By Aldgra Fredly
January 4, 2023
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu attends a joint press conference with his Russian counterpart following their talks in Moscow on March 16, 2022. (Maxim Shemetov/Pool/AFP via Getty Images)
China ‘Disturbed’ by Turkey’s Support for Uyghurs: Turkish Minister
The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is “disturbed” by Turkey’s support for Uyghurs, one of China’s largest Muslim minorities, as Turkey refused to extradite Turkic Uyghurs to China, a Turkish official said on Dec. 29.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said that claims about Turkic Uyghurs being extradited to China were “a total lie” and that Ankara will not cave to Beijing’s pressure, even if it hurts their bilateral relations.
“Turkish-Chinese ties have suffered over Beijing being disturbed by our attitude on the Turkic Uyghurs issue,” he told reporters in Turkey’s capital city of Ankara, Middle East Monitor reported.
“They have extradition requests for people who are our citizens, who live in Turkey all the time. Therefore, we don’t grant any such requests,” Cavusoglu added.
Cavusoglu cited a 2022 United Nations report, detailing abuses allegedly committed by the CCP against Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in Xinjiang, which it states amounted to crimes against humanity, and called for immediate action from the international community.
Ethnic Uyghur women take part in a protest against China, in front of the Caglayan Courthouse, in Istanbul, Turkey, on Jan. 4, 2022. (Dilara Senkaya/Reuters)
“We defend Turkic Uyghurs’ rights in the international arena, and this disturbs China. But this is a humanitarian issue,” he noted.
Cavusoglu claimed that the Chinese authorities had blocked the Turkish ambassador from visiting the Uyghurs in the Xinjiang region and demanded that he adhere to a “program that they provide.”
The foreign minister said Turkey wants to cooperate with China in a transparent manner.
“Why should we become a tool for China’s propaganda? We want to cooperate. We don’t see this as a political issue,” he said.
“We are categorically not anti-Chinese. We have always said that we support the ‘One-China’ policy.”
50 Countries Condemn China
A perimeter fence surrounds a forced reeducation center in Dabancheng, Xinjiang region, China, on Sept. 4, 2018. (Thomas Peter/Reuters)
Turkey was one of 50 countries that signed a joint statement at the U.N. General Assembly on Oct. 31, 2022, urging the CCP to uphold its human rights obligations and release those who are “arbitrarily deprived of their liberty” in Xinjiang.
The United States, Japan, the United Kingdom, Australia, Germany, and Israel made up the largest group of countries to publicly condemn the Chinese regime’s ongoing human rights abuses.
The signatory countries urged Beijing to promptly release all detained individuals in Xinjiang, urgently clarify the fate and whereabouts of missing family members, and facilitate safe contact and reunion.
“Such severe and systematic violations of human rights cannot be justified on the basis of counterterrorism,” the joint statement reads.
UN Votes Down Debate on Uyghurs
Leaders from the United States, UK, and Canada called for a debate on the CCP’s suppression of the Uyghurs and other minorities in Xinjiang after a U.N. report documented possible crimes against humanity in the region.
“The extent of arbitrary and discriminatory detention of members of Uyghur and other predominantly Muslim groups … may constitute international crimes, in particular crimes against humanity,” the report says.
“Serious human rights violations have been committed [in Xinjiang] in the context of the Government’s application of counterterrorism and counter-‘extremism’ strategies.”
Despite widespread concern about the U.N. report on the situation in Xinjiang, the U.N.
Human Rights Council voted 19–17 against the motion for a debate, with 11 nations abstaining. It is only the second time in the council’s 16-year history that a motion has been rejected.
Reuters and Andrew Thornebrooke contributed to this report.