Mon, Feb 11, 2019 - Page 1 News List

Turkey blasts China’s treatment of Uighur Muslims

‘CAUSE OF SHAME’:A Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman said the death of a famed Uighur musician and poet had further reinforced Turkish public opinion on the matter

AP, ISTANBUL

Turkey has called China’s treatment of its minority Uighurs “a great cause of shame for humanity.”

It is “no longer a secret” that China has arbitrarily detained more than a million Uighurs in “concentration camps,” Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Hami Aksoy said in a statement on Saturday.

The Turkic Muslim population faced pressure and “systematic assimilation” in western China, he said.

Turkey has shared with China its position on “all levels,” and urged authorities to close the detention facilities and respect human rights, Aksoy said.

Turkey had also learned of the death in prison of famed Uighur musician and poet Abdurehim Heyit, who had been sentenced to eight years over one of his songs, the minister said.

“This tragedy has further reinforced the reaction of the Turkish public opinion toward serious human rights violations committed in the Xinjiang region,” Aksoy said.

“We expect this legitimate response to be taken into account by the Chinese authorities. We respectfully commemorate Abdurehim Heyit and all our kinsmen who lost their lives defending their Turkish and Muslim identity,” Aksoy said.

Heyit was a master of the dutar, a type of two-stringed instrument with a long neck that is found in Iran and throughout Central Asia. His detention was considered indicative of China’s determination to crack down on Uighur intellectuals and cultural figures.

Heyit’s death could not be independently confirmed.

China’s embassy in Ankara called Aksoy’s comments “completely unacceptable” in a lengthy response posted on its Web site that defended its policies in the northwestern region of Xinjiang, the Uighur homeland.

“Both China and Turkey face the arduous task of fighting terrorism. We are opposed to maintaining double standards on the question of fighting terrorism,” said the statement, attributed to an embassy spokesman.

“We hope the Turkish side will have a correct understanding of the efforts made by China to legally deploy measures to effectively fight terrorism and extremism, withdraw its false accusations and take measures to eliminate their harmful effects,” it said.

Beijing has intensified a security clampdown on Uighurs that was put in place after a bloody 2009 riot. Droves of Uighurs have fled, many traveling to Turkey, where the language and culture are similar to those in Xinjiang.

After months of denying their existence, Chinese authorities under increasing outside pressure acknowledged the system of camps, terming them vocational training centers.

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