A day after the International Olympic Committee tried to claim these Games should be free of politics, the Chinese Communist Party staged an Opening Ceremony draped in dual-track political messaging for audiences both inside China and out that was as loud and clear as the fireworks that lit up the Beijing sky.
It was a sign of both Chinese strength in its ability to use the Olympics to spread its narrative and its hidden terror at the truth actually seeping out.
It ended with an affront to the sensibilities and a middle finger to much of the world, whose prominent governments — including the United States, India, Great Britain, Australia and Canada — refused to send diplomats to grant this absurdity any measure of legitimacy.
The Olympic cauldron was lit — a symbolic moment of prominence — on Friday in Beijing by two Chinese athletes, including Dinigeer Yilamujiang, a cross country skier, who, according to the state-run media, has Uyghur heritage.
That choice, a female Uyghur, was a direct shot at outside groups and governments who have condemned China for its treatment against Muslim ethic minorities who mostly reside in the far northwest part of the country.
Numerous governments, including the United States, and numerous human rights organizations — Amnesty International and United Nations experts, among them — have concluded China is waging genocide against the Uyghurs after some members of the ethnic group began demanding a measure of cultural independence in 2014.
China has denied the allegation and its response was, perhaps, even more direct than imaginable. In a signature moment of the Olympics, with massive audiences both inside the country and around the globe, it sent a Uyghur woman to essentially declare all is good and what you’ve heard isn’t true.
Well, that’s the Chinese story, at least.
But if the CCP is going to use Dinigeer Yilamujiang as a prop for its story, then let her also serve as a chance for the rest of the world to learn about her people.
There is universal consensus among governments, independent groups and international journalists about what is happening in the Xinjiang province. It was reached despite the enormous risks politically, economically or even for security reasons in taking on China.
The imprisonment of perhaps 1 million Uyghurs.
The erasing of culture.
Rapes, beatings, mandated abortions, starvations and every other form of torture imaginable.
“The evidence is overwhelming,” Williams Nee of the Chinese Human Rights Defenders and a former analyst for Amnesty International told Yahoo Sports.
China denies it, but it has also denied the United Nation’s own high commissioner for human rights access to the area. No matter, there are satellite images of the camps, testimony from Uyghurs who escaped as refugees, and reports from independent groups and journalists who snuck in.
Everything is geared to making the Uyghurs comply with the Chinese central government and Han culture, even if that means ensuring fewer Uyghurs exist, both now and in the future. The racism is appalling. Any objectors can be used to work the cotton fields so the government can profit off their instance on basic human dignity.
The Uyghurs, among others in the region, “face systematic, state-organized mass imprisonment, torture and persecution amounting to crimes against humanity,” Amnesty International stated in 2021.
“It should shock the conscience of humanity that massive numbers of people have been subjected to brainwashing, torture and other degrading treatment in internment camps, while millions more live in fear amid a vast surveillance apparatus,” the report stated.
If Chinese president Xi Jinping wants an Olympic torch to say there is nothing to see here, well, let the rest of the world that lives outside of his state-controlled media and internet firewalls take the time to look longer and harder and consider what, in even the smallest of ways, they can do to help.
Let this backfire. Let this draw attention to this state-run terrorism. Let this become a global movement.
Let this grow so loud that it drowns out the IOC’s pathetic willingness to be used as a propaganda prop this month — an effort complete with a pathetic, humiliating, all but written-by-Beijing-speech from IOC President Thomas Bach, for whom history will forever condemn.
“They wanted the IOC to send the message that this wasn’t about politics and then make it all about politics,” Nee said. “They want to show to their own people and the world, especially the Muslim world, an image of ethic unity. But you can’t say everything is fine and not let the United Nations, or anyone else, in to investigate.”
Let it extend to other global businesses, organizations and prominent people. Let this be the tipping point.
This is why the United States and others engaged in a “diplomatic boycott” of these Games. No U.S. government officials were there to witness, and thus lend credence to, this mass brainwashing.
The athletes, who want to be there, will be able to compete. It’s an individual choice, not a government mandate.
The fact Dinigeer Yilamujiang lit the cauldron, however, shows that China was stung by the boycott and was angry about the lack of American, British and other dignitaries in Beijing on Friday.
It also showed it is concerned about the narrative, its fear about the truth leaking out. A hit dog will bark and China was howling on Friday.
It needed, in the biggest way possible, to try to message its own people and those around the world that if they happen to have heard about any trouble with the Uyghurs — if they heard about the rapes and the imprisonments and the torture and the slavery, if the growing noise about these atrocities had reached them — well, it isn’t true.
Just look at the happy, healthy, smiling face of Dinigeer Yilamujiang as she fired up that cauldron.
Well, the cauldron is lit. Now let the rest of the world follow its glow toward the truth.