Natan Sharansky signs ad urging protest of Beijing Olympics over Uyghur persecution

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Natan Sharansky signs ad urging protest of Beijing Olympics over Uyghur persecution

Full page advert taken out by Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity calling on corporate sponsors of the game to 'walk away'

Natan Sharansk
Natan Sharansk

A full page advertisement in The New York Times Saturday urged athletes and corporate sponsors to “walk away” from the Olympic Games, set to begin next month in Beijing, to protest China’s persecution of the Uyghurs.

“We urge the athletes and the sponsoring corporations to walk away from these games unless Beijing takes steps to reunite Uyghur families. And we urge the world’s citizens to embrace the cause of this persecuted population,” the ad stated.

The ad was paid for by the Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity and was signed by the French Jewish philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy, the former Soviet refusenik Natan Sharansky, and Eli Wiesel’s son Elisha Wiesel. Elie Wiesel, a Holocaust survivor who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986 for his work speaking out about the lessons of the Holocaust and bringing attention to other genocides, died in 2016.

Activists have urged a boycott of the Winter Olympics in Beijing over China’s treatment of the Uyghur, a Muslim group in the northwest part of China whose members have faced forced internment in “reeducation camps” by the Chinese government. The Chinese government has said the move is meant to combat terrorism but numerous reports say the captive Uyghurs are pressured to abandon their culture and have been forced into labor and that women have been sterilised.

Elisha Wiesel (via Twitter)

Both the Trump and Biden administrations have designated the persecution of the Uyghurs a genocide. United States officials plan to boycott the Beijing Olympics in protest of the Chinese persecution of the Uyghurs, though U.S. athletes will still participate in the games. Israeli officials are not expected to follow the Americans’ lead and are expected to attend the games.

Elisha Wiesel spoke about the situation of the Uyghurs at ceremony to mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day held by the United Nations Thursday.

“China, which sits on the Human Rights Council, inflicts mass internment, forced labor and forced sterilisation on the Uyghur people. As the world turns a blind eye to the forced separations and cultural eradication of Uyghur families, other oppressors — Myanmar, ISIS and the Taliban — breathe easier as they oppress the Rohingya, the Yazidi, and women,” Wiesel stated. “I have met with Uyghur dissidents and I believe their testimony. While we pretend nothing is wrong we must instead provide refuge for the Uyghur people and stand vigil for the disappeared.”

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