Over one hundred protesters from Tibetan, Uyghur, and Hong Kong activism and solidarity groups came together to commemorate Human Rights Day and demand a stronger boycott of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.
Events began prior to the main protest as, in the early afternoon on Friday 10 December, staff activists and protest organisers from across the #NoBeijing2022 movement gathered outside the Chinese Embassy. There they held an enormous banner reading: “BOYCOTT BEIJING 2022” and chanted slogans to remind the CCP that, even though the main protest action would not be taking place outside the embassy, activists are still here to stand up for human rights.
Following this, activists took the banner to the BBC Studios building. Standing in the courtyard, they chanted “No rights, no games” and “BBC, stop Beijing 2022!” Various groups, including Free Tibet, have previously written to the BBC, stating that it should opt-out of broadcasting next year’s Winter Games, given the risk that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) will use them as a distraction from their human rights abuses, including genocide, a technique known as ‘sportswashing’.
Later that afternoon, more activists joined the fray outside the British Olympic Association (BOA) offices in Soho to witness the delivery of Free Tibet’s No Beijing 2022 petition, which gained over 7,000 signatures. The petition demands that the organisation, also known as Team GB, boycotts the games fully. While it initially appeared that the activists would be able to hand the petition over to BOA officials personally, they appeared to change their minds and ultimately decided not to meet with the protesters.
Speaking to cameras outside the BOA offices, a Tibetan Community in Britain staffer said:
“China promised the Olympics Association and the world that they would improve their human rights if they were given the 2008 Olympics… We watched the games. It was on TV. It was live broadcast. There were no human rights, it was even worse, and it’s a disgrace that we are here again.”
The day of action culminated in a large protest, which gathered at Piccadilly Circus. Roughly 100-200 activists from across the #NoBeijing2022 movement attended, united under a slogan of “TOGETHER WE RESIST.” Figures from Uyghur and Hong Kong groups gave speeches, and a letter from Tibetan filmmaker Dhondup Wangchen was read aloud. From Piccadilly Circus, protesters marched to the Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office (FCDO) on Whitehall. Making their way across central London, chants of “Free Tibet! Free Hong Kong! Free East Turkestan! Shame on the CCP!” could be heard. Outside the FCDO activists again took turns to make speeches to the crowd – including one young Tibetan speaker who used the platform to amplify the voices of those imprisoned by the CCP, and raises the challenges that Tibet faces.
Protesters braved the cold London winter for hours before the protest ended at around 20:00. On one final act of defiance before heading home, the protesters spoke with one voice to chant: “Free Tibet! Free Hong Kong! Free East Turkestan! Shame on the CCP” and “No rights, no games!”