By John Sinnott, CNN
A leading Myanmar swimmer has called for the country’s Olympic committee to be expelled from the Olympic Movement, saying “genocidaires do not deserve to be in the Olympics.”
Currently training in Melbourne, Win Htet Oo’s Facebook profile says he’s “a Myanmar swimmer dreaming about Tokyo 2020.”
The swimmer has been a vocal critic of the Myanmar in recent weeks.
“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 the organization told AFP that “‘to the best of our knowledge,'” Win Htet Oo had not been selected by the Myanmar team.
World Swimming Magazine describes Win Htet Oo as one of Myanmar’s “top swimmers,” who swam for his country at the 2013 and 2019 Southeast Asian Games.
Win Htet Oo is ranked as 166th in the men’s 50-meter freestyle rankings on the website of swimming’s governing body (Fédération Internationale De Natation). But he is no longer listed as being part of the Myanmar national team.
The Myanmar Olympic Committee did not respond to CNN’s request for comment.
In February, Myanmar armed forces commander in chief Gen. Min Aung Hlaing seized power, overthrowing the democratically elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy party and installing a military junta.
The following months have seen ongoing protests against his rule and the rise of a Civil Disobedience movement in which thousands of blue- and white-collar workers including doctors, teachers, civil servants and factory workers have gone on strike with the aim of disrupting the economy and unseating the general.
Security forces have brutally suppressed the protests with deadly and systematic crackdowns in which police and soldiers have shot people dead in the streets and arbitrarily detained perceived opponents.
More than 750 people have been killed by security forces since the coup, and more than 4,500 arrested, according to advocacy group Assistance Association of Political Prisoners.
On March 28, UN officials condemned “systematic” attacks on peaceful protesters and called on the international community to “protect the people 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.
A UN Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar in 2018 called for Min Aung Hlaing to be investigated and prosecuted for genocide over his military’s brutal crackdown on the Rohingya Muslim minority in Rakhine State in 2017.
In his latest Facebook post, Win Htet Oo said he’d been inspired “by the continued defiance to military rule in Myanmar by an intersectional movement that will never submit. Their bravery is undying.”
“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.
Correction: A previous version of this report incorrectly stated Win Htet Oo’s ranking on the website of swimming’s governing body.