The Senate of the Czech Republic this week urged Czech political leaders to boycott the 2022 Winter Olympics in China over Beijing’s human rights abuses, in particular against Tibetans and Uyghurs.
In a resolution adopted on June 10, the senators argue that the presence of Czech government and other political representatives at the games could be seen as carte blanche for Beijing to continue its crackdown on fundamental rights and freedoms and legitimize the continued suppression of fundamental rights in China.
The resolution of the Czech Senate recalls the experience of the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympic Games, when China failed to uphold its commitment to hold the games as “free and open” and misused them to further restrict rights and freedoms.
The resolution also points to the “massive” violations of human rights and freedoms in China—particularly against Tibetans and Uyghurs—and calls on the government to “systematically” raise the human rights situation in China in multilateral fora such as the UN Human Rights Council.
Since the 2008 Olympics, human rights conditions in Tibet have continued on a downward spiral, with Tibetans’ religious and cultural rights, freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and association, as well as their social and economic rights, extensively curtailed. Since 2009, over 150 Tibetans have self-immolated in a desperate protest against China’s destruction of their culture and way of life.
The Czech people, who also experienced life under a repressive communist regime, have long been sympathetic to the plight of Tibetans, and the Czech Parliamentary Group for Ti-bet is currently the largest parliamentary group for Tibet in Europe.
In 2008, the then-Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek declined to attend the opening ceremony of the Summer Games in Beijing to denounce China’s violent repression of the wave of peaceful protest in Tibet in March of that year, although he attended the rest of the games.
The International Campaign for Tibet has also called for a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Beijing Olympics.
“ICT welcomes the stand taken by the Czech Senate, which demonstrates once more the attachment of the Czech people for human rights and freedom and its strong solidarity with Tibetans,” ICT Europe Executive Director Tsering Jampa said. “We hope it will inspire other parliamentarians to push their governments to commit to such diplomatic boycott and to make it clear that they will not tolerate Beijing’s total disregard of international human rights law and of the Olympics ideals.”
Former Member of Parliament Katerina Bursik Jacques, Secretary of the Senate Group of Friends of Tibet, said: “It has been more than a decade since the Czech Parliament adopted a Resolution supporting Tibet; the last one passed in the Chamber of Deputies in 2008, and it’s been 23 years for similar action from the Senate. In other words, today’s firm support for the people of Tibet and Xinjiang was long overdue. The Czech Republic maintains a strong sense of solidarity with those whose freedoms are restricted, not just in China, but everywhere in the world. Protecting human rights is a priority for many Czechs, who re-member only too well our own experience with totalitarianism.”
Below is the full text of the resolution.
THE SENATE OF THE PARLIAMENT OF THE CZECH REPUBLIC
The ideals of the Olympic Charter, which include respect for the preservation of human dignity and non-discrimination on grounds of race, colour, sex, sexual orientation, language, religion, political or other opinion, nationality or social origin, property, origin or another status among the basic principles and values of Olympism;
II. Notes with concern that
1. There are massive violations of human rights and freedoms, genocide and crimes against humanity, ethnic discrimination, and the suppression of cultural, religious and political identity in the People’s Republic of China (PRC), in particular in the Autonomous Regions of Tibet and Xinjiang;
2. The Government of the PRC, despite official repeated requests from representatives of the UN Human Rights Council, refuses to grant access to independent missions of the international community;
3. The Government of the PRC, contrary to its commitment to hold the Olympic Games as “free and open,” already misused the 2008 Olympic Games to further suppress human rights and freedoms and restrict freedom of expression;
III. Makes and appeals to
1. The Government of the Czech Republic to evaluate the fulfillment of international human rights obligations by the PRC, to systematically comment on the human rights situation in the PRC at the UN Human Rights Council or the UN General Assembly, and to actively sup-port similar initiatives of other countries;
2. The government and other political representatives of the Czech Republic to reject the invitation to participate in the Olympic Games in the PRC, as their presence could be misused to legitimize further discrimination, violence, and suppression of fundamental rights;
3. The Czech Olympic Committee, when selecting the organizers of the Games, to ensure their readiness to comply with the principles of the Olympic Charter and its other international obligations and to prevent the abuse of the Olympic Games for political propaganda;
IV. Reminds of
1. The criticisms the International Olympic Committee faced in 2008 for failing to anticipate violations of freedom of expression and of the press by the Government of the People’s Republic of China, which also had a negative impact on the work of the international media and participants in the 2008 Olympic Games;
2. The Resolution of the Senate of the Parliament of the Czech Republic No. 131 of 20 March 2019 on the Petition for an End to the Genocide of Falun Gong Practitioners Commit-ted by the Chinese Regime;
V. Assigns the task
To the President of the Senate of the Parliament of the Czech Republic, Senator Miloš Vystrčil, to inform the Prime Minister of the Czech Republic and the President of the Czech Olympic Committee of this Resolution.