China Denies Mistreatment Of Uighurs Amid Turkey’s 'Shame For Humanity' Call For Closure Of Concentration Camps

Fuad Muxtarlı Media Roundup 11 February 2019
China Denies Mistreatment Of Uighurs Amid Turkey’s 'Shame For Humanity' Call For Closure Of Concentration Camps

Official Ankara has condemned China's treatment of its Muslim ethnic Uighur people as "a great cause of shame for humanity" and asked it to close the "concentration camps". In a statement on February 9, Turkish foreign ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy blamed China for arbitrarily detaining over a million Uighurs.

Hami Aksoy said the Turkic Muslim population faced pressure and "systematic assimilation" in western China. "It is no longer a secret that more than one million Uighur Turks, who are exposed to arbitrary arrests, are subjected to torture and political brainwashing in concentration centers and prisons," Aksoy said.

Turkey blasted China after reports claimed that Uighur poet and musician Abdurehim Heyit died in prison after torture. However, China denied the report of death of the poet and posted a video, in which, Abdurehim said in Uighur: 'I am in good health and have never been abused.'

The musician was rumored to have died on the weekend which prompted Turkey to put out a statement condemning the mass detention of Uighurs in China's far-western region of Xinjiang. China then released a video message from Heyit saying he was in good health and in the custody of authorities after 'allegedly violating national laws'. His body language and choice of words seem to suggest he is under duress. Heyit was sentenced to eight years in prison for one of his songs,” according to Guardian. https://bit.ly/2N6GdNL)

"We invite Chinese authorities to respect fundamental human rights of the Uighur Turks and shut down concentration camps," he said. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had once accused China of "genocide" but has since established closer diplomatic and economic relations with Beijing. 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 Chinese authorities of cultural, religious and economic discrimination.

Practicing Islam is forbidden in some parts of China, with individuals caught praying, fasting, growing a beard or wearing a hijab, a headscarf worn by many Muslim women who feel it is part of their religion, facing the threat of arrest.

Chinese Response

China's embassy in Ankara posted a lengthy response to Aksoy's statements, saying that the accusations were false and urged the government to retract them.

"Allegations that the Chinese government is attempting to 'eliminate' the ethnic, religious and cultural identity of Uighurs and other Muslims are completely groundless," it said.

Kenneth Roth, the executive director of the US-based Human Rights Watch group, praised Turkey's move on Twitter. "This is a big deal: [Turkey is] The first Muslim-majority country to criticize China so directly for its horrendous treatment of Uighur Muslims, and one of the most powerful Muslim-majority countries at that," he tweeted on Sunday.

"Now [is the] time for other governments to join Turkey," he added.
China's crackdown on Uighur people has made headlines around the world. In August last year, a United Nations panel of experts said it had received credible reports that over a million Uighurs and other Turkic language-speaking minorities were being held in so-called "re-education camps" where they are made to renounce Islam.

Beijing denies Uighurs are being held against their will and says these are "voluntary" vocational training facilities, designed to provide job training and to stamp out "extremist" tendencies.

China has intensified a security crackdown on Uighurs that was put in place after a bloody 2009 riot. Droves of Uighurs have fled, many travelling to Turkey.

Last month, China passed a law to "Sinicize" Islam and make it "compatible with socialism" within the next five years. But most Muslim-majority countries have not been vocal on the issue, not criticizing the government in China which is an important trading partner. China passes law to make Islam 'compatible with socialism'.

New decree seeks to 'guide Islam', as crackdown against Muslims and Islamic symbols continues.

China has passed a new law that seeks to "Sinicize" Islam within the next five years, the latest move by Beijing to rewrite how the religion is practiced.
China's main English newspaper, Global Times, reported on Saturday that after a meeting with representatives from eight Islamic associations, government officials "agreed to guide Islam to be compatible with socialism and implement measures to Sinicize the religion."

The newspaper did not provide further details or the names of the associations that agreed to the decree.

China has embarked on an aggressive "Sinification" campaign in recent years with faith groups that were largely tolerated in the past seeing their freedoms shrink under Chinese President Xi Jinping, China's most powerful leader since Mao Zedong.

Practicing Islam has been made forbidden in parts of China, with individuals caught praying, fasting, growing a beard or wearing a hijab, a headscarf worn by Muslim women, facing the threat of arrest.

According to the UN, more than one million Uighur Muslims are estimated to be held in internment camps where they are forced to denounce the religion and pledge allegiance to the officially atheist ruling Communist Party.

Rights groups have accused China of engaging in a campaign of ethnic cleansing. In August, a Washington Post editorial said the world "can't ignore" the campaign against Muslims.

Islamic crescents and domes have been stripped from mosques, and according to the Associated Press news agency, religious schools and Arabic classes have been banned and children barred from participating in Muslim activities.

China has rejected the criticism, saying it protects the religion and culture of its minorities. However, in the past week alone, authorities in China's Yunnan province, which borders Myanmar, have closed three mosques established by the marginalised Hui Muslim ethnic minority, the South China Morning Post has reported.