mandag 7. februar 2022

What message did China send by choosing Uyghur torchbearer?

As soon as a Uyghur athlete helped light the Olympic flame at the Beijing Olympics, the debate began: Was it a defiant signal from Chinese leaders, or proof that protests around the world were having impact The selection of Dinigeer Yilamujiang for the supreme honor of being a final Olympic torchbearer at the ceremony that opened the Winter Games in Beijing on Friday night was a huge surprise.

What it meant — because Olympic gestures like this always have meaning — wasn’t clear. U.S.-based human rights lawyer Rayhan Asat — whose brother Ekpar Asat is among more than 1 million Uyghurs that China has imprisoned — was at first aghast. The pictures of Yilamujiang, a 20-year-old cross-country skier, holding the torch with Zhao Jiwen, a skier from China’s dominant Han majority — both of them all smiles — reminded Asat of the half-Jewish fencer, Helene Mayer, who competed for Germany at the 1936 Summer Olympics that Adolf Hitler hosted in Berlin.