Posts tagged ‘East Turkestan’

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

International Experts bear Testimony to Intuitively-Felt Harmony in Xinjiang

Lots of China experts are there to help “the world learn more about the Chinese autonomous region while beating misinterpretations and distortions with hard facts.” According to Xinhua news agency, they hail from France, Qatar, Sri Lanka, and Egypt (English version). A Chinese version quotes the French scholar as saying that “by personal experience, one could intuitively feel multi-ethnic harmony in Xinjiang (… 通过亲身体验说,中国有56个民族,在新疆可以直观地感受到这种多民族融合).

China’s State Council published a white paper on historical matters concerning Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region in northwest China on Sunday.

The full white paper’s English version is only 19 pages long, and doesn’t address the issue of “reeducation” camps. It does, however, concern itself with the issue of slavery under the rule of the Turks, and the Uighurs’ liberation with support from Tang Dynasty troops.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Beijing invites Turkish delegation for fact-finding mission in Xinjiang, says Erdogan advisor

The following is a translation from a short news article on TRT Ankara‘s foreign radio website. On February 4, Amnesty International had published a press release, demanding “an international fact-finding mission to investigate credible allegations that up to one million Turkic Muslims are being arbitrarily detained in ‘political education’ camps across Xinjiang, a region in northwest China”. AI had addressed their demand to the UN Human Rights Council.

TRT World (Chinese), July 4, 2019 — President Erdogan has given a positive response to China’s invitation to examine the Uyghurs’ situation

埃尔多安总统积极回应中方观察维吾尔人状况邀请

Presidential communications director Fahrettin Altun said that Beijing had invited a delegation to carry out an on-site observation on Uyghur life in Xinjiang autonomous region.

总统府通讯署署长阿勒屯(Fahrettin Altun)表示,北京邀请一个代表团前往中国对在新疆自治区生活的维吾尔人的状况进行实地观察。

In a statement published on social media concerning President Erdogan’s China trip, Altun said that during Erdogan’s visit to China, all aspects of relations between Turkey and China had been discussed, including the Uyghurs.

通过社交媒体就总统埃尔多安的中国之行发表声明的阿勒屯说,在埃尔多安总统的中国访问期间,包括维吾尔人在内,土耳其和中国关系的所有方面得到全面讨论。

Altun sermonized:

阿勒屯讲道:

“President Erdogan has made it clear that our only wish is that Uyghurs in China live in peace, happiness and prosperity, and to give our opinions and expectations to our counterparts. Also, the Chinese side invited the Turkish side to send a delegation to China to carry out an on-site observation on Uyghur life in Xinjiang autonomous region. The revered President has responded positively to this invitation.”

“埃尔多安总统表明了维吾尔人在中国生活在和平,幸福和繁荣之中是我们唯一的愿望,并将关于这一问题上观点和期待转达给对方。此外,中方还邀请土耳其方面派遣一支代表团前往中国,以对生活在新疆自治区的维吾尔人状况进行实地观察。尊敬的总统对此邀请作出了积极回应。”

Altun also said that President Erdogan and Chinese State Chairman Xi Jinping have reached consensus in the fields of promoting bilateral trade, investment, research and development, science and technology, civil aviation, tourism, and culture. The two leaders also decided to strengthen the ties [provided by] the gateway of the historic silk road between East and West.

阿勒屯还表示,总统埃尔多安和中国国家主席习近平就推进双边贸易、投资、研发、科学技术、民航、旅游和文化领域达成共识,两位领导人还决定加强历史丝绸之路东西大门之间的纽带。”

CCTV’s main evening news broadcast “xinwen lianbo”, on July 2, quoted Xi Jinping as telling Erdogan that

please click picture for video

Practical measures must be taken to promote anti-terrorism cooperation. China appreciates Mr. President’s repeated reiterations not  to allow any forces to engage in anti-Chinese separatist activities from Turkey, and attaches great importance to Turkey’s emphasis on supporting China’s strikes against terrorism. [China] hopes to strengthen cooperation with Turkey in the field of counter-terrorism.

