Politics, Americas

US joins Turkey in decrying plight of Chinese Uighurs

US Embassy in Ankara voices support for Uighurs following Turkey’s call on China to close detention camps

Handan Kazanci   | 15.02.2019
US joins Turkey in decrying plight of Chinese Uighurs

By Enes Canli

ANKARA

The U.S. Embassy in Ankara joined Turkey on Friday in slamming China’s systematic assimilation policy towards Uighur Turks.

“The #USA agrees w/ @MFATurkey's assessment,” the embassy in Turkey said on Twitter, sharing a Turkish Foreign Ministry statement saying: “It is no longer a secret that more than one million #Uighur Turks incurring arbitrary arrests are subjected to torture & political brainwashing in internment camps and prisons.”

Last week, ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy called China’s assimilation policy towards Uighur Turks “a great embarrassment for humanity.”

Turkey urges Chinese authorities to respect the fundamental human rights of Uighur Turks and shut down the concentration camps, said Aksoy.

Earlier this week, Turkey's ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party spokesman Omer Celik said that Turkey respects China's integrity and security “but holding more than 1 million Uighur Turks in concentration camps and prisons is unlawful.”

China’s Xinjiang region is home to around 10 million Uighurs. The Turkic Muslim group, which makes up around 45 percent of Xinjiang’s population, has long accused China’s authorities of cultural, religious and economic discrimination.

China stepped up its restrictions on the region in the past two years, banning men from growing beards and women from wearing veils and introducing what many experts see as the world’s most extensive electronic surveillance program, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Up to 1 million people, or about 7 percent of the Muslim population in Xinjiang, have been incarcerated in an expanding network of “political re-education” camps, according to U.S. officials and UN experts.

In a report last September, Human Rights Watch accused the Chinese government of a “systematic campaign of human rights violations” against Uighur Muslims in northwestern Xinjiang, an autonomous region of the country.

According to the 117-page report, the Chinese government conducted “mass arbitrary detention, torture and mistreatment” of Uighur Turks in the region.

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