– A PR stunt for trying to fool the outside world – VG

OLYMPIC FIRE: Dinigeer Yilamujian (TV) and Zhao Jiawen (right) light the Olympic flame during the opening ceremony in Beijing.

The choice of the refueling mission to light the Olympic flame in Beijing is startling.

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It happened to combined athlete Zhao Jiawen and cross-country skier Dinigeer Yilamujiang, and it is precisely the choice of Dinigeer that has caused a stir. She is Uighur and comes from Xinjiang province.

China has long been heavily critical of its treatment of the country’s Muslim minority Uighurs.

 

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– It is a PR stunt to try to trick the outside world into believing that what is said about the treatment of the Uighurs is not true. I hope so, says general secretary of Amnesty Norway John Peder Egenæs to VG.

Secretary of the Norwegian Uighur Committee, Adiljan Abdurihim, Minister the election is conscious and that it does not reflect reality.

– For me, it really means nothing more than Chinese propaganda. If they want to portray the Uighurs as equal, then that is not the reality. We can not change the reality that there is a genocide, says Abdurihim to VG.

However, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) denies that the athlete was chosen because of her pedigree.

– This is an athlete who competes here, she runs early today. She has every right, no matter where she comes from, no matter what background she has, to compete – and to take part in the ceremony, says IOC spokesman Mark Adams.

When France adopted a statement a few weeks ago to refer to China’s treatment of the Uighur population as genocide, this was condemned by the Chinese authorities.

“The resolution of the French National Assembly on Xinjang ignores facts and legal knowledge, and it mixes roughly with China’s internal affairs,” said Zhao Lijian, a spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry.

A number of western countries have stated in terms of criticism of wordplay. The United States, like France, calls it a genocide.

China has not denied the existence of the camps, but claims that it is only an offer of retraining to prevent the Uighurs from being recruited to Islamic extremism.

According to a report from Amnesty International, up to one million Uighurs are in the so-called retraining camps.

Chinese President Xi Jinping was in charge of the official opening of the Olympics, with Russian President Vladimir Putin in the stands, among others, when Jiawen and Uighur Yilamujiang lit the fire.

Egenæs in Amnesty is clear on what he accepts about the session:

– It is simply a bit of a raw game, not necessarily with that person, but with the Uighurs. Who are oppressed, abused and locked up inside.

At the same time, he expresses that he is not surprised.

– It’s a bit like the Chinese government can act. They say: We do not oppress the Uighurs, or other minorities, and then they cite examples in this way.

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DEMONSTRATIONS: A number of demonstrations have been held against the Winter Games in Beijing, here from Washington DC in May.

Abdurihim in the Norwegian Uighur Committee nevertheless believes that the symbolic event shows that China cares about what happens and is said about them in western countries.

– China knows that there is a large boycott that has been implemented in a number of countries. So it shows that China is following this, and this is their way of trying to show that nothing wrong is happening, says Abdurihim and points out that a number of countries, including the United States and the United Kingdom, are playing games.

Egenæs is also of that opinion.

– The Chinese run their race completely independent of what others may want and think. At the same time, it seems that they notice critique and want to catch up. And this is a way to catch up, Egenæs concludes.

Matt Thompson

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