China

Uighurs take case against Beijing Games to IOC ethics chief Ban Ki-moon

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Former United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon arrives ahead of the start of the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters in New York City, New York, U.S., September 24, 2019. REUTERS/Yana Paskova

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GENEVA, March 5 (Reuters) - The largest group of exiled ethnic Uighurs have asked the chair of the IOC's ethics commission to personally review its call for the 2022 Winter Games not to be held in Beijing amid evidence of what it calls crimes against humanity.

Activists and U.N. experts say 1 million Uighurs and other Turkic Muslims are held in Chinese camps in Xinjiang. China denies abuses and says its camps provide vocational training and are needed to fight extremism in the remote western region.

The World Uyghur Congress (WUC) said its public complaint on the issue last August had not been given a fair hearing by the International Olympics Committee.

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In a statement seen by Reuters on its Feb. 26 letter to ethics chief Ban Ki-moon, the WUC repeated that the IOC had "acted in breach of the Olympic Charter by failing to reconsider holding the 2022 Olympics in Beijing following verifiable evidence of genocide and crimes and humanity taking place".

There was no immediate comment from the IOC.

The IOC said in a statement to Reuters last August that it "must remain neutral on all global political issues". The IOC said it had received assurances from Chinese government authorities "that the principles of the Olympic Charter will be respected in the context of the Games".

The World Uyghur Congress, which uses a different spelling for the word Uighur, said its latest letter followed what it called a failure by the IOC's ethics office to comply with the procedure for such cases.

This was because it had received a reply in September only from the Games executive director and not the ethics commission.

The Uighur group "calls on Mr Ban Ki Moon to either examine the Complaint himself or to appoint a new Ethics and Compliance Officer to do so properly," the WUC statement said. Ban is a former U.N. secretary-general.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said he agrees with his predecessor Mike Pompeo's determination that genocide against Muslims is underway in Xinjiang. read more

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Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay Editing by Frances Kerry

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