China Protests Over Turkey's Criticism of 'Re-Education Camps' for Uyghurs

12 February, 2019, 12:34 | Author: Sheila Harris
  • Uighur musician 'tortured to death in China camp', campaigners claim

Turkish media claimed he was tortured to death in a so-called re-education camp in China's Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region.

However, China responded on Sunday by releasing a video of Heyit which seemed to show him in good health, suggesting that reports of the poet's death may have been exaggerated.

But a spokesman from China's embassy in Turkey said the idea China was violating human rights was "totally inconsistent with the facts and are totally unacceptable to China". Turkey called China's treatment of the Uighurs a "great embarrassment for humanity".

Almost one million Uighurs and other Turkic language-speaking minorities in China have reportedly been held in re-education camps, according to a United Nations panel of experts.

So far few Muslim-majority countries have joined in public global condemnation of the allegations.

In a statement Saturday, Foreign Ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy said it's "no longer a secret" that China has arbitrarily detained more than a million Uighurs in "concentration camps".

A Turkish diplomatic source told Reuters that while it was naturally a positive development if the video was "true" and Heyit was alive, the main issue the Turkish foreign ministry addressed in its statement was the "heavy violations" of human rights in China.

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The famed poet and musician is a master of the dutar, a two-stringed instrument from Iran and Central Asia, and was reportedly sentenced to eight years in prison due to one of his songs.

Based on media reports, Turkey had slammed China for the alleged death of a Muslim Uighur musician Abdurehim Heyit who was reported to have died in a detention camp.

The northwest Xinjiang region of China, where most Uighurs live, has been under heavy police surveillance in recent years, after violent inter-ethnic tensions.

Wearing a black and white sweater over a collared shirt, he said he was in "good health" and has "never been abused", according to the subtitles. 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.

Magnus Fiskesjo, associate professor of anthropology at Cornell University, said the "manipulative" video appeared to have been released in a panic and bore a striking similarity to China's televised "confessions".

After months of denying their existence, Chinese authorities, under increasing outside pressure, acknowledged the camps, terming them vocational training centres.

"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".

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