“Genocidaires do not deserve to be in the Olympics,” a leading Myanmar swimmer has said, calling for the country’s Olympic committee to be expelled from the Olympic Movement.
In a Facebook post, swimmer Win Htet Oo said that by refusing the Myanmar Olympic Committee, he had ruled himself out of competing at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Win Htet Oo, who is currently training in Melbourne, describes himself on Facebook as “a Myanmar swimmer dreaming about Tokyo 2020.”
In recent weeks, the swimmer has been a vocal critic of Myanmar.
“I do not wish to participate in the Tokyo Games under the stewardship of a NOC [National Olympic Committee] that is tied to a regime that continues to inflict suffering on my people,” said Win Htet Oo in another Facebook post on April 10.
The IOC did not immediately respond to CNN’s request for comment, but according to AFP, Win Htet Oo was not chosen by the Myanmar team “‘to the best of our knowledge.”
Win Htet Oo, who swam for Myanmar at the 2013 and 2019 Southeast Asian Games, is described as one of Myanmar’s “best swimmers” by World Swimming Magazine.
On the website of swimming’s governing body (Fédération Internationale De Natation), Win Htet Oo is ranked 166th in the men’s 50-meter freestyle rankings. However, he is no longer listed as a member of Myanmar’s national team.
Myanmar’s armed forces commander in chief, Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, seized power in February, deposing Aung San Suu Kyi’s constitutionally elected government and her National League for Democracy faction, and establishing a military junta.
Thousands of blue- and white-collar employees, including doctors, teachers, civil servants, and factory workers, went on strike to undermine the economy and unseat the general in the months that followed.
Security forces have violently crushed the demonstrations with deadly and systemic crackdowns in which police and soldiers have shot and killed protesters in the streets and illegally arrested suspected critics.
According to the advocacy group Assistance Association of Political Prisoners, security forces have killed over 750 people and detained over 4,500 since the coup.
Officials from the United Nations denounced “systematic” assaults on peaceful demonstrators on March 28 and urged the international community to “protect the citizens of Myanmar from atrocity crimes.”
“The shameful, cowardly, brutal actions of the military and police — who have been filmed shooting at protesters as they flee, and who have not even spared young children — must be halted immediately,” said Alice Wairimu Nderitu, United Nations Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, and Michelle Bachelet, the High Commissioner for Human Rights in a joint statement.
Min Aung Hlaing should be investigated and prosecuted for genocide, according to a UN Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar in 2018. This was in response to his military’s brutal crackdown on the Rohingya Muslim minority in Rakhine State in 2017.
Win Htet Oo said he’d been motivated in a recent Facebook post “by a never-say-die intersectional movement in Myanmar that continues to defy the military rule. Their valor is unwavering.”
“The National Unity Government is the only legitimate representative of the people of Myanmar and all international organisations and governments should recognise the NUG as Myanmar’s government,” added Win Htet Oo, who swam for New York University between 2012 and 2015.