要采取切实行动,推进反恐安全合作。中方赞赏总统先生多次重申不允许任何势力在土耳其从事反华分裂活动,重视土方多次强调支持中方打击恐怖主义,愿同土方加强在国际反恐领域合作。

In summer 2009, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had reportedly referred to Beijing’s policies on Xinjiang as “a genocide. There’s no point in interpreting this otherwise”. Maybe he now sees a point in re-interpreting the situation.

____________

Updates / Related

“Abschied vom Westen”, Die Welt, July 12, 2019

____________

Thursday, March 21, 2019

The Two Meetings, and how Red History re-educated Yang Liwei

The following is a translated excerpt from “People’s Daily” online, published there on March 9, during the “two meetings”, i. e. the “National People’s Congress” and the “Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference” sessions earlier this month.

The term “re-education” has never left the Chinese language – there has always been “re-education” in the PRC, even though the use of the term may have peaked during Maoism.

Main Link (original title): Actively Participating in the Management of State Affairs, Fostering the Propagation of Popular Science

Links within blockquotes added during translation.

Host: Hello everyone, this is People’s Daily online’s video interview. Today, we have run into Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference’s committee member and space-flight hero Yang Liwei. Hello, Yang laoshi. First of all, a question that everyone is particularly interested in, how has your past year of duty been?

大家好,这里是人民网视频访谈。今天我们遇到了全国政协委员、航天英雄杨利伟,杨老师您好。首先大家特别关注,在去年一年,您的履职情况是怎样的呢?

Yang Liwei: First of all, by being able to enter the big family of the Political Consultative Conference I have learned and seen many things, because following my participation in last year’s two meetings, especially when attending the meeting, I took the path of a committee member, and by doing so, we from the manned space flight can do good propaganda, and at the same time make the space flight third generation’s selection situation known. As it happens, we have just completed the pre-selection of third-generation astronauts, under everyone’s attention. From here, a completely new work can be touched upon. Following this kind of getting in touch, I like and love this big family more and more, the CPPCC is really good, with people from different trades coming across each other and conducting exchanges which helps you to understand a lot. Especially last year I have participated in many CPPCC activities, going out and conducting investigation and research left a really deep impression on me.

首先能够去加入政协这个大家庭,去年一年对我来讲学到了很多东西,也看到了很多东西,因为随着参加去年的两会,特别是参加会议的时候,我走了委员通道,用这种方式对我们载人航天也进行了一个很好的宣传,同时也介绍了一下第三批航天员的选拔情况,恰恰我们现在第三批航天员的初选已经结束了,大家很关注。从这开始之后,一个全新的工作,就是让自己去接触。随着这种接触,越来越喜欢这个大家庭和爱上这个大家庭,政协真的是很好,不同界别的人交叉在一起进行交流,会让你了解很多。特别是在去年,又参加了很多政协的活动,出去进行了调研,给我留下印象非常的深刻。

Host: To which kind of impression can you think back now, for example, that was very deep?

主持人:比如什么样的印象让您现在回想起来很深刻?

Yang Liwei: We studied and researched the old revolutionary area of Jiangxi, conducting research themed “protection and use of red resources”. Apart from that, after getting to the old revoltionary areas, we looked at the area’s development, and at the same time received a very good re-education of the Red Army of that time, leaving a really very deep impression on us. Before, it could all be seen on the media, but this time’s personal experience, to see these things, spells reeducation to me.

