Canada's main opposition party -- the Conservative Party -- on Tuesday urged the Prime Minister Justin Trudeau-led government to pressure the International Olympic Committee to move the 2022 Winter Olympics out of Beijing, arguing China is committing genocide against more than 1 million Uyghurs in Xinjiang.
Erin O'Toole, Leader of Canada's Conservatives and the Official Opposition, issued a statement calling on Trudeau to seek the relocation of the 2022 Olympic Games from China.
"Today, I call on Justin Trudeau to actively seek the relocation of the 2022 Olympic Games. Canada should not be sending athletes to China in the middle of a genocide. Canada has long been a world leader in standing up for human rights and dignity. But today, we have become a nation of silence, not one of principled action," he said.
"I think Canadians would agree that it would violate fundamental ethical principles to participate in an Olympic Games hosted by a country that is committing a genocide against part of its population," he added.
He said the Olympic Games and the athletes who compete in them have and will inspire the next generation -- and they must continue to provide such inspiration. "But not in China, in the shadow of a genocide."
In his article for Toronto Star titled 'China must not be allowed to host the 2022 Olympics', he said Ottawa must call on the IOC to relocate the 2022 Winter Olympics out of China. "It won't be the first time Canadian leadership on the world stage meant taking a risk to stand up for human dignity," he wrote.
"There is genocide going on in Xinjiang. The Chinese embassy in Washington bragged on social media recently about forced sterilization measures being undertaken, going so far as to refer to Uighur women as "baby-making machines"," the Candian opposition leader wrote in an article for Toronto Star.
O'Toole said no one wants the athletes to pay the price, "but we would sully the value of this important global event by turning a blind eye to the genocide in Xinjiang by the Communist regime."
"We would not have held the Olympics in Rwanda as Tutsis were being slaughtered. We would not have held the Olympics in Belgrade after Srebrenica and it is an absolute farce to think we should hold them in Beijing now," he stated.
The opposition leader continued, "China is committing genocide. It has established a police state in Hong Kong. It has kidnapped two Canadians and held them hostage without cause or due process for two years... We should work with our closest allies and co-ordinate an effort to relocate the games for 2022. And in doing so, we can remind them of the role Canada has and must continue to play in taking an early stand for human rights and dignity."
This comes after a coalition of 180 human rights groups has urged governments around the world to boycott the Beijing Winter Olympic Games slated for next year due to China's reported human rights abuses towards minorities.
The letter calls on countries to refuse participation in the games and "to ensure they are not used to embolden the Chinese government's appalling rights abuses and crackdowns on dissent."
The Hill further reported that the IOC said in a statement that the committee's policy for its orgsing committees is to hear all concerns "directly related to the Olympic Games." For the Beijing Winter Olympics specifically, the IOC said its Evaluation Committee listened to the views of several NGOs, including concerns about human rights.
The committee cited its position that it shared with groups that IOC "must remain neutral on all global political issues" although it may not agree "with the political structure, social circumstances or human rights standards in its country."
On the other hand, China's Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin labelled the calls for boycott as "highly irresponsible".
The calls for boycotting next year's winter Olympics came after Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he agrees with the former President Donald Trump administration's characterisation of the abuse of Uyghurs in China as genocide.
China has been rebuked globally for cracking down on Uyghur Muslims by sending them to mass detention camps, interfering in their religious activities and sending members of the community to undergo some form of forcible re-education or indoctrination.
Beijing, on the other hand, has vehemently denied that it is engaged in human rights abuses against the Uyghurs in Xinjiang while reports from journalists, NGOs and former detainees have surfaced, highlighting the Chinese Communist Party's brutal crackdown on the ethnic community, according to a report.
( With inputs from ANI )
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