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The Olympics are over. The Uyghur genocide is not

18 02 22

As people collect their medals and drape themselves in the flags of their country at the end of the Beijing Winter Olympics, the persecution of the Uyghur people continues in the backdrop. It is estimated that anywhere between 1 and 3 million Uyghurs are forcibly detained in “re-education camps”, where systemic sexual violence, cultural erasure, birth prevention measures, organ harvesting and torture are commonplace. Outside the camps, Uyghurs are transported across China to work in factories, under prison-like conditions and subject to a mass-surveillance state that monitors their daily movements.

A genocide is taking place

The International Olympics Committee (IOC) says the games should not be political but genocide is woven into this years Olympics both figuratively and literally. The Chinese state has used its platform to whitewash it’s egregious human rights abuses, while the IOC has been criticised for not conducting adequate human rights due diligence to ensure Olympic uniforms and other products for the Beijing Winter Games aren’t linked to grave rights violations in China’s Uyghur region.

This is why activists and campaigners across the globe have coined the 2022 Winter Olympics the ‘Genocide Games’. 

Many countries, including the UK, announced a diplomatic boycott of the Games in light of mounting evidence of the internment camps, forced labour, sterilisation and re-education. Polling consistently shows that the British public is strongly in favour of strong action to support the Uyghur people.

But when we look back on this like we do the Holocaust, Rwandan genocide, the Khymer Rouge, will we as an international community be satisfied we did enough?  If the often-used phrase ‘Never Again’ is not to be turned into ‘Not Again’, then we need to act against this cultural genocide.

What next?

If you would like to know how to support the Uyghur people, here are some actions you can take to show solidarity.

Educate yourself

For meaningful and systemic change to take place, we must first arm ourselves with the knowledge and awareness to do so. Hope Not Hate has a resource hub to help you understand what is going on in Xinjiang. 

Amplify

Our polling found that just over half of the UK population know that the Chinese authorities have locked up anywhere between one and three million Uyghur and other Turkic minorities in “re-education camps”. This is an issue that is still not getting a lot of attention it requires in the media, so it is up to everyone else to make noise. Sharing petitions and resources with your social networks can be a great way to start a conversation.  

Use your voice during the Olympics closing ceremony

If you are on Twitter, you can help shine a spotlight on the atrocities taking place in the Uyghur region by using the hashtag #GenocideGames during the Olympics closing ceremony which starts at noon UK time on Sunday 20 February (there are some suggested tweets you can use here, here and here). 

Buy consciously

1 in 5 cotton garments are tainted with Uyghur forced labour. You can make sure you are not financially supporting forced labour by looking for GOTS or BCI certifications on cotton garments. Better still, ask brands where they source their cotton from and let them know you are aware of the fashion industry’s complicity in the Uyghur forced labour. Support the global campaign to pressure fashion brands to end their complicity in Uyghur forced labour here.

Support Uyghur-led groups

Stop Uyghur Genocide, the World Uyghur Congress, Uyghur Human Rights Project and Uyghur Solidarity Campaign UK are just a few initiatives you can support and follow to keep up to date.

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