我们调研到了江西老区,进行“红色资源的保护与利用”的主题调研,除了调研红色资源的保护和利用,到了革命老区之后,看到了老区的发展,同时也进一步接受了那个时候红军的一个很好的再教育,给我留下的印象真的非常深刻。以前都是在媒体上看到的,这一次身临其境的去看,看到了一些东西,对我来讲,也是进行再一次教育。

No kidding – it’s a real astronaut

In this process, because we were in touch with the old revolutionary area’s common people, between the lines and idioms they used, besides from red genes and revolutionary continued tradition, as astronauts, I also met many children there. They were very interested in space flight. In this process, after recognizing us, they were really happy, and also, very small children all knowing made me feel gratified. Actually, when you think deeply about what forty years of reform and opening have brought to this country, because of all kinds of development of differing degrees, allows us to even better make contact with the common people, and the common people understanding us better. So, by doing some study and research, I got to know from my own experience how to maintain and how to increase efficiency of this method, how to improve our participation in the management of state affairs, and how to implement it better. Practical study and research is the best way. So, last year, especially by this process, many members still have some interaction, especially with an online app opened by the CPPCC for members. By using modern technology, on this platform, you will understand many members’ proposals and advice quite well, and the information is very helpful at our work. So, this year, apart from my job, I should say that what influenced me most has been this work.

在这个过程当中,因为接触了红区的老百姓,在他们字里行间,除了红色基因、红色传承以外,作为航天员来讲,对我来讲,因为碰到很多孩子,在那个地方。对航天又非常的感兴趣。在这个过程当中,认出来我们之后非常高兴,而且很小的孩子都知道,让我非常的欣慰,实际上深层次去想,国家经过40年的改革开放,给国家带来的是什么,因为各种各样的不同程度的发展,让我们能去更好地接触到老百姓,和老百姓更好地了解我们。所以,通过一些调研,也让我深刻体会到了,怎么样去保持增效这种方式,提高我们参政议政的能力,怎么样把它更好地落到实处。实际的调研是最好的一个方式。所以,通过去年这一年,特别是因为在这个过程当中,很多委员还有一些互动,特别是我们现在政协又开通了委员的网上APP,用现代的技术手段,你在这个平台上会了解很多不同委员的一些建言献策也好,信息也好,对我的工作有很大的帮助。所以,这一年对我来讲,除了本职工作以外,应该说对我影响最大的还是这项工作。

[…]

____________

Related

Xinjiang Re-education Camps, Wikipedia
Uighur’s Today, Han’s Tomorrow, Aug 19, 2018
How Yellow was my Hometown, Febr 14, 2015
Open the Skies for the Young, May 5, 2013
National Tourism and Leisure, Febr 18, 2013
A Role in School Curricula, Sep 1, 2009

____________

Sunday, August 19, 2018

State Council Information Office holds “Media Manager’s Research and Study Class” in Xinjiang

The following is a translation of a Xinhua news article, published online on July 21. Links within blockquotes added during translation.

23 Media Managers from 18 Countries gather in Xinjiang to participate in “Silk Road’s Economic Belt Media Managers’ Research and Study Class from Relevant Countries”

Xinhua Urumqi, July 21 (Ayi Nu’er reporting) — On July 21, twenty-three media managers from eighteen countries along the “One Belt one Road” gathered in Xinjiang Urumqi to take part in a “Silk Road Economic Belt research class for media managers from relevant Countries”, organized by the State Council Information Office of the People’s Republic of China.

新华社乌鲁木齐7月21日电(记者阿依努尔)21日,来自“一带一路”沿线18个国家的23家媒体负责人共聚新疆乌鲁木齐,参加由国务院新闻办公室主办的“丝绸之路经济带相关国家媒体负责人研修班”,对新疆经济社会发展进行广泛深入了解。

At that day’s class opening ceremony, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region Party Committee member of the standing committee and propaganda department director Tian Wen said that Xinjiang covers 1.6t million square kilometers, that it is a place where many cultures meet, and also a thoroughfare of the old Silk Road. After the “One Belt one Road” initiative had been put forward, Xinjiang, helped by its unique geographic situation and cultural advantages, as a core area for the Silk Road’s economic belt, actively built regional traffic hubs, trade and commerce logistics centers, financial centers, cultural science education centers, medical service centers, and comprehensively deepened exchanges and cooperation with the countries along the “Belt and Road”.

