Turkey’s prime minister called for an end to “savagery” in the western Chinese region of Xinjiang that has killed at least 156 people, including many minority Uighurs who share ethnic bonds with Turks.
“Our expectation is for these incidents that have reached the level of savagery to be rapidly stopped,” Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday.
Erdogan and Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu made separate calls to China to bring “those responsible to account” in a transparent manner.
“We are following the events with great concern, worry and sadness,” the prime minister said.
The reaction of the Turkish leaders echoed public anger in Turkey after local media and pro-Uighur associations suggested that most of the victims were Uighurs.
Several newspapers have printed gruesome images of dead people in the streets of Urumqi following the clashes, triggering protests outside Chinese diplomatic missions in Ankara and Istanbul over the past two days.
“The public conscience cannot accept these images,” Erdogan said, adding that Turkey would take the issue to the UN Security Council.
About 500 Turks — members of a civil servants’ union and a far-right nationalist group — laid black wreaths in front of the Chinese embassy before dispersing peacefully. A similar protest was held outside the Chinese consulate in Istanbul.
Also on Wednesday, a lawmaker from Turkey’s ruling Islamic-rooted party resigned from a Chinese-Turkish parliamentary friendship group to protest the Chinese government’s handling of the incidents.
A consumers’ group meanwhile called for a boycott of Chinese goods.
“We attach great importance to our friendship with China and we regard the Uighurs as a bridge for this friendship,” Davutoglu said.
Turkey regards the Uighurs as brethren and is concerned about China’s treatment of the minority group in the sprawling, far-flung western region of Xinjiang which has long been a source of trouble for China’s communist government. Turkey is home to a sizable Uighur community.