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China retaliates after Turkey’s claims about Heyit

BEIJING (BBC): China has railed at Turkish claims it is mistreating its Uighur minority, after a dispute about the fate of a prominent musician.

Turkey cited reports Abdurehim Heyit had died in a detention camp, and called China’s treatment of the Uighurs a “great embarrassment for humanity”.

China then released a video allegedly showing Mr Heyit alive.

The Uighurs are a Muslim minority in north-western China who speak a language closely related to Turkish.

They have come under intense surveillance by the authorities and up to a million Uighurs are reportedly being detained. A significant number of Uighurs have fled to Turkey from China in recent years.

China has asked Turkey to revoke its “false” claims. A Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman said the musician was “very healthy”.

“We hope the relevant Turkish persons can distinguish between right and wrong and correct their mistakes,” spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters.

The video was released by China Radio International’s Turkish-language service, which said Turkey’s criticism of China was unfounded.

Dated 10 February, the video features a man said to be Mr Heyit stating that he is in “good health”.

The musician appears to say he is “in the process of being investigated for allegedly violating national laws”.

He gives the date of the video and says he has “never been abused”.

The man is wearing civilian clothes, and is speaking the Uighur language.

Turkey foreign ministry had said that detained Uighurs were being subjected to “torture” in “concentration camps”.

Foreign ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy said the reports of Mr Heyit’s death “further strengthened the Turkish public’s reaction to the serious human rights violations in Xinjiang”.

China has described the comments as “completely unacceptable”.

Meanwhile Nury Turkel – chairman of the US-based Uyghur Human Rights Project – told the BBC that some aspects of the video were “suspicious”.

Mr Turkel says China has the technology to doctor the footage and said it was “their responsibility to prove the video is authentic”.