Turkey, World, Asia - Pacific

Turkey expresses continuing concerns over Uighurs

At UN General Assembly, Turkey says human rights situation of Uighurs in China continues to be concern

Merve Aydogan   | 07.10.2020
Turkey expresses continuing concerns over Uighurs

ANKARA 

Turkey has again expressed concerns over ongoing human rights violations in China's Xinjiang autonomous region, home to the ethnic Uighur community, Turkey's Foreign Ministry said Wednesday.

At the UN General Assembly, Turkey again urged that the cultural and religious identity of Uighur Turks be respected and guaranteed, in a national declaration this Monday to the UN General Assembly's Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian & Cultural Issues) which the ministry shared with reporters.

"We attach importance to the role of the UN in addressing the concerns and expectations of the international community regarding practices against Uyghur Turks and other Muslim minorities in Xinjiang," said the declaration.

Turkey's declaration stressed that relevant UN bodies play "an important role in recording the human rights situation in the region" while "making concrete recommendations."

Citing eight recommendations the UN Elimination of Racial Discrimination Committee gave to China in August 2018, Turkey said the concerns and recommendations the committee made are still applicable to this day and "necessary steps must be taken in this regard."

The declaration also underscored Turkey's respect for China's territorial integrity, and said "our country's well-known expectation from both the international community and the Chinese authorities is for the Uyghur Turks and other Muslim minorities in Xinjiang to live in peace and tranquility as equal citizens of China." 

"In addition, their cultural and religious identity should be respected and guaranteed," the declaration added.

Turkey's declaration also pointed to its ethnic, religious and cultural ties with Uighur Turks, and said "the human rights practices against Uyghur Turks and other Muslim minorities in Xinjiang in recent reports have made us particularly worried."

In its declaration, Turkey vowed to continue following up the matter of Uighur Turks and Muslim minorities in China at various international platforms such as the UN and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), and said it "will continue to direct and constructive dialogue with China on a bilateral level."

Turkey also said it expects "a meaningful, comprehensive and unrestricted visit to Xinjiang" by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and that "China will act transparently on this issue."

Separately, Foreign Ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy issued a statement on Wednesday saying Turkey "always follows the developments regarding our Uyghur brothers closely and with great sensitivity." 

Aksoy in his statement also said Turkey always includes "the fundamental rights and freedoms of Uyghur Turks and Muslim minorities" in its agenda and urged China to respect "the freedom of religion and belief."

Uighur issue

China has been widely accused of putting Uighurs into camps, and there have been reports of the forced sterilization of Uighur women.

Rights groups, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch (HRW), accuse Beijing of oppressing 12 million Uighurs in China, most of whom are Muslims.

A 2018 HRW report focused on what it said was a Chinese government campaign of "mass arbitrary detention, torture, forced political indoctrination, and mass surveillance of Xinjiang's Muslims."

Similarly, Amnesty International has published reports on a "campaign of mass internment, intrusive surveillance, political indoctrination and forced cultural assimilation," saying that the "true scope and nature of what is taking place in Xinjiang remains obscured."

Many Uighurs – around 1 million to 1.6 million, according to the World Uyghur Congress – have left China to live abroad.

China has repeatedly denied allegations that it is operating detention camps in its northwestern Xinjiang autonomous region, home to the Uighur community, claiming instead that it is "re-educating" Uighurs.

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