Tim Loughton MP: “Boycotting the 2022 Olympics will show China that democracies cannot be bullied, and human rights matter”

A former British Minister from the ruling Conservative Party joins the call on international boycott of Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics.

Tim Loughton, Co-Chair of The All-Party Parliament Group on Tibet (AGGPT), who was recently sanctioned along with other British politicians by the Chinese government for highlighting China’s continued abuse of human rights in Tibet and Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (aka East Turkistan), has released a statement on the international community should boycott 2022 Beijing Olympics.

Mr Tim Loughton’s Full Statement:

“In response to sanctions against us we pledged to call out China’s human rights abuses even more loudly. Boycotting the 2022 Olympics will show China that democracies cannot be bullied, and human rights matter.

On Christmas Eve in 1979 Russia invaded Afghanistan. As a result of that unprovoked act and the subsequent brutal oppression of any Afghanis who got in the way of the occupying Russian forces, 65 countries carried out a full boycott of the 1980 Olympic Games held in Moscow the following summer. Amongst those nations supporting the boycott were strange bedfellows like the US and Iran, Israel and Saudi Arabia, and China.

Whilst governments of countries like the UK, France and Australia supported the boycott they left the final decision to National Olympic Committees and individual athletes. As a result, some British athletes competed whilst our equestrians and hockey players stayed at home. We competed under the Olympic flag and the Olympic anthem replaced the national anthem at the few Gold Medal ceremonies we participated in (in those days.)

My overriding memory of the 1980 Olympics was a triumphant and emotional Daley Thompson collecting his world record beating Decathlon gold medal and belting out God Save the Queen from the podium to the tune of the choral cantata that is the Olympic Hymn.

So, in February 2022 the Winter Olympics are due to be back in Beijing and China really cannot be surprised if this time a bit of what goes around comes around, aimed at them. That is why I have applied to hold a debate in the Commons, including a vote committing the UK to exercise a diplomatic boycott of the Olympic Games if an alternative venue is not found and if Chinese state terror is still being meted out to the Uighurs, Tibetans and others. Additionally, it would be conditional on the Chinese government not lifting sanctions on we 7 Parliamentarians, a British academic and lawyer and sundry British right of centre human rights’ groups.

In response to those extraordinarily inept and counter-productive sanctions against us, the Speaker granted an urgent question debate in which we pledged to call out China’s human rights abuses even more loudly. Subsequently Nus Ghani guided a vote through Parliament recognising the Uyghur genocide; we have heard shocking testimonies of torture at the Westminster Uyghur Tribunal hearings and virtually every week the issue of China’s totalitarian government is raised in Parliament in some form.

We cannot endorse the appalling abuse by sending ministers, royalty and diplomats to join the applauding crowds

In addition, we have been in regular Zoom calls with parliamentarians from the US to Australia, from the European Parliament to the IPU, whose response to China’s attempts at gagging democratically elected politicians is to turn up the volume and impose consequences.

One of those consequences is an internationally co-ordinated diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Olympics. Throughout this month similar motions and debates will be put to parliaments and ministers in initially 11 countries, with a high chance of success. If we can pass a similar motion in the Commons, we will be at the vanguard of showing China that democracies cannot be bullied, and human rights matter.

To China, hosting the 2008 summer Olympics was a huge propaganda coup. They used it to try to convince the world that China was a modern emerging superpower and had changed. It may have emerged since then, but it has certainly not changed. A million Tibetans dead and imprisoned since the 1959 occupation then, a million Uyghurs incarcerated and tortured now.

China should never have been selected as hosts in the first place and whoever thought them fit to uphold the Olympic values of ‘excellence, friendship and respect’ needs sanctioning too.

We know from the Moscow Olympics that the biggest victims of a full sporting boycott were the athletes themselves and so we are not asking them to make that sacrifice. But we cannot endorse the appalling abuse by sending ministers, royalty and diplomats to join the applauding crowds.

By staying at home, a strong message will be sent and we know from the threats they have already made against an anticipated US boycott that they take seriously the loss of face it would represent. That is the least they should be suffering and I hope enough colleagues agree and step forward with their vote to get this motion through Parliament.”

Follow Tim Loughton on twitter: @timloughton

Author: Tsering Passang (Tsamtruk)

Tsering Passang is passionate about Tibet and the Tibetan issue. He was born in a Tibetan refugee camp in western Nepal. An NGO professional with nearly 20 years of experience in international development charities, Tsering has led Tibetan Community UK from 2014 to 2016 as its Chairman. Amongst his pioneering initiatives as the Community Leader, Tsering spearheaded "Tibetans Helping Tibetans" initiative and within months, it resulted in securing the sponsorship of 30 Tibetan refugee children for their education in India from 25 UK-based Tibetan families. Prior to his current appointment as the Director of Tibet Foundation, Tsering served as Special Adviser to the Tibet Society, the world's oldest Tibet support group. He also worked for Tibet Relief Fund for over eight years, raising vital funds for Tibetan children’s education in India and Nepal. From 2001 to 2007, he worked for Tibet Foundation as Art & Culture Programme Manager. Tsering has conducted multiple field trips to India and Nepal over the past two decades. After returning from his 2008 personal trip to Mustang, Tsering saw a need to provide training to those Tibetan teachers working in rural areas. Within a year, with the support of western teaching professionals, Tsering initiated the vital training programme for the teachers. Over 50 Tibetan refugees and ethnic Tibetan teachers from Mustang, Manang, Dhorpatan, Pokhara and Kathmandu attended the trainings delivered in Mustang, Kathmandu and Pokhara. He developed partnerships with the local NGOs and schools in Nepal. From 2014 to 2016, Tsering served on the boards of Tibet Society and Tibet House Trust. He also served as the Chairman and a Trustee of the Tibetan Refugee Charitable Trust. Tsering continues his advocacy work on Tibet. He has attended and engaged with parliamentarians, special advisers and officials from the UK, UN, the US and EU. Tsering has also spoken at important public and closed forums – audience included governments representatives, policymakers, rights advocates, lawyers, journalists, NGO professionals, university students and researchers. In addition to his writings on the Tibetan affairs, published in the British, Nepalese and Tibetan media, Tsering was interviewed by the BBC, Sky News and Reuters. He is also frequently interviewed by the Voice of America, Radio Free Asia and Voice of Tibet. Tsering has conducted special interviews with leading Tibetan political figures - President of the Tibetan Government-in-exile (Central Tibetan Administration based in Dharamsala) and His Holiness the Dalai Lama's former Special Envoy (Washington-based) and former Representative (London-based) for a Tibetan YouTube channel – LondonNey Production. Tsering’s personal blog: www.tsamtruk.com Tsering's latest initiative is the creation of the Global Alliance for Tibet & Persecuted Minorities (GATPM) - an advocacy group with the object of highlighting the issues affecting the Tibetans, Uyghur Muslims as well as other peoples persecuted by the Chinese regime.

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