The 24th #WinterOlympics is officially under way in #Beijing, with almost 3,000 athletes from 91 nations participating.
Tragically, the Games are overshadowed by multiple human rights violations; the harrowing plight of #Uyghur Muslims in East #Turkestan (#Xinjiang) by far looming the largest. Human rights groups have dubbed this year's Olympics the "Genocide Games", and several Western democracies have cited rights abuses in staging a diplomatic boycott of the event.
Kamaltürk Yalqun, a Uyghur who helped carry the Olympic flame ahead of the 2008 Beijing Olympic said "It should be a collective responsibility when such kind of atrocities are happening".
Under President #XiJinping's growing #authoritarianism, there is extensive evidence of mass concentration camps against the Uyghurs. The camps in Xinjiang were established in 2017; Uyghurs trapped within them have since been subject to strict discipline and harsh conditions.
Reports speak of mass surveillance, #forcedlabour and #ethniccleansing regimes, which includes coercive sterilisation.
Amidst the controversy, the selection of Uyghur athlete Dinigeer Yilamujiang to light the Winter Olympic flame appeared more than a coincidence. The honour of being a torch-bearer is always upheld by meaning; some seeing the symbolism of Yilamujiang as China defending their stance in Xinjiang, whilst others regard her participation as a show of ethnic unity, devoid of political message.
In a statement, Nurgul Sawat, an Uyghur activist says about the genocide games, "Despite wider protest worldwide, IOC failed to address public concern. The history from the 1936 Berlin Olympics repeated itself. The big Western cooperate businesses kept making more money from people's suffering. They turned a blind eye to the worst human rights abuse of the 21st century. It makes many young generations lose their faith in justice and democracy too"
Despite the fact that talented athletes underpin the Olympics, we cannot forget that the games are an important moment to condemn what is morally unjust.
We must not turn a blind eye to genocide.