'Others should join Turkey and defend China's Uighurs'

Nellie Chapman
February 12, 2019

Turkey's foreign ministry released a statement on Saturday pressing China to respect the human rights of the Uighur minority in the autonomous Xinjiang region and close the "concentration camps" which held the Turkic Muslim population.

The detention and "re-education" of as many as 1 million Uighurs in far west China has been condemned by human rights groups and prompted calls for sanctions from USA lawmakers, who reject China's assertion that the camps are voluntary education centers that help purge "ideological diseases".

On Saturday, Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy released a statement condemning the "torture and political brainwashing" allegedly committed by the Chinese government while "systematically assimilating" the country's minority Muslim population. Since 2017, Amnesty International estimates up to 1 million have been detained in "re-education" camps. "We hope the relevant Turkish persons can distinguish between right and wrong and correct their mistakes", spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters.

Turkey has called on China to close its Muslim internment camps, which are a "great embarrassment for humanity".

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

China's embassy in Ankara said Aksoy's concerns were unfounded and called on the Turkish government to withdraw the statement.

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Sixteen leading global human rights organizations have called for an worldwide investigation into China's mass incarceration of the Uighurs and other Turkic Muslims in Xinjiang province.

The spokesperson informed that China has taken many counter-terrorism and de-extremism measures in the region as it has faced grave terror threats since the 1990s which severely threaten the safety of all people in Xinjiang. The text also requests that UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres "utilize his good offices" to obtain such elections.

This comes after human rights organizations, earlier this month, called on the United Nations Human Rights Council to adopt a resolution establishing an global fact-finding mission to Xinjiang. He urged the government to also release videos to prove that others believed detained are in good health amid reports of neglectful and sometimes brutal conditions in the camps.

Naidoo said China must be held accountable for its repressive actions. His detention was considered indicative of China's determination to crack down on Uighur intellectuals and cultural figures in an effort some say to eradicate a separate Uighur language and identity.

"For too long Uighurs and other Muslims have suffered gross repression at the hands of Chinese authorities", said Dolkun Isa, President of the World Uighur Congress.

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