Rep. Smith chairs hearing on ‘Genocide Olympics’

Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), co-chair of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, chairs a joint hearing entitled “China, Genocide and the Olympics” on Tuesday, May 18
Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), co-chair of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, chairs a joint hearing entitled “China, Genocide and the Olympics” on Tuesday, May 18

Washington, May 19, 2021 | Michael Finan

At a bipartisan, bicameral human rights hearing on Capitol Hill this week, Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) condemned the egregious and ongoing genocide and other atrocities perpetrated by the  Chinese Communist Party (CCP), calling upon the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to find a new host city for the 2022 Winter Olympics or face a boycott of the Beijing Games.

“In granting Beijing host status for the Olympic Games, we are crowning a barbarous regime with laurels while we should be condemning their abuse and genocide,” said Rep. Smith, who has chaired a total of 71 hearings on human rights in China. Click here to read Smith’s full remarks.

“In solidarity with the oppressed and not the oppressor, in solidarity with the victims and not the victimizer—I urge the International Olympic Committee and all interested parties including the United States to find a new host city—or boycott.  I want to see athletes compete, but in a different city,” said Smith.

“To our big corporations, don’t enable or sponsor the ‘Genocide Olympics.’

“When President Clinton delinked human rights and trade with China in May of 1994 and after China joined the World Trade Organization in 2004, the Chinese government  exponentially enhanced its ubiquitous police and military capabilities—and unleashed torture and other abuse on a massive scale. We should not bestow international honors such as hosting the Olympic Games on China given their decades-long record of human rights abuses,” he said.

Chaired by Smith, the joint hearing of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission and the Congressional-Executive Commission on China examined the implications of holding the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, China given the ongoing genocide against the predominately Muslim Uyghurs and other gross human rights violations committed by the Chinese Communist Party.  Entitled “China, Genocide and the Olympics,” the hearing also explored alternatives and ways to leverage the Olympics to improve China’s human rights practices.

“Despite this deplorable record—which includes genocide—we see the International Olympic Committee, the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee, and a host of major corporate sponsors all affirming the decision to hold the 2022 Winter Olympic games in Beijing,” Smith added.

The Lantos Commission invited the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to testify at the hearing, but received no response. Also invited was the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee, which submitted a statement for the record.

One of the panelists at the hearing: Rayhan Asat, whose brother Ekpar continues to be held in solitary confinement by the Chinese government.

Among the panelists who testified at the hearing was House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who encouraged United States officials not to attend next year’s Winter Olympics.

“Let’s not honor the Chinese government by having heads of state go to China to show their support for their athletes,” Pelosi said. “For heads of state to go to China in light of a genocide that is ongoing while you’re sitting there in your seats really begs the question what moral authority do you have to speak again about human rights anyplace in the world if you’re willing to pay your respects to the Chinese government as they commit genocide.”

Testimony was also offered by Dr. Yang Jianli, Founder and President of Citizen Power Initiatives for China; Susan Lawrence, Specialist in Asian Affairs at the Congressional Research Service; Rayhan Asat, Human Rights Lawyer and Advocate and Yale World Fellow; Samuel Chu, Managing Director of the Hong Kong Democracy Council; Reggie Littlejohn, President of Women’s Rights Without Frontiers; and Sophie Richardson, China Director for Human Rights Watch.

China, Genocide and the Olympics

Please join the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission and the Congressional-Executive Commission on China for a joint hearing to examine the implications of hol…

“The Chinese government’s intensifying crackdown undermines the basic rights that essential for the human spirit of the Olympics,” Richardson said. “The IOC’s failure to publicly confront Beijing’s serious human rights violations makes a mockery of its own commitments and claims that the Olympics are a ‘force for good.’”

Susan Lawrence noted Xi Jinping’s stated goals for the hosting the Olympics, including “boosting national pride, to be harnessed in the drive for realization of his ‘Chinese dream of national rejuvenation’; demonstrating to the world the alleged superiority of China’s political system” and “boosting the global profile of Chinese brands…”

“Hosting the Olympics has become the go-to, proven solution for authoritarian regimes to whitewash their crimes, boost their image internationally, and strengthen alliances,” Chu said. “And worse, China used the 2008 Olympics as a catalyst for expanding its security and surveillance apparatus. The IOC must do what they didn’t and refused to do before—ban China from playing and hosting all major sporting events indefinitely.”

When China was awarded the Olympics in 2008, Smith traveled to Beijing to raise the issue of human rights and call attention to efforts by the Chinese Communist Party to arrest dissidents and prevent them from speaking with journalists.

“As the world watched, the Chinese government committed gross human rights abuses in the runup to the 2008 Games,” Dr. Yang Jianli recalled. “In choosing Beijing to host the 2022 Winter Olympics, the [IOC] has chosen to either trust the Chinese government’s assurances regarding human rights—even though Beijing’s record in preparing for the 2008 Olympics was deplorable—or not to care at all. Or both.”

Reggie Littlejohn made comparisons to the 1936 Olympic Games held in Berlin and the credibility and legitimacy it afforded Adolf Hitler’s Third Riech.  “Today, we are confronting another totalitarian regime actively engaging in another genocide,” Littlejohn said. “We must not make the mistake again of allowing a genocidal regime to glory in hosting the world’s most prestigious international event.”

Rayhan Asat shared the story of her brother, Ekpar—a participant in the U.S. State Department’s International Visitor Leadership Program—was arrested when he returned to China, apparently targeted for his participation in the program, and highlight the importance of Congress holding companies accountable.

“The ongoing violence against the Uyghur people doesn’t just dehumanize the people it’s inflicted upon – it also dehumanizes anyone who stands by and lets it happen,” Asat said. “Congress must demand answers from companies who choose to disregard the suffering of the Uyghur people and instead enable the Chinese government to further repress the Uyghurs and other Turkic communities.”

The Lantos Commission also received multiple submissions for inclusion in the record, including from Dr. Susan Yoshihara, President of the American Council on Women, Peace and Security; Dr. David Crane, the former chief prosecutor of the international war crimes tribunal for Sierra Leone; the International Campaign for Tibet; and an open letter to the U.S. Olympic Committee from Women’s Rights Without Frontiers and the Committee on the Present Danger: China.

The 2022 Winter Olympic Games and Winter Paralympic Games are scheduled to take place from February 2-20 and from March 4-13, respectively, in Beijing—the first city in Olympic history to be selected to host both Summer (2008) and Winter Olympic Games.


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