Ahead of Opening Ceremonies, Merkley Releases Statement on Uyghur Genocide and Beijing Olympics

Washington, D.C. – Oregon’s U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley, the Chair of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC), released the following statement today ahead of the Opening Ceremonies of the 2022 Winter Olympics held in Beijing:

“On the eve of the Opening Ceremonies of the Beijing Winter Olympics, it’s essential that we do everything possible to stop the glitz and glamor of Olympic gold from obscuring the human rights atrocities of the Chinese government.

“Marvelous athletic accomplishments will be taking place against a backdrop of genocide against Uyghur Muslims, the crackdown on democracy activists in Hong Kong, and the ongoing repression and jailing of journalists and activists who dare to show bravery in speaking out against these abuses by the Chinese government and Chinese Communist Party.  We will not tolerate the Chinese government using the Olympics as a false showing of peace and harmony when basic human rights are being violated.

“I’m proud of the bipartisan efforts we made as a nation to hold the Chinese government accountable for their crimes. I helped lead the charge for a diplomatic boycott of the Olympic Games, and President Biden’s support was a critical step and strong sign of leadership on the issue of human rights. The Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act sent a clear message that American businesses and consumers will have no engagement with goods and services made from slave labor. But more is demanded of us. We must do all we can to lift the voices of those who are being silenced and show the world that putting on a big show won’t overshadow the torture, arbitrary imprisonment, and enslavement of millions of innocent people.  

“I want to wish all of the athletes good luck in their respective sports. Their hard work and dedication to their craft should not be sullied by the International Olympic Committee’s grave error in awarding the Olympics to Beijing, and I will be rooting for Team USA and those who represent our great state of Oregon. While we celebrate them and their accomplishments, we must also use the Games’ focus on China to catalyze an international fight against the injustices taking place in Hong Kong, Xinjiang, and throughout China until the genocide, slave labor, and attacks on democracy are eradicated once and for all.”  

As Chair of the CECC, Merkley has led the Commission’s work to highlight China’s grave human rights abuses ahead of the Olympics—chairing multiple hearings, pressuring corporate sponsors for action, and leading calls for a diplomatic boycott. Merkley and the CECC have spearheaded the #OlympicPrisoner project, highlighting a Chinese political prisoner each day in the lead-up to the Opening Ceremonies.

Today, Merkley chaired a major CECC hearing on “The Beijing Olympics and the Faces of Repression,” featuring testimony from individuals who have been directly impacted by the Chinese regime’s crackdown on human rights, as well as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Further information on the hearing, as well as a link to video of the hearing, can be found here.