As the eyes of the world turn to China for the 2022 Winter Olympics, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) hopes to showcase their power on a global stage. While the significance of the Olympic Games puts Beijing in the spotlight, as many as one million Uyghur Muslims are being held in concentration camps in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region in Northwestern China.
In October 2020, 39 countries of the United Nations officially condemned the human rights abuses perpetrated by the Chinese Government. Canada, the Netherlands, and the United States have gone so far as to formally classify the ongoing crisis as a genocide. For this reason, it is critical that these nations engage in a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Beijing Olympics. With this approach, athletes will still be able to attend the games and compete in their respective events, but the governments will refuse to send representatives. This will send a clear message to the international community--and to Beijing itself--that the prestige of the games and the opportunity they afford for diplomacy have been tarnished by the dehumanizing treatment of Uyghurs within China's borders.
While the world watches, the Chinese Communist Party is deploying new technologies to make their repression of the Uyghur population more efficient. Surveillance programs like Xinjiang's Integrated Joint Operations Platform uses iris scanning, CCTV, and DNA sampling to track and monitor the region. With these tactics, the CCP has forced Uyghurs into concentration camps where malnutrition, forced sterilization, and death are constant realities. In conjunction with continued efforts to purge the culture of the Uyghurs from the region by banning religious activities and destroying cultural signifiers, these actions amount to a clear act of genocide.
Chinese media has effectively kept the narrative concerning their ongoing crimes against humanity out of the international spotlight. Their control over both domestic and international stories relating to the genocide has ensured positive coverage. Media blackouts, intimidation of survivors, and sanctions on international journalists have all contributed to a troubling growth in genocide denial globally. Historically, this kind of denialism has allowed for the perpetuation of violence against marginalized groups, enabling those who commit genocide to resist pressure and evade accountability.
The 2022 Olympics will serve as part of the coordinated campaign enacted by the Chinese media. The CCP will use the spectacle as an opportunity to further validate their international standing on a global stage. This campaign has also allowed China to cultivate allies around the world, as they furnish their technology to these countries under the guise of national security. In July of 2020, 37 nations sent a letter to the United Nations Human Rights Council in support of China's human rights record, defending the CCP's treatment of Uyghur Muslims. This deliberate campaign of outreach by the Chinese government constitutes a public relations program seeking to normalize human rights abuses world-wide and further highlights China's reach on a global diplomatic scale.
In the 20th century, the international community formed governing bodies largely in response to humanitarian crises. Atrocities like the Holocaust, the Armenian Genocide, and the Rwandan Genocide have shown that the path to catastrophe is littered with small steps of dehumanization. This process of dehumanization is underway now, in China. To fulfill the promises made in the wake of those past crimes, we must do everything we can to stop this one now.
Now, in the 21st century, we must not make the mistake of allowing a genocide to reach its ultimate conclusion. We must expose these ongoing atrocities, and in doing so we may make it clear that we will not tolerate this crime. Now is the time to fulfill that promise, and to ensure that a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Olympics is acted upon by all nations that value the promise of human rights for all. Please urge the representatives of your country to call for a diplomatic boycott by taking action now.