在当日举行的开班仪式上,新疆维吾尔自治区党委常委、宣传部部长田文说,新疆面积166万平方公里,是多种文化交汇之地,也是古丝绸之路通衢之地,“一带一路”倡议提出后,作为丝绸之路经济带核心区,新疆借助独特地缘、人文优势,积极建设区域性交通枢纽中心、商贸物流中心、金融中心、文化科教中心、医疗服务中心,全面深化与“一带一路”沿线各国交流与合作。

Taking part in this research class are media managers from France, Germany, Russia, India, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Canada, Egypt, and other countries, involving Asia, Europe, Africa, and North America.

参加此次研修班的媒体负责人来自法国、德国、俄罗斯、印度、巴基斯坦、哈萨克斯坦、吉尔吉斯斯坦、乌兹别克斯坦、加拿大、埃及等18个国家,涉及亚洲、欧洲、非洲、北美洲四大洲。

Tarek Ramadan Mohamed Hussein, deputy editor in chief of Egpytian paper “Golden Pyramid Evening News”, said that the research and study class would be another step towards deepening awareness of the real level of Xinjiang’s development.

埃及《金字塔晚报》副总编塔里克·拉马丹·穆罕默德·侯赛因表示,研修班将进一步加深自己对新疆真实发展水平的认知。

From July 21 to 25, these media managers will have informal discussions and exchanges with Chinese experts and scholars from the fields of economics, culture, ethnic groups, religion etc.. They will also visit Changji Hui Autonomous Prefecture, Ili Kazakh Autonomous Prefecture and other places for visits and observations. After that, they will continue studies in Beijing.

21日-25日,这些媒体人士将与中国经济、文化、民族、宗教等领域专家学者座谈交流,还将前往新疆昌吉回族自治州、伊犁哈萨克自治州等地参观考察。之后,他们将赴北京继续考察学习活动。

Since 2012, the State Council Information Office has held seven classes for media managers from relative countries in a row, thus opening a new window for humanities exchanges.

国务院新闻办公室自2012年起,连续举办7期相关国家媒体负责人研修班,打开了新的人文交流窗口。

____________

Related

Uyghurs and Muslim minorities situation, Aug 9, 2018
Global local sticks tv, Oct 22, 2009
Be more Xinhua, Oct 10, 2009

“Entwicklung basiert auf Stabilität”, CRI, Aug 14, 2018
凯赛尔·阿不都克热木, Xinhua, Aug 13, 2018
Press Review, China Digital Times, Aug 13, 2018

____________

Sunday, August 19, 2018

A VoA Chinese article on the situation of Uyghurs and Muslim minorities

The following is a translation of a Voice of America (VoA) Chinese service’s online article, published on July 27 this year. Links within blockquotes added during translation.

The article refers to a Congressional-Executive Commission on China hearing, conducted on July 26.

World Uyghur Congress’ president Rebiya Kadeer was present at the hearing, and apparently made her remarks to VoA – quoted in the article – on the hearing’s sidelines.

Rebiya Kadeer: Uighurs Today is the Han Chinese peoples’ Tomorrow

Washington — “This is one of the most terrifying things currently happening,” Florida Senator Marco Rubio said. “What is happening under this regime’s jurisdiction looks like a science-fiction novel!”

“ 这是当今世界上发生的最令人毛骨悚然的事情之一, ”美国佛罗里达州联邦参议员鲁比奥(Marco Rubio)说,“这个政权治下发生的事情像是科幻小说!”

What he was referring to is the human rights crisis Xinjiang is currently facing.

他指的是新疆当下面临的人权危机。

As chairman of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, Rubio convened a hearing at Senate Office Building1) on Thursday (July 26), to closely follow the situation of Uighur and other Muslim racial minorities’ situation in Xinjiang. This was the US Congress’ first public hearing about this issue.

