Former U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is being asked to rule on an ethics complaint filed against the International Olympic Committee by a human-rights group representing Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities in China.
Ban is the chairman of the IOC’s ethics commission.
The World Uyghur Congress says an initial ethics complaint filed with the IOC to move the 2022 Winter Olympics from Beijing was largely ignored and may not have reached Ban.
“It is vital that ethical issues are handled with transparency, independence, and fairness,” Michael Polak, a London-based human-rights lawyer, said in a statement to Associated Press on Friday. “I was shocked at the scant response to our original lengthy and evidence-based complaint.”
Polak has written directly to Ban this time and is asking him to answer the complaint.
Ban was appointed to head the IOC’s ethics commission in 2017.
Rights groups are pressuring sponsors, the IOC, and athletes to speak out against alleged genocide and crimes against humanity involving Muslim Uyghurs and others being interned in camps in China.
Rights groups are calling these the “Genocide Games” and draw parallels to Hitler’s 1936 Olympics in Berlin, which were used as a stage to distract from Nazi atrocities.
“The IOC can no longer hide behind ‘political neutrality’ to justify its decision to host the games in a country that is currently committing genocide and crimes against humanity,” Dolkun Isa, president of the World Uyghur Congress, said.
“Real people are suffering from these crimes every day and the Olympics and the sponsors risk being forever tainted with the intense suffering of my people.”
China has said attempts for a boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics are “doomed to fail.” These Olympics open in 11 months on Feb. 4, 2022.
Polak said that instead of responding to his initial brief, the IOC simply referenced a statement about “political non-interference” repeated often by IOC President Thomas Bach.
Polak said that since Bach was the subject of the complaint, he should not be permitted to “determine the complaint, thus seriously jeopardizing the purported independence of the ethics complaint process.”
The complaint says the IOC, its executive board and Bach have “acted in breach” of the Olympic Charter by ignoring “verifiable evidence of genocide and crimes against humanity taking place against Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims in Xinjiang.”
The brief refers to definitions of genocide set out in Article II of the 1948 Genocide Convention.
The brief argues that holding the Olympics in Beijing “is contrary to the ethical principles of the Olympic Movement, the Olympic Charter, and the Olympic ideal inspired by Pierre de Coubertin.”