“Alternative Olympic Opening Ceremony” in London Aims to Challenge Beijing’s “Genocide Games”

Date: Thursday 3 February 2022
Time: 18:20-20:30 
Where: Piccadilly Circus, London 
What: Tibetans, Uyghurs, Hongkongers and Tigrayans unite to protest the IOC’s complicity in the CCP’s crimes against humanity on the eve of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics. 

In advance of the opening of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics Games, Tibetans, Uyghurs, Hongkongers and Tigrayans will host an alternative opening ceremony in central London. Joined by campaign groups and supportive MPs, they will condemn the decision by the International Olympic Committee to proceed with the event despite the crimes against humanity being carried out by the Chinese Communist Party.

The alternative opening ceremony will take place hours before the official opening ceremony for the Winter Games on 4 February in Beijing. It will be part of a Global Day of Action in which groups from at least 20 countries will voice their opposition to the Winter Games and urge the wider public to show solidarity with those living under CCP rule or affected by its foreign policy.

Tenzin Wangdu, Chair of Tibetan Community in Britain said:

“The 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics were preceded by brutal crackdowns in Tibet and the transformation of Tibet into a police state. In the past 14 years, things have only deteriorated. The IOC’s decision to award Beijing a second Olympics is a sick insult and an unforgivable error of judgement. It shows that the IOC has no concern for justice or human rights. We renew our call for everyone to boycott these bloodstained Winter Games. We call on everyone to turn their attention away from the Chinese Communist Party’s propaganda event and to join us in our struggle for freedom.”

The alternative opening ceremony will start at 18:20 on Thursday 3 February, with an opening statement from representatives from each community followed by speeches from Afzal Khan, Lord Alton and Nus Ghani, who have been supportive of the No Beijing 2022 campaign.

The remainder of the event will consist of colourful but determined activities including musical performances and poetry readings, a mock medal ceremony for Chinese President Xi Jinping and the lighting of our own Olympic torch.

The Hongkonger community said (Hong Kong Aid, Power to Hongkongers, Hong Kong Liberty, Hongkongers in Britain): 

“We Hongkongers are boycotting the Beijing Winter Olympics because we do not believe the CCP, who has had a long history abusing human rights, conducting genocide, and destroying democracy, deserves to be “awarded” as an Olympic Games host. We further condemn the IOC for turning a blind eye to their horrible acts, betraying Olympism’s value to respect for universal fundamental ethical principles. We urge the international community to stand in solidarity with us. To boycott them by not watching it, by calling out CCP’s hypocrisy, and by spreading awareness about what is going on in Tibet, East Turkestan, Tigray and Hong Kong.”

The alternative opening ceremony is the culmination of a long-running campaign against the decision by the IOC to award Beijing a second Olympic event, despite a dramatic surge in human rights abuses by the Chinese government since the 2008 Summer Olympics. This includes:

  • The detention of at least two  million Uyghur, Kazakh, and Uzbek Muslims in “re-education camps”, where they are forced to endure systematic torture, rape, and political re-education.
  • The finding that the CCP has separated at least 80% of Tibetan children from their parents and into colonial boarding schools, where they face intense political indoctrination.
  •  Draconian security measures in Hong Kong, including the National Security Bill, which have effectively criminalised protest and removed what civil liberties existed in Hong Kong.
  • Attacks on the culture and language of Southern Mongolians.

The scale of the human rights abuses perpetrated by Beijing, including the recognition by numerous governments that it is committing genocide against the Uyghur people, has led to the 2022 Winter Games being widely known as the “Genocide Games”.

Rahima Mahmut, UK Director of the World Uyghur Congress (WUC) and Executive Director of Stop Uyghur Genocide (SUG), said:

“We are holding an alternative opening ceremony to remind the world – our leaders, corporations, the International Olympics Committee, and all of those watching – that a genocide is being perpetrated beyond the bounds of the Olympic Park. Whilst fireworks are set off for opening celebrations, millions of my fellow Uyghurs are tortured and violated in concentration camps. While the world watches media coverage of ski slaloms, my Uyghur brothers and sisters are subject to constant surveillance. Whilst athletes are presented with medals, Uyghur mothers mourn for children that have been stolen from them and indoctrinated in state-orphanages. This will prove to be an indelible moment of shame for everyone that remained complicit, particularly the IOC and Thomas Bach.”

The alternative opening ceremony and wider day of action are also being organised and attended by people affected by the CCP’s increasingly confrontational foreign policy. This includes the Tigray Youth Network, who oppose the Ethiopian government’s ongoing siege of Tigray, which has killed around 150 thousand people, and displaced a further 2.2. million Tigrayans, policies that have received material and diplomatic support from the Chinese government.

Rowena from the Tigray Youth Network said:

“Tigray Youth Network is boycotting the Winter Games because of China’s involvement in arming the Federal government of Ethiopia to continue the genocidal war on Tigray;  China voted against the UN Human Rights Council motion to set up a three-member investigate team citing the war is an internal matter and objected a statement by the U.N. Security Council calling for an end to the violence in Tigray and to spotlight the millions in need of humanitarian assistance.”

Organisers include:

Free Tibet

Stop Uyghur Genocide

Tibetan Community UK

Uyghur Community UK

Hong Kong Aid

Tigray Youth Network

Atlas Movement

Yet Again UK

World Uyghur Congress

Global Alliance for Tibet & Persecuted Minorities

For media inquiries, please contact: 

John Jones, Free Tibet, UK | +44 (0)777 068 1938 | john@freetibet.org 

Isabela Rodrigues, Stop Uyghur Genocide, UK | +44 (0)797 0414 6522 | I.Rodrigues@uyghurcongress.org

Author: Tsering Passang (Tsamtruk)

NGO Professional | Activist | Author | Founder and Chairman, Global Alliance for Tibet & Persecuted Minorities (GATPM)

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