作为美国国会及行政当局中国委员会主席,星期四(7月26日),鲁比奥在参议院大楼召集了一场听证会,关注维吾尔人和新疆其他穆斯林少数族裔的境遇。这是美国国会首次就这一问题举行公开听证。

Many witnesses attending the hearing said that an all-pervasive security system, DNA gathering, large-scale arbitrary detention, cruelty, extreme restrictions on religion and culture … the Chinese government was working hard to turn Xinjiang into the world’s most highly technogical “policing area”.

出席听证会的多名证人说,无孔不入的监控系统、DNA采集、大规模任意拘押、酷刑、对宗教和文化的极端限制……中国政府正在努力将新疆变为全世界最高科技的“警察地区”。”。

Ambassador Kelley E. Currie, representative to the United Nations Economic and Social Council, said that from April 2017 on, said that the degree of repression by the Chinese authorities, under the leadership of Xi Jinping, was “shocking”, and even hard to compare with the peak time of the “Cultural Revolution”.

美国驻联合国经济和社会理事会代表凯利·克里(Kelley E. Currie)大使说,从2017年4月起,以习近平为首的中国当局对维吾尔人的镇压程度“令人震惊”,即使是在“文化大革命”顶峰时期也难以比及。

“There are bans on ‘unsusual’ beards, and bans on women wearing combinations of glasses and veils in public squares. Muslims refusing to wear shorts, to smoke, to drink alcohol or to eat pork are regarded as criminals. Even refusing to watch official television station’s programs are proofs of crime,” she said.2)

“禁止男子留‘不正常的’胡须,禁止女性在公众场合戴面纱。拒绝穿短裤,拒绝抽烟、喝酒、吃猪肉的穆斯林都被当作犯罪,就连拒绝看官方电视台的节目也是罪证,”她说。

Gulchehra Hoja is a reporter3) at the Uighur team of Radio Free Asia’s headquarters in Washington D.C.. In February this year, she learned that nearly twenty of her own relatives in Xinjiang had been arrested by the Chinese public security department on that day. Before that, her younger brother had been arrested by police, and locked into a re-education camp.

古丽恰克热·霍迦是总部设在华盛顿的自由亚洲电台维语组的记者。今年2月,她得知自己新疆的近20名亲属在同一天被中国公安部门逮捕。此前,她的弟弟已被警方抓走,关进再教育营。

“Testifying here today, and bringing this up still makes me feel sad. My parents remain trapped, and more than twenty of my relatives remain unaccounted for. It can be said with near-certainty that they have been locked into the Chinese government’s so-called ‘re-education camps’,” she said in tears.

“今天我在这里作证 ,说起这些依然让我感到悲伤,我的父母目前仍然被困, 我的20多名亲属仍然下落不明。几乎可以肯定他们被关进了中国政府所谓的‘再教育营’, ”她含着泪说。

Relatives of her five Uighur colleagues have also been arrested and sentenced in China, and this is only a microcosm of the tragedies going on in countless Muslim households in Xinjiang. According to a number of sources, the number of Uighurs imprisoned in the authorities’ “education and transformation” camps is currently at more than one million.

她的另外五名维吾尔同事也都有家人在中国被拘捕、判刑,而这只是无数新疆穆斯林家庭悲剧的缩影。各方消息来源说,目前被关在中国当局以“教育转化”为名建设的营地中的维吾尔人有100多万。

Well-known Uighur activist Rebiya Kadeer told VoA that among her family people, more than thirty people had been arrested. She said that the actual number of Uighurs under arrest could be as high as 2 million, and that many children in the region had been sent to orphanages.

知名维吾尔活动人士热比娅告诉美国之音,她自己的家人中有30多人被抓走。她说,被拘禁的维吾尔人的真实数字可能高达200万,当地还有很多儿童被送进孤儿院。

“What is happening in East Turkestan brings to mind the crimes of nazi Germany against Jews during the second world war,” she said. “US Congress should put forward a resolution to close these concentration camps. US officials should earnestly raise the issue of the Uighurs with Chinese officials.”

