Over 250 Rights Groups Criticise UN Secretary-General António Guterres For Accepting An Invitation To Beijing 2022

Antonio Guterres 2022

January 14, 2022, 12:00 p.m. EST
For Immediate Release
Contact: Omer Kanat +1 (202) 790-1795, Peter Irwin +1 (646) 906-7722

A coalition of over 250 global civil society groups representing Tibetans, Uyghurs, Hongkongers, Chinese, Southern Mongolians, Taiwanese and other communities [1] has written to the United Nations Secretary General António Guterres, asking him to revoke his acceptance of an invitation to attend the Beijing 2022 Olympic Games.[2] 

Activists draw attention to the severe and downward spiral of human rights abuses by China amid calls by more than 50 independent UN human rights experts for the “international community to act collectively and decisively to ensure China respects human rights and abides by its international obligations.”[3]

Tibetan-American campaigner Pema Doma of Students for a Free Tibet said: “Since the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympic Games we’ve witnessed human rights abuses across all regions under Chinese rule spiral into an abyss. For the head of the United Nations –  António Gutierrez – to attend the Beijing 2022 is simply unconscionable and entirely at odds with what is needed in light of the CCP’s worsening crackdown against Tibetans, Uyghurs and Hongkongers.”[4]

Zumretay Arkin of the Uyghur Congress added: “It’s not only shocking that the Secretary General is willing to attend Beijing 2022 when there is a genocide being carried out against Uyghurs and other Muslims, but also incompatible with the UN’s core principles. His appearance at the Winter Olympics will not only be a kick in the teeth for all human rights defenders living under China’s rule but will undermine the highly respected fora of the United Nations.”

Taiwanese activist Penghsuan Lee added: “China’s bullying in UN fora should be justification enough for the Secretary General’s refusal to attend Beijing’s Olympic celebration. Reprisals, censure, repeated sanction blocking and serious attempts by China to silence debate at the Human Rights Council cannot be rewarded by Guterres, but that is exactly how it will be seen by Xi Jinping.”[5] 

Frances Hui, We The Hongkongers said: “It beggars belief that Mr Guterres even contemplated attending Beijing 2022. His decision to attend is utterly abhorrent and lends credence to China’s belief that the international community does not care about its blatant disregard for human rights. Worse, we fear it will serve to embolden the actions of the Chinese authorities. He should cancel his acceptance immediately.”

Notes to Editors:

  1. https://nobeijing2022.org/open-letter-un-secretary-general-antonio-guterres/
  2. https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2021/12/9/un-chief-to-attend-beijing-olympics-amid-diplomatic-boycotts
  3. https://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=26006
  4. To date at least 10 governments have confirmed they will not be attending Beijing 2022 including the United States, New Zealand. Australia, United Kingdom, Canada and Japan
  5. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-10-27/china-editorial-says-u-s-is-opening-new-offensive-on-taiwan&sa=D&source=docs&ust=1642152277146791&usg=AOvVaw3JvTs3nSJoGn9-F_jUvxXp