ATHENS (Reuters) - Human rights activists urged governments and athletes worldwide to boycott the 2022 Winter Olympics in China, saying that anything less would make the world complicit in what they called 'genocide' by Beijing.
China's treatment of minorities has come under increased scrutiny in the run-up to the games, scheduled from Feb. 4-20. Activists protested at Ancient Olympia on Monday, where the torch lighting ceremony was held.
"The Olympic Torch is supposed to represent peace and hope, but for our people who are living under the brutal Chinese Communist Party this represents global complicity in China's extreme repression," said Uyghur-Canadian Zumretay Arkin, Programme and Advocacy Manager of the World Uyghur Congress, an umbrella organisation working for the rights of Uyghurs.
Chinese authorities have been accused of facilitating forced labour by detaining around a million Uyghurs and members of other primarily Muslim minorities in camps since 2016. China denies wrongdoing, saying it has set up vocational training centres to combat extremism.
Rights groups and U.S. lawmakers have called on the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to postpone the Games and relocate the event unless China ends what the United States deems ongoing genocide against Uyghurs and other Muslims.
Arkin said more than 40 members of her family had either disappeared or were interred in camps.
"We are in Athens to tell the international community that the Olympic Games are being handed over to a country actively committing a genocide," she told a news conference in Athens.
There was a heavy police presence around the venue, at a central Athens hotel.
On Monday three activists unfurled a banner reading 'No Genocide Games' https://www.reuters.com/lifestyle/sports/beijing-games-flame-lit-olympia-be-flown-china-tuesday-2021-10-18 and a Tibetan flag at Ancient Olympia, while a day before a protest was held at the Acropolis in Athens. A number of activists were detained.
(Editing by Peter Graff)