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The Genocide Games: Xinjiang


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By Shari Gordnier


The IOC awarded China the 2022 Winter Olympic Games before reports began to emerge about mass detentions of Uyghurs in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR, Xinjiang). The IOC has refused to take a stand on the genocide by continuing to move forward with the games despite the detailed reports of continued persecution. Genocide Watch considers China to be at Stage 9: Extermination and Stage 10: Denial.


Since 1949 when the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) came to power they have executed numerous campaigns and policies aimed at increasing the Han population in Xinjiang to assert more control of the mineral and natural resource-rich region. While oppressive measures have always been part of the CCP’s policy towards Xinjiang, they began to escalate in 2013 with the launch of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), an initiative designed to increase trade via the construction of new roads, ports, and other infrastructure internationally, which relies heavily on the CCP having complete control over Xinjiang.


The CCP continued to increase its oppression in Xinjiang by targeting the Uyghurs under the guise of anti-terror policies. In 2017, reports of mass detentions in “Re-Education” camps began to surface where Uyghurs are tortured, beaten, raped, forced to recite CCP propaganda, renounce their religious beliefs, and many families never see their loved ones again after they are detained. Despite international reporting and condemnation of these camps, they continue to operate, and the CCP denies any wrongdoing. In the past year and a half, additional reports have begun to emerge regarding Uyghurs being used for slave labor and forcibly relocated to other provinces and cities within China to act as factory workers. The issue of slave labor has become entrenched in the debate around the 2022 Winter Games.


Juan Antonio Samaranch Salisachs is chairman of the IOC’s coordination commission for the 2022 Olympics. He also runs the Samaranch Foundation which is funded by the Chinese sportswear company ANTA Sports, which repeatedly pledged to continue to use cotton produced in Xinjiang despite accusations regarding the use of slave labor. Additionally, the IOC awarded the official uniform contract for both the Tokyo 2021 and Beijing 2022 Olympics to the Hengyuanxiang (HYX) Group. HYX Group boasts about its use of Xinjiang cotton and operates an affiliated factory in Xinjiang.


The IOC has repeatedly stated that while it is committed to upholding human rights it must remain neutral on all global political issues and therefore cannot move or delay the 2022 Games. However, being sponsored by and employing companies that proudly state their ties to slave labor is not a statement of neutrality—it is a statement of support. The CCP is committing genocide and the IOC is profiting from it.


For more information on the Uyghur Genocide visit: https://www.genocidewatch.com//country-pages/people's-republic-of-china

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

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