IOC accused of ignoring human rights for 2022 Beijing Games

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FILE - In this Dec. 3, 2018, file photo, people line up at the Artux City Vocational Skills Education Training Service Center at the Kunshan Industrial Park in Artux in western China's Xinjiang region. Groups representing ethnic minorities in China are again accusing the International Olympic Committee of ignoring widespread human rights abuses as the country prepares to hold the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. Rights groups representing Tibetans, Uighurs, and others have sent an open letter to IOC President Thomas Bach and IOC member Juan Antonio Samaranch, who oversees preparations for the Beijing Games.(AP Photo/Ng Han Guan, File)

A coalition representing ethnic minorities in China is again accusing the International Olympic Committee of ignoring widespread human rights abuses as the country prepares to hold the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.

Rights groups speaking for Tibetans, Uighurs and others representing Hong Kong have sent an open letter to IOC President Thomas Bach and IOC member Juan Antonio Samaranch Jr., who oversees preparations for the Beijing Games.

Obtained by The Associated Press, the letter says the IOC has “turned a blind eye to the widespread and systematic human rights violations being committed by the Chinese authorities.”

Rights advocates are asking to see evidence — which the IOC says it has received — that China will abide by human rights commitments that it made when it was awarded the games in 2015. It also says that China has promised to allow unfettered reporting and to permit demonstrations or protests.

Athletes around the world have been pressing for more latitude to express themselves at the Olympics and argue that lobbying for human rights is not a political issue.

Representative of rights groups met two months ago with IOC leaders but say their requests have been largely ignored. They also sent an open letter three months ago asking the IOC to take the Olympics away from Beijing.

China is widely reported to have incarcerated more than a million Uighurs, a mostly Muslim ethnic group, in the western Xinjiang region. China at first denied the existence of the camps, but now says they are training and education centers.

Forced labor, torture and forced sterilization and abortion are being widely reported in Xinjaing. The treatment of the religious minority has been termed “cultural genocide” or “ethnic cleansing.”