Human rights activist Peter Dahlin said that calls by the International Olympic Committee to Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai were putting her at “greater risk” and that they were “clearly staged.”
One of China’s most famous sports stars, Peng has publicly accused a former top Communist Party official, Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli, of forcing her to have sex at his home. 3 years ago in a social media post deleted on 2/11.
Peng was immediately blanket censored and disappeared from the public eye for more than two weeks.
The IOC said it held two calls with Peng.
According to the Olympic organization, the organization’s president, Thomas Bach, held a 30-minute video call with three-time Olympic athlete Peng, along with a Chinese sports official and an additional representative. of the IOC on November 21.
On Wednesday, the IOC held a second call with Peng and said the Chinese tennis star “reconfirmed” that she was safe and given the “difficult circumstances” she was in .
“Theatrical appearance practice is often referred to as forced confession on television, although recently the PRC [People’s Republic of China] Police will frequently resort to posting such videos on their social media channels or having newspapers put them on their websites,” Dahlin wrote in an open letter to the IOC on Thursday.
“The aim remains the same: to attack the person she – or himself – to fend off international criticism.”
The IOC did not immediately comment when CNN asked about Dahlin’s open letter.
Dahlin is the director of the human rights NGO Safeguard Defenders. The human rights activist explained that the open letter was edited by Dahlin and not Safeguards.
READ: Women’s tennis suspends all tournaments in China over concerns for Peng Shuai
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Dahlin said the video call with the IOC, which has not been made public, bears similarities to the time he was forced to apologize to the Chinese government on state television in 2016 after China accused him of working for an illegal organization. legally sponsor activities that endanger China. National security.
The IOC told CNN it did not provide any visuals of Wednesday’s second video call with Peng amid growing skepticism about how she was allowed to freely communicate, as well as worried for her safety.
Longtime IOC member Dick Pound recently told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour he was “confused” by the reaction to a video call between Peng and Bach in November.
“Basically a lot of people around the world are wanting to see what happened to Peng Shuai and no one has been able to establish contact,” he said.
“Only the IOC can do so and had a video chat with Thomas Bach, an older Olympic athlete, and two younger female members of the IOC. No one released the video because of me. guess that aspect is private.
“They found her in good health and in good spirits and they saw no evidence of detention or anything like that.”
Pound added that he has not seen the recording of the video call, but is “simply relying on the combined judgment of the three IOC members present on the call.”
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“Peng is not free. You know – or should know – that she is not free,” added Dahlin.
“At every turn of international criticism, like clockwork, Peng magically appeared or someone provided something claiming to be hers to counter those criticisms. .”
Dahlin accused the IOC of allowing the Chinese government to use itself and urged the organization to instead follow in the footsteps of the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA), which announced the immediate suspension of all tournaments in China, including Hong Kong, in response to Beijing. silence on sexual assault allegations.
On Thursday, a WTA spokesman told CNN it received a new email from Peng.
According to the WTA, this is the third email it has from Peng.
Citing a “confirmed source” in a Twitter post on Thursday, Chinese state media reporter Shen Shiwei said that the email from Shuai “expressed her shock at the decision not to the WTA’s fairness in suspending all tournaments in China.”
Reacting to this latest email, a WTA spokesman said the organization was standing by the decision to suspend tournaments in China.
READ: IOC member Dick Pound ‘confused’ by reaction to Peng Shuai video call
In a statement on Thursday, the IOC said it was confident in its approach and handling of the situation.
“We are using ‘quiet diplomacy’ which, under the circumstances and based on the experience of governments and other organisations, has been shown to be the most promising way to proceed effectively on humanitarian issues”. like that,” the statement read.
However, Dahlin urged the IOC to change its stance, saying that “quiet diplomacy may have its place, but it is not here.”
He added: “And you obviously don’t believe it yourself, because if you did, why are you hyping these video calls with Peng – especially when you refuse to go into details?” maybe someone is telling you that you can’t release them?
“At least educate yourself on the matter of forced disappearances as well as confessions and stage-managed appearances.”
Chinese authorities have not acknowledged Peng’s allegations against Zhang and there is no indication that an investigation is underway.
Zhang has remained private and has not appeared in public since retiring in 2018, and there is no public information regarding his current whereabouts.
Before retiring as vice premier, Zhang was the head of the Chinese government’s working group for the Beijing Games. In this role, he inspected competition venues, visited athletes, announced official emblems and held meetings to coordinate preparations.
Zhang has previously met IOC President Bach at least once, and the two were photographed shaking hands in the Chinese capital in 2016.
It remains unclear whether Peng will report his allegations to the police.
And at a press conference on Thursday, in response to a question about withdrawing from the WTA, a spokesman for China’s foreign ministry said, “China has always resolutely opposed any action that politicizes sports.” .”