(TibetanReview.net, Feb08’22) – George Washington University (GWU) President Mark Wrighton has on Feb 7 apologized for an earlier email he had sent, which called a series of artwork that used the ongoing Beijing Winter Olympics to criticize China’s human rights record offensive and vowed to remove them from across campus, reported the dailycaller.com and numerous other online news reports Feb 7. Wrighton had sent his first email after listening only to the university’s student group that was pro-communist party state of China and which made grossly false claims about the artwork.
In his initial email, Wrighton had said he was “personally offended” by posters showing the art, which first appeared in the campus on Feb 3, and said he was working to have them removed and find the person responsible for posting them. “I treasure the opportunity to work with talented people from all over the world, including China,” he had said.
“I, too, am saddened by this terrible event and we will undertake an effort to determine who is responsible,” Wrighton added, appearing to threaten whoever put up the posters with punitive action, noted the mrctv.org Feb 7.
That email from Wrighton was based on information contained in an email sent by the university’s Chinese Students and Scholars Association (CSSA), claiming the posters had “serious racist views” and carried out “extremely vicious personal attacks on all international students from China and Asian groups.” Their factually false email also urged the school to “punish” those who hung up the posters “severely.”
They also contacted the school’s police department to investigate, reported foxnews.com Feb 8.
CSSA is the official organization for overseas Chinese students and scholars registered in most colleges, universities, and institutions outside of the People’s Republic of China and works under the guidance of their concerned local Chinese government missions.
Wrighton apologized for his initial response after Badiucao, the pseudonym of a Chinese human rights artist-activist based in Australia, made the emails public on Twitter, the dailycaller.com report noted.
In his artworks, Badiucao depicted various winter sports interspersed with images symbolizing China’s genocide against Uyghurs, its persecution of Tibetan people, the government’s surveillance of political dissidents, and their cover-up of COVID in the early days of the pandemic.
In particular, they showed a Tibetan monk being bludgeoned by an ice-hockey player, a curler playing with a coronavirus molecule instead of a curling stone, a biathlete executing a bound a blindfolded Uyghur man, a figure skater skating through a bloodied red orchid, the symbol of Hong Kong, and a snowboarder performing tricks while riding a CCTV camera.
Wrighton has now said he responded to the complaint without seeing the posters, but has since learned that the art was a political statement and not racism. “I want to be very clear: I support freedom of speech—even when it offends people.”
“I also support the many students and faculty at our university who are engaged in researching, and actively advocating against, all forms of discrimination, marginalization, and oppression,” Wrighton has said.
“Upon full understanding, I do not view these posters as racist; they are political statements. There is no university investigation underway, and the university will not take any action against the students who displayed the posters,” he has added.