Saturday, 20 July, 2019

Turkey urges China to respect Uighur rights, close camps

Activists protest the treatment of Uyghur Muslims by Chinese authorities in the East Turkestan region of China's Xinjiang province at a protest outside the Chinese embassy in London England on Feb. 2 2019. On Feb. 9 2019 Turkey demanded China clo Uighur musician 'tortured to death in China camp', campaigners claim
Patty Aguilar | 12 February, 2019, 20:30

Muslims, which make up around 45 per cent of Xinjiang's population, have long accused Chinese authorities of cultural, religious and economic discrimination.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry on Saturday called on China to close its detention centres for Muslims, saying the camps said to hold almost a million ethnic Uighurs and other Turkic-language speaking minorities are a "great shame for humanity".

China on Monday trashed Turkey's allegations that almost one million Uighur Muslims were subjected to torture and political brainwashing at concentration camps and prisons in the Xinjiang region.

Turkish foreign ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy said: "The systematic assimilation policy of Chinese authorities towards Uighur Turks is a great embarrassment for humanity".

While these responses specifically addressed Aksoy's claims, they also showcase Beijing's general answers to accusations that a million Uighurs are being held in re-education centers in China.

The minister said Turkey had also learned of the death in prison of famed Uyghur musician and poet Abdurehim Heyit, who had been sentenced to eight years over one of his songs. "We hope the relevant Turkish persons can distinguish between right and wrong and correct their mistakes", Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said during a daily press briefing.

Uighur Muslims supporters and Turkish nationals burn the Chinese flag in front of the Chinese consulate in Istanbul on July 5, 2018.

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"This is a big deal: [Turkey is] The first Muslim-majority country to criticize China so directly for its horrendous treatment of Uighur Muslims, and one of the most powerful Muslim-majority countries at that", Kenneth Roth, the head of Human Rights Watch, said on Twitter.

Denying the allegation, Hua said lives of people in Xinjiang had "significantly improved" with China's intensified "anti-terrorist measures".

"We also call on the worldwide community and UN Secretary-General to take effective steps to end the human tragedy in Xinjiang Region", he added.

"Turkey notes they [Uighurs] "are subjected to torture and political brainwashing in concentration centers and prisons", Roth added.

An ABC investigation found that these camps span more than 2 million square metres, housing detainees forced to pledge their allegiance to the Chinese state under duress.

Numerous UN experts, treaty bodies, and the High Commissioner for Human Rights have expressed grave concern about the situation in Xinjiang and called for unrestricted access to the region. "No country in the world should be able to get away with arbitrarily detaining a million of its own people", said Philip Lynch, Director of International Service for Human Rights. "We are now looking to the HRC to act - and get to the truth".

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