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UK/China: diplomatic protests over Beijing Winter Olympics shine 'significant' spotlight on human rights

‘If other nations follow suit this will send an important message on human rights to Beijing’ - Sacha Deshmukh 

Responding to an announcement from the UK that its diplomatic staff will not attend the Winter Olympics in Beijing next year, Sacha Deshmukh, Amnesty International UK’s CEO, said: 

“Coming after the US and Australia, the UK’s move is significant and timely, and if other nations follow suit this will send an important message on human rights to Beijing.

“As we’ve seen with numerous sporting events in recent years, landmark occasions like the Olympics are when a host country is very much in the international spotlight - simply saying and doing nothing on human rights would be tantamount to allowing sportswashing to do its work.

“We’ve long said that it’s vital that the world takes a strong and united stand over the appalling human rights situation in China.

“From the mass persecution of the Uighurs, to the draconian clampdown on free speech in Hong Kong and the apparent silencing of people like the tennis player Peng Shuai - the human rights situation in China is absolutely dire and deteriorating all the time.

“We’d like the UK to be adopting a similarly assertive approach in all of its interactions with China, including by ensuring that human rights issues are always factored into discussions around possible trade deals.  

“China may react angrily to these diplomatic protests, but there’s one obvious way it could end them: by dismantling Uighur ‘training camps’ and ending the horrifying systematic abuse of Muslims in Xinjiang, by reversing the coordinated attacks on human rights in Hong Kong, and by allowing Peng Shuai and others in mainland China to exercise their free speech without risk of arrest or disappearance.”

Hong Kong crackdown

Earlier today, three leading Hong Kong pro-democracy figures - Jimmy Lai, Gwyneth Ho and Chow Hang-tung - were convicted over their involvement in the city’s annual Tiananmen vigil on 4 June 2020, convictions which Amnesty condemned as a clear flouting of international law, part of a continuing crackdown on free expression in Hong Kong. 

For more on the human rights situation in China, go here

For information on Amnesty’s Beijing Winter Olympics campaign, go here

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