New York [US], February 18 (ANI): Chinese government censorship seriously marred the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said on Friday and added that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and corporate sponsors have not spoken out about the government's human rights record.
The Chinese government's crimes against humanity targeting Uyghurs and other Turkic communities in Xinjiang have continued during the Games, as have serious violations in Hong Kong and elsewhere throughout China, the HRW said in a statement.
"The full spectrum of the Chinese government's rights abuses continued throughout the Beijing Games, whether crimes against humanity in Xinjiang or censorship in the Olympic Village," said Yaqiu Wang, senior China researcher at HRW. "Through their silence, the IOC and its corporate partners have been complicit in Beijing's efforts to 'sportswash' human rights violations before a global audience."
According to Human Rights Watch, the Chinese government's censorship apparatus intensified during the Olympics.
During the opening ceremonies on February 4, Chinese authorities dragged away Dutch reporter Sjoerd den Daas as he was delivering a live report to the Dutch public broadcaster NOS. While the IOC claimed the incident was an "isolated event," den Daas said that reporters had been "repeatedly obstructed or stopped by the police" while covering the Games.
Finnish cross-country skier Katri Lylynpera said that Chinese officials asked her to delete photos she had posted on Instagram showing water flooding in an Olympic Village building. The Foreign Correspondents' Club of China in its annual report released prior to the Games cited "unprecedented" challenges for reporting in and about the country.
Before the Games began, Chinese authorities warned athletes against "any behavior or speeches" that violated "Chinese laws and regulations." The government has in the past routinely prosecuted Chinese citizens and occasionally foreigners for criticizing the authorities.
Germany's luge gold medalist Natalie Geisenberger, who had criticized the Chinese government prior to the Games, recognized the risks to her safety and said she would only comment on China after leaving the country. Swedish gold medalist Nils van der Poel, upon returning home, said it's "extremely irresponsible" to award the Games to "a country that violates human rights as blatantly as the Chinese regime is doing."
British-American skier Gus Kenworthy, while still in Beijing, expressed regret that his final Olympics was in a place he'd rather avoid: "I don't think countries should be allowed to host the Games when they have things happening that are so egregious, and there are insane human rights atrocities happening."
Chinese authorities also censored content that was not overtly political but deemed damaging to their carefully curated image of the Olympics. During a livestream with the Chinese state broadcaster on February 10, Bing Dwen Dwen, the Beijing Games' mascot, spoke in a deep male voice. The voice, which did not correspond to the cute, childlike look of the mascot, caused the dismay of many Chinese netizens. The hashtag "Bing Dwen Dwen has spoken" was subsequently removed from the social media platform Weibo. The clip was also quickly scrubbed off the Chinese internet.
"Chinese authorities continued to stringently censor content regarding Olympian and tennis star Peng Shuai, who, in November, made a sexual assault allegation against former vice premier Zhang Gaoli. Peng's situation remained so sensitive that the interpreter handling the Chinese translation of a pre-Games news conference did not mention her name when relaying a journalist's question concerning her for IOC President Thomas Bach," the HRW said.
In a news conference with the IOC on Thursday, Chinese government official Yan Jiarong claimed that detention camps and forced labor in Xinjiang were "lies." The IOC spokesman, Mark Adams, did not challenge Yan's remarks but instead called the discussions surrounding Xinjiang "not particularly relevant to the press conference or the IOC." (ANI)