BERLIN (Reuters) – Tibetan activists on Friday demanded that Allianz drop its sponsorship of the Beijing Winter Olympics over allegations of human rights abuses against China and over its treatment of minorities.
Members of groups including Students for a Free Tibet and Tibet Initiative Germany staged a sit-in in front of the insurer’s Berlin offices, holding a placard that read: “Allianz, drop the genocide games”.
Tenzin Zoechbauer, executive director of Tibet Initiative Germany, said it was unacceptable “that a German company like Allianz, that advertises itself as an insurer for human life, cannot seem to take a public position on the human rights situation in China”.
Two other activists chained themselves to the door of the Allianz building.
Allianz said it had been in contact with the Tibet Initiative for several months and that the company’s partnership with the Olympic and Paralympic Movement was a long-term commitment that went beyond the 2022 Winter Games.
“For us as sponsors, the values of the Olympic Movement … are paramount. Our commitment remains,” a spokesperson told Reuters in an email commenting on the protest.
China seized control of Tibet in 1950 in what it calls a “peaceful liberation”. Tibet has since become one of the most restricted areas in the country. China denies wrongdoing and says its intervention ended “backward feudal serfdom”.
Activists say China has detained least 1 million Muslims in camps in the Xinjiang region and accuse authorities of using torture, forced labour and sterilisations. China denies rights abuses and says its camps provide vocational training and are needed to fight extremism.
The protesters in Berlin also demanded that Germany implement an official diplomatic boycott of the Games.
Chancellor Olaf Scholz has not decided yet whether to attend the event and has said Berlin is still discussing the matter with its European Union allies.
The United States, Britain, Japan and Australia have announced diplomatic boycotts of the Games over human rights concerns.
(Reporting by Riham Alkousaa, Martin Schlicht and Max Schwarz; Editing by Miranda Murray and John Stonestreet)