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Posted at: Feb 11, 2019, 8:31 AM; last updated: Feb 11, 2019, 8:31 AM (IST)

Turkey lashes out at China over treatment of Uighurs

Ankara calls it ‘great embarrassment’ for humanity
Turkey lashes out at China over treatment of Uighurs

Ankara, February 10

Turkey  has condemned China’s treatment of its Muslim ethnic Uighur people as  “a great embarrassment for humanity”, adding to rights groups’ recent  criticism  over mass detentions of the Turkic-speaking minority.

“The  systematic assimilation policy of Chinese authorities towards Uighur  Turks is a great embarrassment for humanity,” Turkish foreign ministry  spokesman  Hami Aksoy said in a statement.

The  northwest Xinjiang region of China, where most Uighurs live, has been  under heavy police surveillance in recent years, after violent  inter-ethnic tensions.

Nearly  one million Uighurs and other Turkic language-speaking minorities in  China have reportedly been held in re-education camps, according to a UN  panel  of experts.

 Beijing  says the “vocational education centres” help people steer clear of  terrorism and allow them to be reintegrated into society.

But  critics say China is seeking to assimilate Xinjiang’s minority  population and suppress religious and cultural practices that conflict  with Communist  ideology and the dominant Han culture.  “It  is no longer a secret that more than one million Uighur Turks, who are  exposed to arbitrary arrests, are subjected to torture and political  brainwashing  in concentration centres and prisons,” Aksoy said in the Turkish  foreign ministry statement. “Uighurs who are not detained in the camps are also under great pressure.”

 Turkey  called on the international community and UN Secretary General Antonio  Guterres “to take effective steps to end the human tragedy in Xinjiang  region”.

Most  mainly Muslim countries have not been vocal on the issue, not  criticising the government in China, which is an important trading  partner. Aksoy also said Turkey had learned of the “tragic” death in custody of Uighur poet and musician Abdurehim Heyit. “This  tragic incident has further strengthened the Turkish public’s reaction  to the serious human rights violations in Xinjiang region.” — AFP

Who are Uighurs

  • The Uighurs make up about 45 per cent of the population in Xinjiang, an autonomous region within China. They see themselves as culturally and ethnically close to Central Asian nations
  • In recent decades, large numbers of Han Chinese (China’s ethnic majority) have migrated to Xinjiang, and the Uighurs feel their culture is under threat


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