By Ben Blanchard | Reuters
BEIJING, China, 11 June 2015
China on Thursday condemned pro-Tibet demonstrators who burst into a news event with the Olympic committee bidding to host the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing, saying they would not shake China’s resolve to host the Games.
The protest on Wednesday in Lausanne, Switzerland, could be the first of many such demonstrations and be a public-relations headache for China if Beijing wins the bid to host the event.
Three Tibetans disrupted Beijing’s presentation, according to the International Tibet Network, a Tibetan advocacy group. Online video footage showed one protester being dragged away by security officers as he shouted: “Stop Beijing 2022. No more bloody Games again. IOC, don’t make the same mistake again.”
Tibetan parts of China experienced a wave of violent anti-Chinese protests in 2008, the year Beijing hosted the Summer Olympics. Rights groups said the Games were marked by forced evictions – claims angrily dismissed at the time by the government – and other abuses.
China has ruled Tibet with an iron fist since troops “peacefully liberated” the region in 1950.
Protesters in Lausanne held a banner with the Olympic rings displayed as bullet holes, while a woman wore a t-shirt covered in fake blood.
“These people were deliberately provocative,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told a daily news briefing.
“Their behavior will not shake the resolve of the Chinese government and people to apply to hold the Winter Olympics in Beijing.”
Beijing’s bid committee did not respond to a request for comment.
Activists have already expressed concern about the possibility Beijing will win, with Tibetan groups saying that China’s rights record disqualifies it.
President Xi Jinping has overseen a broad crackdown on the country’s rights community since he took office in 2013, in what some groups call the worst suppression of dissent in two decades.
The International Olympic Committee said last year it would include human rights clauses in new contracts to be signed by future Olympic host cities, strengthening its anti-discrimination policy.
China had provided the IOC with “written assurances” of its respect for human rights, an Olympic panel said in a report earlier this month.
Beijing is competing with Almaty, Kazakhstan, in its bid to host the 2022 Games. The IOC will pick the winner next month.