The Genocide Games: Tibet, Inner Mongolia, and Hong Kong
By Shari Gordnier
The 2022 Winter Games are not the first Olympics China has hosted, and they are also not the first to be embroiled in controversy over human rights abuses and genocide. The 2008 Summer Games hosted by Beijing were also embroiled in controversy over cultural genocide in Tibet. The lead up to the 2008 Games was marked by pro-Tibet protests. Major protests occurred in London and San Francisco when the Olympic flame was present.
Tibet has been the target of cultural genocide, “the systematic destruction of traditions, values, language, and other elements that make one group of people distinct from another,”
since 1959 when it was officially incorporated into modern-day China. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has instituted policies of targeted erasure of the Tibetan culture, language, and religious practice in an effort to promote the CCP’s vision of one uniform Chinese culture. Tibet, in many ways, lay the groundwork for the genocide China has been carrying out in Xinjiang and the policies it is beginning to implement in Inner Mongolia.
As most of the international attention falls on genocide in Xinjiang and Tibet, it is important not to forget the people of Inner Mongolia who are experiencing many of the same policies. The Mongolian Language is being phased out of schools and ethnic Mongolians are being targeted to integrate into Han Chinese culture. The CCP’s language programs in Inner Mongolia run under the slogan, “Learn Chinese and become a civilized person.” Classrooms in Inner Mongolia are being purged of historical and cultural materials that reference traditional Mongolian culture. Many ethnic Mongolians also practice Tibetan Buddhism so policies that the CCP has implemented in Tibet to crackdown on its practice are also impacting ethnic Mongolians.
The policies that the CCP is implementing in Xinjiang, Tibet, and Inner Mongolia are egregious and deserve to be condemned by the IOC and supporting the 2022 Olympic Games, but they are unlikely to directly impact anyone participating in the Games. The same cannot be said for the laws the CCP has established in Hong Kong. Beijing has placed serious limitations on the once-free press of Hong Kong and broadened its reach on internet surveillance. These methods of surveillance and silencing which were perfected in Hong Kong are now posing risks to Olympic coverage and participants. American athletes have been advised to bring burner phones to the games to avoid possible cyberattacks, and the mandatory health app for the Winter Olympics has been found to ban keywords related to human rights in China and has significant security flaws.
The crackdown on the free press not only in Hong Kong but in all of China also poses concerns for international journalists who travel to Beijing to cover the Games. NBC, who has the broadcasting rights for the Games, has stated that it will include the geopolitical context of the Games while focusing on the athletes. This will undoubtedly be challenging as reporters attempt to do the circumstances justice, while not violating Chinese laws that are extremely harsh towards any critique of the CCP.
By allowing Beijing to host the 2022 Winter Olympics without any form of condemnation for its genocidal actions the IOC is not only legitimizing the CCP’s oppression in Tibet, Inner Mongolia, and Hong Kong but placing athletes and reporters who do speak out at risk.
To learn more about the cultural genocide of Tibet visit: https://www.genocidewatch.com/timestreams
Shari Gordnier is an Early Warning Analyst at Genocide Watch
The views and opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Genocide Watch