Two human rights activists were recently arrested in Athens after waving their Tibetan flags and unfurled a banner with the statement "Free Hong Kong Revolution" printed on it.
According to reports, the protests took place on the eve of the Torch Lighting Ceremony for the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics.
The protesters who were arrested are members of the No Beijing 2022 protest group. They were also heard chanting "Boycott Beijing 2022" and "Free Tibet" right before their arrest.
Protesters release statement following their arrest
One of the protesters is 18-year-old Tsela Zoksang, a Tibetan-American activist who was detained by police. The other protester was identified as Joey Siu, a US citizen exiled from Hong Kong.
During an interview, Zoksang explained her decision to stand up for what she believes in.
"The IOC's (International Olympic Committee) decision to award the Winter Olympics to China is a clear endorsement of the Chinese Communist Party's extreme and brutal human rights abuses towards Tibetans, Uyghurs, and Hongkongers. The IOC know full well what is happening but they have chosen money over human dignity. So now it is time for the international community, and all people of conscience, to take a stand and boycott Beijing 2022. Anything less will be a clear endorsement of China's genocidal regime," Zoksang said via The Games.
Siu also released a statement saying that she is a Hong Kong activist and cannot return to her homeland. Despite the arrest, Siu said that her heart goes out to all her unjustly persecuted friends in Hong Kong.
Protests happened during Beijing Olympics 2008
According to ABC News, Zoksang, Sui, and their third companion entered the Acropolis in Athens as paying customers. Once they got in, Zoksang and Siu climbed up the scaffolding in an attempt to put up their banners.
However, security officers rushed to them and took their banners away. And the whole incident lasted for approximately 10 minutes until the two were arrested.
The Olympic flame for the 24th Winter Games will be lit at Ancient Olympia this week. On Tuesday, it will then be handed over to Chinese representatives at a ceremony in Athens's Panathenian Stadium.
According to CNN, this is not the first protest and calls for boycotts over the country's human rights because a similar thing happened during the 2008 Beijing Olympics. At the time, the flame ceremony was also disrupted by a string of protests from human rights activists.
International Olympic Committee urged to postpone Beijing Olympics 2022
Rights groups and US lawmakers urged the International Olympic Committee to postpone the games or hold it elsewhere unless China ends its ongoing genocide against Uyghurs and other Muslim minority groups.
Chinese authorities have also been accused of detaining a million Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in camps to engage in forced labor since 2016.
However, China has denied any wrongdoing. Authorities also claimed that they have set up vocational training centers in different parts of the country to combat extremism.
In July 2021, the European Parliament and the United Kingdom Parliament also voted to favor a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympics.
Two months later, some Olympics broadcasters also asked to cancel their broadcast plans for the Beijing Winter Olympics 2022 due to human rights concerns. But as of press writing, the sports event will still place next year.