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UK lawmakers want 2020 Winter Olympics boycotted over Uyghurs

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A cross-party Foreign Affairs Committee, led by Conservative lawmaker Tom Tugend has urged the British government to back a political boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing to pressure the Chinese government over the “genocide” of Uyghurs and other ethnic groups in the northwest province of Xinjiang.

The influential group of lawmakers said in a report that the “atrocities” being committed in Xinjiang “represent an international crisis of profound urgency, making it unconscionable for any civilized government to look the other way.”

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China, which rejects the accusations of abuses in Xinjiang, has denied the United Nations unfettered access to the region to investigate the claims. Tugendhat said the Conservative government of Prime Minister Boris Johnson “should recognize” the decision of British lawmakers in April to declare Beijing’s policies against the Uyghurs and other predominantly Muslim and ethnic Turkic minorities in northwest China as genocide and crimes against humanity, and to hold the Chinese government “to account.”

“As the Communist Party celebrates its 100th anniversary, it´s worth remembering that China has been a great civilization for more than five thousand years,” he said. “These crimes against the Uyghur people stand out as a black moment in a golden history.”

China has faced growing international criticism and sanctions for its alleged mass detention of more than one million people and its forced sterilization program. The U.S., for example, has stepped up its response under the new Biden administration, including travel bans, financial sanctions and commercial restrictions on Chinese imports. Unlike the British government, the U.S. government has declared China’s policies against the Uyghurs as genocide.

Among its many recommendations, the committee of British lawmakers said the government “should not attend” the Games, which are due to take place in Feb. 2022, and “should urge others not to do so.”

Proponents of a boycott of the Games say they will send a clear message to Beijing about its treatment of the Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities and deny the Chinese government a gold-plated public relations opportunity.

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