to have been a damp squib at the Chinese box office.

As of Monday, it had generated just $109,000, according to data from the movie-ticketing company Maoyan, cited by the Times.

The state-run Global Times tabloid reported that the film was inspired by the success of the Oscar-winning 2016 musical “La La Land.”

Last month the US, European Union, Britain, and Canada announced sanctions against two Chinese officials for “serious human rights abuses” against Uyghurs.

Last week António Guterres, the UN secretary general, said that he had begun negotiating with Beijing to secure a visit to Xinjiang so that allegations of genocide could be examined.

China has denied the existence of the camps, and state media has in recent weeks slammed the US for meddling in its domestic affairs.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Uighur women fleeing Xinjiang detention camps say they were victims of systemic rape: BBC report

uighur protest china
Ethnic Uighur demonstrators take part in a protest against China, in Istanbul, Turkey October 1, 2020.

  • Several women told the BBC there was systemic rape inside China’s detention centers for Uighurs. 
  • The stories follow other reports of physical, sexual, and mental abuse inside the camps. 
  • China has repeatedly denied any abuse and said the facilities were “re-education centers.” 
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Women who fled detention camps in Xinjiang gave several accounts of systemic rape inside the centers, the BBC reported. 

Tursunay Ziawudun, who spent nine months in the detention centers before eventually fleeing to the US, told the BBC that women were taken from their cells “every night” and raped. 

“Perhaps this is the most unforgettable scar on me forever,” she told the BBC. Ziawudun said she was gang-raped three times.

She said men would select women they wanted from the cells, and have them taken to a dark room where there were no security cameras. She said the men wore masks even before the pandemic. 

In May 2018, Ziawudun said she and a cellmate were taken out and shown to a Chinese man. Her cellmate was taken into one room, where she could be heard screaming, according to Ziawudun’s account to the BBC. Ziawudun said she was sent to the “dark room” – even after the man was told she was having medical issues and bleeding. There Ziawudun told the BBC: “They had an electric stick, I didn’t know what it was, and it was pushed inside my genital tract, torturing me with an electric shock.”

The BBC could not completely verify Ziawudun’s story but reviewed travel documents and immigration records that corroborate the timeline of her story; her description of the camp matched satellite images, and her description of the treatment inside the camps matched those told by former detainees. 

Gulzira Auelkhan, a Kazakh woman who was detained for 18 months in the camps told the BBC that she was forced to strip the Uighur women naked and handcuff them. After the Chinese men left them, she would clean the room. 

“Then I would leave the women in the room and a man would enter – some Chinese man from outside or policeman. I sat silently next to the door, and when the man left the room I took the woman for a shower,” Auelkhan said. 

In recent years, the Chinese Communist Party constructed hundreds of prisons and detention centers in Xinjiang and the surrounding region, where the predominantly Muslim Turkic minority group lives. At least one million Uighurs have been detained in these camps. 

Previous reports from the camps have alleged that detainees were forced to consume forbidden foods in Islammass surveillance, and dealt with various other forms of psychological and physical torture.

Chinese officials have repeatedly denied any abuse and claimed the camps were for re-education and to prevent extremism. 

“The Chinese government protects the rights and interests of all ethnic minorities equally,” a spokeswoman told the BBC.

Adrian Zenz, an expert on China’s policies in Xinjiang told the BBC that the recent accounts provide “authoritative and detailed evidence of sexual abuse and torture at a level clearly greater than what we had assumed.”

Previous reports have also shown that Uighur women were forcibly sterilized and given unwanted abortions as part of China’s campaign to keep Muslim minorities’ birth rate down.

Uighurs in Xinjiang, including some in detention camps, have also been moved across China to forcibly work in factories, a report from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute found. 

A December Center for Global Policy report found that in 2018, at least 570,000 people belonging to ethnic minority groups in Uighur regions were sent to pick cotton. 

Last month, then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called China’s actions towards the Uighurs tantamount to genocide.

On January 19, Pompeo said “we are witnessing the systematic attempt to destroy Uighurs by the Chinese party-state” in the western Chinese region of Xinjiang.

Read the full story at the BBC »

Read the original article on Business Insider