At least 100 people assembled at the Prime Minister’s residence at Downing Street on Olympic Day, 23 June, for a vibrant and noisy rally, demanding that the British government carries out a boycott of the Beijing 2022 Winter Games.
Throughout the two-hour rally, those present raised their voices to condemn the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for its insistence that the Winter Games go ahead in Beijing next year, despite the Chinese government’s human rights record. They highlighted the mass detentions and torture in occupied Tibet, the genocide against the Uyghur people, the growing restrictions on Southern Mongolia’s language and culture and the crackdowns in Hong Kong, including the news that day that the independent newspaper Apple Daily had been forced to close down.
Given the IOC’s ongoing refusal to move the Winter Games, the demonstrators called on the British government, the British Olympic Association, athletes and sponsors to take a stand for human rights by boycotting them.
Several speakers addressed the crowd, with Pema Yoko from the Tibetan Community recalling the violence carried out against protesting Tibetans before the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics, stating that she could not believe history was repeating. Free Tibet CEO Sam Walton raised the crackdown of 2008 and the deterioration of human rights in occupied Tibet under Chen Quanguo, before saying that it was time for governments “to stop being cowards”, imploring them to boycott the games next year.
Other speakers included Benedict Rogers from Hong Kong Watch and Rahima Mahmut from World Uyghur Congress.
The event was convened by Free Tibet in collaboration with several partners, including Tibetan Community in Britain, Liberty in Hong Kong, Power to the Hongkongers and World Uyghur Congress. It followed a dramatic stunt earlier that day in which Free Tibet and several allies dropped a 22-metre banner from Westminster Bridge, demanding a boycott.
These activities were part of a wider Global Day of Action, which saw demonstrations, stunts and other activities, led by Hongkongers, Tibetans, Uyghurs and their supporters and carried out across the world, starting in Australia and concluding in the United States.
As the speeches came to a close, activists vowed to continue working together to press the British government and the British Olympic Association for a boycott of Beijing 2022.