Human rights groups ask IOC to move Olympics from China

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Photo credit Visitors to Chongli, one of the venues for the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, past by the Olympics logo in Chongli in northern China's Hebei Province on Thursday, Aug. 13, 2020. China’s repression in Tibet, the status of the exiled Dalai Lama, and its treatment of ethnic minorities spurred violent protests ahead of Beijing’s 2008 Olympics. It could happen again. China is host to the 2022 Winter Olympics with rumblings of a boycott and calls to remove the games from Beijing because of widespread human rights violations. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

TOKYO (AP) — China's repression in Tibet, the status of the exiled Dalai Lama, and its treatment of ethnic minorities spurred violent protests ahead of Beijing's 2008 Olympics.

It could happen again.

China is host to the 2022 Winter Olympics with rumblings of a boycott and calls to move the games from Beijing because of alleged human rights violations.

International Olympic President Thomas Bach was presented with that demand ahead of the body's executive board meeting in Switzerland on Wednesday by a coalition of human-rights groups representing Tibet, Uighurs in China's Xinjiang region, Hong Kong and others. In a letter, the group asked the IOC to “reverse its mistake in awarding Beijing the honor of hosting the Winter Olympic Games in 2022.”

The letter said that the 2008 Olympics had failed to improve China's human rights record, and that since then, it has built “an Orwellian surveillance network” in Tibet and incarcerated more than a million Uighurs, a mostly Muslim ethnic group. It listed a litany of other alleged abuses from Hong Kong to the Inner Mongolia region, as well as intimidation of Taiwan.

China has repeatedly denied the charges and accused other countries of interfering in its internal affairs. It at first denied the existence of the camps for Uighurs, and then said they were job training centers to battle terrorism.

“Through vocational education and training, Xinjiang has taken preventive counter-terrorism and de-radicalization measures, effectively contained the once frequent terrorist activities, and protected the right to life, health and development of all ethnic groups to the best extent," foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said last week. "Over the past four years there hasn’t been a single terrorist attack in Xinjiang.”