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The Government of China is accused of human rights abuses against the Uyghurs people. Media around the world is reporting that China is incarcerating more than one million Muslims, most of which are Uyghurs. The Uyghurs have been in internment camps without any trial.

If so, this would be the largest detention of minorities since the days of Adolf Hitler and World War II.

It is alleged that thousands of children have been forcibly taken away from their parents during this process. Also, it is also alleged that there is labour in the form of slavery and forced sterilization. An estimation suggests that five to 10 per cent die in these internment camps each year. Is China torturing these people too?

According to one email message that Athletics Illustrated received, “the Uyghurs are tortured in these camps frequently through methods such as waterboarding, forced labour, assault, and organ harvesting. The 2022 Beijing Olympics should be cancelled to take a stand against this injustice,” it read.  

An apparent prison camp

China denies these allegations that they are accused of carrying out in Xinjiang. China is calling the system “re-education camps” which apparently there are up to 380 of them.

The Chinese believe that the Uyghurs are trying to wage war for independence insisting that there is bombing, sabotage and civic unrest, but China is accused of exaggerating the threat in order to justify repression of the Uyghurs.

The Xinjiang region to the far west end of China is mostly desert and it is there that cotton is grown and is picked by this forced labour made up of Uyghurs.

Three very similar historic human rights atrocities from the not-too-distant past come to mind around these alleged human rights complaints. The issue of civilizing indigenous people in North America from 100 to 300 years ago. There was the African slave movement in the Southern US. The similar “civilizing” of the North American indigenous people was carried out by religious groups primarily Catholics and given carte blanche freedom to exact the civilizing methods without oversite. It is only recently that scanning technology has been used to find mass burials of indigenous North American children at religion-based boarding schools. And of course, the alleged internment camps look eerily similar to the German camps of WWII.

The 2022 Beijing Winter Olympic Games already have had several diplomatic boycotts. The next step is to formally and completely boycott the Games. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has a role to play in this. The IOC should lead, here, and the Games can be reassigned elsewhere in 2023.

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