Activists arrested in Athens for protesting Beijing Olympics – POLITICO


ATHENS – Activists protesting the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics were arrested in Athens on Sunday as they tried to hang a banner at the Acropolis.

The demonstration preceded the ceremonies for lighting the Olympic flame and starting its journey from ancient Olympia to Beijing, where the games are scheduled to start on February 4.

Greek police said a man and two women were arrested “for breaking the law on the protection of archaeological sites”. A senior Greek official said they would appear before the prosecutor on Monday morning.

A New York-based campaign group called Students for a Free Tibet said two of those arrested were Tibetan student Tsela Zoksang, 18, and exiled Hong Kong activist Joey Siu, 22.

“We call on the Greek authorities to resist any pressure from the Chinese government to extradite these militants,” said A declaration from another group, the UK-based Hong Kong Watch.

Greece can expect a careful international review of its handling of the case.

China invested heavily in Greece during the country’s long financial crisis, raising concerns over Beijing’s undue influence in the country.

In 2017, Greece drew criticism when it vetoed a plan to condemn the European Union of China’s human rights record at the Human Rights Council. UN.

The majority stake of the Chinese maritime giant COSCO in the port of Piraeus, the heart of the Greek giant’s maritime industry, is at the center of the concerns. Since COSCO took control in 2016, the port has become a key link in China’s Belt and Road infrastructure network.

Using the port as a transshipment hub for Asian container ships traveling to and from Europe via the Suez Canal, COSCO aims to make Piraeus the largest transit port in the Mediterranean.

In Sunday’s incident, activists entered the historic Acropolis monument in the Greek capital as tourists and climbed onto the scaffolding. A security guard quickly confiscated a banner they were trying to deploy.

However, the two women were able to put up a Tibetan flag and a smaller banner with the inscription “Free Hong Kong Revolution” on it. They chanted slogans calling for a boycott of the Beijing games until police arrived and arrested them.

“Now is the time for the international community and all people of conscience to take a stand and boycott Beijing 2022; nothing less will be a clear endorsement of China’s genocidal regime, ”Zoksang said in the Declaration of the Students for a Free Tibet.

The group demands that the International Olympic Committee reverse its decision to award the games to Beijing, citing human rights violations including China’s treatment of the Uyghur people, the occupation of Tibet and the crackdown on Hong Kong.

“The Chinese government is currently committing an unprecedented genocide, occupation and attack on democracy and human rights, and yet they have received the prestigious Olympics,” said the director of campaigns of the group, Pema Doma. “Despite Beijing’s attempts to undermine global standards, we hope that the Greek government will honor its commitment to freedom and democracy and immediately release non-violent protesters. “

The IOC Executive Board was due to meet on Sunday in ancient Olympia to celebrate the 100th anniversary of its founding.

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