Beijing Olympics comes to an end, but plight of Uyghur Muslims goes on: ‘Games were a slap in our faces’

‘People are cheering in the Olympics stadiums — and on the other side of China, Uyghurs are screaming, begging for help and release from detention camps’ says Shayida Ali, a Uyghur in exile with family still in Xinjiang. Arpan Rai reports

Tuesday 22 February 2022 09:58
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<p>Starting in 2017, China is estimated to have detained more than a million Uyghurs in what it has called vocational training centres</p>

Starting in 2017, China is estimated to have detained more than a million Uyghurs in what it has called vocational training centres

China is celebrating the completion of the Beijing Winter Olympics, with Sunday night’s closing ceremony bringing an end to a controversial Games that will be remembered for a major doping scandal and extremely tight Covid restrictions limiting the movements of athletes, officials and journalists alike.

But while the Olympic circus moves on, for the families of Uyghur Muslims trapped in detention camps in Xinjiang province, the sporting event has served as a “slap in the face” and a stark example of global inaction in the face of their plight.

A UN human rights panel has previously said it has credible reports that more than a million Uyghurs have been detained by the Chinese authorities in a campaign that some critics have described as “cultural genocide”. The Chinese government says the detention centres are voluntary vocational training centres, and on the eve of the Games agreed to a visit to the region by UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet – on the condition the trip should be “friendly”.

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