Zumretay Arkin, spokeswoman for the World Uighur Congress, along with 160 other human rights groups sent an open letter a month ago to the president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Thomas Bach, requesting that the upcoming winter Olympics in Beijing be withdrawn from China.

A coalition of Tibetan, Uighur, persecuted groups from southern Mongolia, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and other groups promoting democracy and human rights in China, delivered the letter to Thomas Bach inviting IOC to “Reverse its decision by giving Beijing the honor of hosting the Winter Olympics in 2022.”

According to The Associated Press, the signatories sought to remind Bach that his predecessor, Jacques Rogge, had previously been warned about the controversial decision to award the 2008 Summer Olympics to Beijing. 

However, those warnings were ignored and ended up affecting the reputation of the IOC because of its erroneous belief that the 2008 Olympics would bring about a change in the human rights policies of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

After receiving the letter with the petition requesting the suspension of the Beijing Olympics, the IOC organized an online meeting last week that included groups representing Tibet and Hong Kong.

At that meeting the IOC said, “Awarding the Olympic Games to a national Olympic committee does not mean that the IOC agrees with the political structure, social circumstances, or human rights standards in its country. The IOC has neither the mandate nor the capability to change the laws or the political system of a sovereign country.”

Although in its disclaimer the IOC seems to claim that it intends to stay out of politics, the reality is that the IOC has observer status at the United Nations and has repeatedly participated in international disputes, for example announcing its efforts to bring peace to North and South Korea at the 2018 Winter Olympics.

Arkin had a virtual meeting with IOC member Juan Antonio Samaranch Jr. who also oversees preparations for the upcoming Winter Games.

On that occasion, Arkin asked him, “Why should China, a country running concentration camps with at least 1 million Muslim Uighurs being detained, be allowed to hold the Olympics?” 

The IOC responded that it would not take a position on human rights issues since it does not consider itself a political body. It simply limits itself to organizing sporting events. Samaranch’s response was disappointing to Arkin and to any human rights group committed to China’s cause. 

Among the groups currently persecuted under the CCP is Falun Dafa, also known as Falun Gong, an ancient Chinese spiritual discipline. It was also the subject of large peaceful demonstrations against the 2008 Beijing Olympics. 

Because of its effects on health and its spiritual responses, Falun Dafa became very popular during its public dissemination in China between 1992 and 1999. By early 1999, there were an estimated 100 million practitioners in China. 

On July 20, 1999, CCP leader Jiang Zemin ordered it to be eradicated within three months. From that day forward, a brutal persecution of Falun Dafa practitioners began, which continues to this day even outside of China. 

The persecution of Falun Gong is an atheistic campaign ordered by the Chinese Communist Party, led by the 610 Office, a special extra-constitutional task force created specifically to exterminate Falun Dafa practitioners.

The campaign focuses on the implementation of a system of atheistic propaganda and smear campaigns against Falun Dafa, a program of ideological conversion and forced re-education, and a variety of illegal coercive measures, including arbitrary detention, forced labor, physical torture, forced removal of organs, and death.