Tibetans march on Int’l Olympic Committee to protest Beijing Olympics

Hundreds of Tibetan activists marched on the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on Thursday, a day before the opening ceremony of Beijing 2022, accusing the Swiss-based organisation of complicity in "atrocities" committed against ethnic minorities in China.

The protesters carried sings such as “No rights, No Games” and “2022 Genocide Olympics”. Many were draped in Tibetan flags.

“We are against IOC granting this precious Game to a country, to a regime which is a dictatorship rule, which doesn't respect any rule of law,” said Karma Choekyi, head of the Tibetan Community of Switzerland and Liechtenstein, told Reuters.

She said more than 150 Tibetans had self-immolated after the 2008 Beijing Summer Games due to “much repression in Tibet”.

The protesters presented a petition to IOC security staff signed by the presidents of 10 Tibetan communities in Europe.

IOC under heavy criticism

Hours earlier, Chinese President Xi Jinping said that the Beijing Olympics will be streamlined, safe and splendid, even as IOC President Thomas Bach decried boycott ghosts “rearing their ugly heads again” over human rights concerns.

The United States, Britain and some other allied countries have staged a diplomatic boycott of the Games over those concerns.

Rights groups have long criticised the IOC for awarding the Games to China, citing its treatment of Uyghurs and other Muslim minority groups in the western Xinjiang region, which the United States has deemed genocide.

China denies allegations of human rights abuses and says it opposes the "politicisation" of sports.

Cultural genocide

China seized control of Tibet after its troops entered the region in 1950, in what it has described as a “peaceful liberation”. Ethnic Tibetans make up more than 80 percent of the population in the Tibet Autonomous Region, one of the most restricted areas in the country. Critics, led by exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, say Beijing's rule amounts to “cultural genocide”.

Since Xi came to power a decade ago, China had intensified its crackdown on Buddhist learning centres and religious sites.