“发生在东突厥斯坦的事让人联想到第二次大战期间纳粹德国对犹太人的罪行,” 热比娅说,“美国国会应该提出决议案,关闭这些集中营。美国官员应该严肃地和中国官员提出维吾尔人的问题。”

Kadeer also said that not only Americans, but Chinese people too, should stand up. She hoped to send this kind of message to the Han Chinese through the Voice of America: “Our today (is) their tomorrow.”

热比娅还说,不仅是美国,中国人也应该站起身来。她希望通过美国之音向汉人传达这样一个信息:“我们的今天,(就是)他们的明天。”

Rubio said that it was also disturbing that there were companies that intentionally or unintentionally became helpers in the Chinese authorities’ violations of human rights and privacy. He mentioned Hikvision and Dahua technology company as suppliers of monitoring equipment to the authorities in Xinjiang, and also criticized an American company from Massachusetts for supplying DNA gathering tools to Xinjiang.

鲁比奥议员说,在新疆镇压运动中同样令人不安的是,一些企业有意或无意地成为中国当局侵犯人权和隐私的帮凶。他点名中国的海康威视和大华科技公司为新疆当局提供监控设备, 同时批评美国麻萨诸塞州的一家公司为新疆提供DNA采集工具。

He said that some multi-national companies that didn’t like certain positions held by the US government refused to do business with the government, but lobbied in Washington every day, hoping to enter China’s vast markets, turning a blind eye to China’s governing Communist Party’s human rights violations.4)

他说,一些跨国公司因为不喜欢美国政府的某些立场,拒绝和政府做生意,却每天在华盛顿游说,希望进入中国的广阔市场,对中国执政的共产党侵犯人权的行为视若无睹。

“This is really appalling, and absolutely hypocritical,” he said.

“这实在令人气愤,太虚伪了,” 鲁比奥说。

Also testifying at the hearing were US department of commerce officials, scholars, and journalists. With several lawmakers, from the dimensions of US-Sino relations, they explored the political options of dealing with the issue, including raising world peoples’ attention to the fate of the Uighurs, restricting American companies’ relevant business with China, punishing Xinjiang central government officials based on the Magnitsky act, etc..

在听证会上作证的还有美国商务部官员、学者以及新闻工作者。他们和多名议员一道从美中关系的维度探讨处理该问题的政治选项,包括继续引起世人对维吾尔人命运的关注,限制相关美国公司与中国的生意往来,通过《全球马格尼茨基人权问责法》惩治新疆主政官员等。

____________

Notes

1) this probably refers to the 124 Dirksen Senate Office Building

2) from Currie’s written statement (as of July 25, i. e. one day before the hearing):

The scope of this campaign is truly breathtaking: authorities now prohibit “abnormal” beards and the wearing of veils in public, and classify refusal to watch state television, refusal to wear shorts, abstention from alcohol and tobacco, refusal to eat pork, fasting during the holy month of Ramadan, or practicing traditional funeral rituals, as potential signs that individuals harbor extreme religious views.

3) from Gulchehra Hoja’s testimony:

As I testify before you here today, it grieves me to no end to say that my parents remain under threat, and more than two dozen of my relatives in China are missing – almost certainly held in re-education camps run by authorities in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.

4) starting here – or, if it takes too long to load, “a partial and rough transcript”
____________

Related

“Mistakenly deported”, CBC Radio, Aug 8, 2018

Updates/Related

Research and Study Class, Aug 19, 2018
Turkey, Anadolu Opinion, Oct 31, 2017

____________

Friday, July 27, 2018

Sports, Meeting the Bad Guys

Once she was the richest woman in Xinjiang, having amassed a fortune trading commodities with neighboring Central Asian countries and owning Urumqi’s largest department store.

Officials would bring foreign visitors to meet her, as living refutation of Uighurs’ complaints that Chinese policies relegated them to second-class citizenship.

