‘People Paying the Price for That’: Laura Harth on the IOC’s Silence on Beijing’s Human Rights Abuse

Tiffany Meier
By Tiffany Meier
February 5, 2022China in Focus

In this special episode, we sat down with Laura Harth, campaign director with Safeguard Defenders, and Cleo Paskal, associate fellow at Chatham House. They touch on human rights suppression and censorship, not just in China but around the world, how it’s ramped up amid the Winter Olympics, and what can be done going forward.

Harth said, “We see Beijing is very afraid of, the CCP [Chinese Communist Party] is very afraid of its being exposed. It’s just the thing that I hate the most of all, right? They react almost allergically to it. So making sure not only that the journalists are neatly kept in their bubble and cannot actually speak to people, but making sure that anyone that might be able to cause a fuss, anyone that might be able to shed a light on what is actually going on is not in circulation, is carefully kept away. Yes, it’s the usual tactics that we’ve seen every single time. And again, it just goes to highlight—we went through this before, the 2008 Olympic Games. So we knew what … happened. We have seen since then that things have only gotten worse.”

Paskal said, “The goal of the Chinese state in the Olympics isn’t just to do well, and it isn’t just to beat everybody else, it’s actually to win every single medal and every single category. Right? I mean, that’s the goal. And to do that, if you’re applying an unrestricted warfare type of an approach to it, nothing is off the table. So if you’re going to use kind of micro impediments for competitors, for example, you know, they don’t get a good night’s sleep, or they don’t get good food, or they get repeatedly aggressively COVID tested, including in very invasive ways, that has a psychological effect. These are all absolutely to be expected.”

Watch the full episode online.

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