Two people were arrested and later released in Greece after displaying banners before the lighting of the Olympic torch for the Beijing 2022 Winter Games , as human rights groups showed their intention to maintain pressure on China. Exiled Hong Kong activist Joey Siu, 22, and Tibetan-American student Tsela Zoksang, 18, both US citizens, were arrested in Athens on Sunday before being released on Monday, according to human rights NGO Hong Kong Watch, of which Siu is policy adviser. They had unfurled banners promoting Hong Kong and Tibetan rights at a rehearsal for Monday’s torch-lighting ceremony in ancient landmark the Acropolis. Siu and Zoksang have been allowed to leave Greece, but were told they must return to attend court in January, according to global grass-roots network Students for a Free Tibet (SFT), which did not give details of any charges against them. The pair are members of No Beijing 2022, a coalition of groups that has campaigned for the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to move the Games from China and is calling on governments and sponsors to boycott the event over China’s alleged human rights abuses in the western regions of Xinjiang and Tibet, and in Hong Kong . “Taking this non-violent direct action today is bittersweet as in Hong Kong, if I protested in this way, I would face unpredictable, lengthy jail time, or worse,” Siu told SFT before her arrest. “By awarding the Chinese government the honour of hosting an Olympic Games yet again, the IOC is sending the world a message that it is OK to turn a blind eye to genocide and crimes against humanity.” China has been accused of human rights abuses such as mass detention and forced labour against the Muslim minority Uygurs in the Xinjiang region, with some governments saying it amounts to genocide . Beijing has strongly denied these accusations and said its policies were to combat terrorism and extremism and reduce poverty. US-based human rights scholar Teng Biao, a vocal critic of China hosting the Games, said that as far as he knew, the arrests were the first during months of protests against the Beijing Winter Olympics. “Protesters will not be cowed by the arrests,” he said. “In fact, it could motivate more to join in future demonstrations. We have several months before the Games and Beijing’s ruthless stance on these issues will drive more people to take action.” He said that Greece, the birthplace of democracy, was contravening the rule of law by arresting peaceful protesters and not immediately offering them bail. It was concerning that China may be exerting its influence on smaller democracies, he said. The Chinese authorities have completely ignored human rights groups’ criticisms and continued their policies in Xinjiang and Hong Kong. Teng said the international community should maintain pressure. What is going on in Xinjiang and who are the Uygur people? “Total or diplomatic boycotts of the Games are very important,” Teng said. “They lead to more people finding out what is happening in Hong Kong, Xinjiang and the rest of China.” He also warned of the possibility of the Chinese government silencing dissidents and critics in China in the run-up to the Games – which happened to him before the 2008 Summer Olympics, when he was detained for two days by police. In another high-profile case that year, human rights activist Hu Jia was sentenced to 3½ years in jail.