That’s how the Christian Science Monitor described the earlier life of Rebiya Kadeer, in summer 2009. Then, the article moved on to her later years in East Turkestan and China – her fall from grace, her arrest, and her term in jail during the early 2000s.

Her story came to my mind when Mesut Özil, a player for Arsenal and a German citizen, resigned from Germany’s “national team” on Sunday, i. e. from the German Football Association’s (DFB) top team that vies for the FIFA World Cups or at the UEFA European Championships every four years respectively.

Özil, approaching his 30th birthday this year, has been a star in Germany for most of the past decade. There have also been derogatory remarks about him in the past, and a right-wing politician called Özil a “plastic German” live on television, referring to the synthetic material covering German identity cards. But Özil’s career developed unobstructedly. So did his public image.

Özil was born as a Turkish citizen, in the German town of Gelsenkirchen. He took German citizenship in 2007, and if the few statements he publicly made are something to go by, he probably considers himself a citizen of the world.

Kadeer was reportedly on her way to meet a politician in Urumqi when she was arrested, in 1999. The politician was a bad guy – an American.

Özil met a politician at Arsenal in London earlier this year. The politician was a bad guy, too – the Turkish president.

Obviously, there are differences between the American bad guy and the Turkish bad guy. The American politician was a bad guy because he cared about human rights. The Turkish president is a bad guy because he gives a damn on human rights, and on the rule of law.

But this is where Özil’s fall from grace began. It’s in the nature of the sport that he was known way beyond the world of soccer, Germany’s number one sport. He was sold – by the DFB and by German politics – as a shining example of “integration”, the incorporation of migrants into German society.

That was weird, given that he had lived in Germany from day one of his life anyway, but propaganda doesn’t have to be accurate. It is meant to tie the nation together, rather than to inform it. And for about a decade, the message seemed to work for the cause of social cohesion.

Soccer doesn’t breed the most civil interaction, certainly not among the fan base. And it isn’t the best ground for decent standards on the level of business operations either. To demand that people who make millions from playing soccer should be “role models” is an excessive demand – no matter if they are made on foreigners or compatriots, migrants or Mayflower descendants (or whatever their German equivalents may be). If things go well, you won’t get into public-relations trouble. But it can easily happen. It is currently happening to the DFB president, Reinhard Grindel, too, because much of Özil’s criticism in his letter of resignation was targeted at him, and while the press is critical of the accusations in Özil’s letter of resignation, the DFB is criticized mercilessly – for “racism” by some, for chaotic management by many.

Özil’s preparedness to meet Turkish president Erdogan for a photo op was read as an endorsement for the campaigning politician by many in Germany, and probably by some Turkish voters, too. His explanation that it wasn’t meant to be an endorsement, but just a show of respect for the presidential office, didn’t convince the German public.

But why did he have to seek excuses at all? The world of sports isn’t about human rights – not even when it comes to safety standards. And did Jacques Rogge have to apologize for meeting Hu Jintao? Not really.

Did Lothar Matthäus have to explain why he had been sitting next to Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán when the country’s political leader opened a soccer stadium? Neither.

Socializing with unpleasant political leaders, and making yourself useful (or making them useful to yourself, or both) is an important element of “professional sports” – if you  can’t put up with it, change it, or stop being a fan. But don’t beam your anger on a few guys in particular.

Is there a moral to this story? Maybe it is a lesson about the dangers of propaganda. For most of the past decade, Özil fitted well into collective German ego-boosting. Now, sudden new fans use his image to agitate their audiences.

Don’t hold your breath for role models in sports. Once in a while, there may be some – maybe Muhammad Ali became one, in the course of many decades. But usually, some of a person’s action (or inaction) may be admirable, some other may be detestable.

Hundreds of sports officials, and thousands of cadres, have proven by their behavior that commercial sports isn’t doing embroidery.

That said, it isn’t writing essays, either.

%d bloggers like this: