A Greek court acquits activists during the 2021 protest against the Beijing Olympics

A Greek court has acquitted three activists who were arrested in October 2021 after carrying banners in Athens against the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, their lawyers and activists said on Thursday.

Those acquitted were 19-year-old Tibetan student Tsila Zhuxang, 22-year-old American Gui Siu and 35-year-old Vietnamese-American activist.

They had staged a brief protest on the Greek capital’s Acropolis, holding a Tibetan flag and a banner reading “Free Hong Kong – Revolution” at scaffolding surrounding part of the memorial.

They were charged with attempting to pollute, damage and disfigure a historical monument and faced up to five years in prison. They were acquitted of all charges.

“It was a great day for human rights activists in Tibet, Hong Kong and around the world, and although it was a very sensitive issue politically, in the end it was justice and the rule of law that prevailed,” their lawyer Alexis Anagnostakis told Reuters.

The protest came hours before the rehearsal of the Olympic flame-lighting ceremony in Greece, the site of the ancient Olympics.

Justice Abroad, a UK-based advocacy group that provided the assistance, welcomed the acquittal. “Today’s outcome is a major victory for the right to peaceful protest and for the people of Tibet and Hong Kong,” said Michael Pollack, director of the group.

Rights groups and US lawmakers have called on the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to postpone the Games and move the event unless China ends what the United States considers an ongoing genocide against the Uighurs and other Muslim minorities.

Chinese authorities have been accused of facilitating forced labor by detaining around a million Uighurs and other Muslim minorities in camps since 2016.

China denies any wrongdoing, saying it has set up vocational training centers to combat extremism.

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