Turkey is urging China to close its ‘concentration camps’ following the reported death of a famous Uighur musician and poet.
The Foreign Ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy called the nation’s treatment of the ethnic minority ‘a great cause of shame for humanity’. He said it was ‘no longer a secret’ that the Turkic Muslim population are facing pressure and ‘systematic assimilation’ in western China.
The minister also stated that said Turkey had learned of the death of Abdurehim Heyit, who was imprisoned after receiving a sentence of eight years over one of his songs. Mr Aksoy said: ‘This tragedy has further reinforced the reaction of the Turkish public opinion towards serious human rights violations committed in the Xinjiang region.’
He continued: ‘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.’ Mr Heyit’s death could not be independently confirmed.
The dutar-player’s incarceration had been considered indicative of China’s determination to eradicate the Uighur language and identity by cracking down on high-profile cultural figures.
China’s embassy in Ankara demanded Turkey withdraw its ‘false accusations’ and called Mr Aksoy’s comments ‘completely unacceptable’.
A lengthy post on the embassy’s website defended its policies in the north-western region of Xinjiang, the Uighur homeland, and said both China and Turkey ‘face the arduous task of fighting terrorism’. ‘We are opposed to maintaining double standards on the question of fighting terrorism,’ a spokesperson said.
They continued: ‘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.
Beijing has intensified a security clampdown on Uighurs in the northwestern region of Xinjiang that was put in place after a bloody 2009 riot.
Droves of Uighurs have fled, with many travelling to Turkey, where the language and culture are similar to that in Xinjiang. After months of denying their existence, Chinese authorities finally acknowledged their system of camps following increasing outside pressure.
The nation is accused of locking away more than one million Muslims, surrounded by watch towers and wire fencing. However, the country has claimed the camps are vocational training centres, stating that people attend voluntarily to combat extremism.
But former detainees have described being tortured, forced to drop their Islamic beliefs and having their children taken away and placed in orphanages. The Chinese authorities have provided little or no information on how many people are inside in the camps or for how long they will be held.
source: METRO UK