Turkey slams 'concentration camps' for Muslims in China
Story Code : 777198
"The policy of systematic assimilation against the Uighur Turks carried out by the authorities of China is a great shame for humanity," Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy said late Saturday.
The existence of internment camps was first brought up by the Western media which has been giving extraordinary attention to the subject in recent months amid a growing trade dispute with China.
A UN human rights panel has cited estimates that 2 million Uighurs and Muslim minorities were forced into “political camps for indoctrination” in the western Xinjiang autonomous region.
Beijing vehemently denies this as well as other reports that Uighurs are unfairly marginalized and says it is addressing underdevelopment and lack of jobs in heavily Uighur areas such as Xinjiang.
Chinese officials have also characterized the camps as “vocational education and employment training centers” for “criminals involved in minor offenses.”
China says Xinjiang faces a serious threat from Takfiri militants and separatists who plot attacks and stir up tensions between the mostly Uighur minority who call the region home and the ethnic Han Chinese majority.
Resource-rich and strategically located on the borders of Central Asia, Xinjiang is key to China’s growing energy needs.
The autonomous region is home to around 10 million Uighurs, accounting for 45 percent of Xinjiang’s population.
Estimates put Xinjiang’s coal reserves at about 38 percent of the national total, while it already produces 13 of China’s crude oil output and 30 percent of the country’s natural gas.
Turkey's response follows the death of Uighur poet and musician Abdurehim Heyit in custody.
"It is no longer a secret that more than one million Uighur Turks, exposed to arbitrary arrests, are subjected to torture and political brainwashing in concentration centers and prisons," Aksoy claimed.
“The re-emergence of concentration camps in the 21st century and China’s systematic assimilation policy toward Uighur Turks are great embarrassment for humanity,” he added.
A Human Rights Watch report last September accused the Chinese government of "mass arbitrary detention, torture and mistreatment" of Uighur Muslims.
In March 2017, Chinese President Xi Jinping called on military forces to erect a “Great Wall of Steel” around the restive region.