Monday. 27.05.2024

A member of the Uighur people lit the Olympic cauldron for the Beijing Winter Games at the opening ceremony on Friday.

Cross country skier Dinigeer Yilamujiang, 21, lit the cauldron together with Zhao Jiawen, the first man to represent CHina in Nordic combined skier, at National Stadium.

China has come under fire from western nations for its treatment of the Uighur people, a largely Muslim ethnic group in the province of Xinjiang.

People who have escaped the Xinjiang region that is home to many Uighurs allege that people are rounded up and sent to facilities - dubbed re-education centres - where they are forced to stop behaviour associated with Uighur culture.

Violations that could send a person to such a centre include growing a long beard or being actively religious.

China has denied the accusations and accused some Uighur groups of backing separatist causes and even of being behind terrorist attacks.

Countries including the United States and Britain said they would not send political officials to the Olympics in a diplomatic boycott over this issue as well as it threats towards Taiwan and supression of the democracy movement in Hong Kong.

First podium

Yilamujiang is the first Chinese cross country skier to make a podium in a competition sanctioned by the ruling body FIS when she came second in a sprint race in Beijing in 2019.

She competed at the 2021 world championships in Oberstdorf, Germany, with results including a 41st place over 10km. She has not competed in this season's World Cup.

Yilamujiang is listed to compete in the women's 15km skiathlon at the Beijing Games on Saturday.

Member of Uighur minority lights Olympic cauldron at Beijing Games