Turkey demands China close camps after reports of musician’s death
ISTANBUL (BBC): Turkey has called on China to close its detention camps following the reported death of a renowned musician from the ethnic Uighur minority.
Abdurehim Heyit is thought to have been serving an eight-year sentence in the Xinjiang region, where up to a million Uighurs are reportedly being detained.
A statement from Turkey’s foreign ministry said they were being subjected to “torture” in “concentration camps”.
China described the comments as “completely unacceptable”.
The Uighurs are a Muslim Turkic-speaking minority based in the north-west Xinjiang region of China, which has come under intense surveillance by Chinese authorities.
Their language is close to Turkish and a significant number of Uighurs have fled to Turkey from China in recent years. So far few Muslim-majority countries have joined in public international condemnation of the allegations. Analysts say many fear political and economic retaliation from China.
What did Turkey say?
In a statement issued on Saturday, foreign ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy said: “It is no longer a secret that more than a million Uighur Turks exposed to arbitrary arrests are subjected to torture and political brainwashing” in prisons, adding that those not detained were “under great pressure”.
“The reintroduction of concentration camps in the 21st century and the systematic assimilation policy of Chinese authorities against the Uighur Turks is a great embarrassment for humanity,” Mr Aksoy said.
He also said the reports of Heyit’s death “further strengthened the Turkish public’s reaction to the serious human rights violations in Xinjiang” and called on UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres “to take effective steps to end the human tragedy” there.
Rights groups say Uighurs, Kazakhs and other Muslim minorities are being detained indefinitely without charge for infractions like refusing to give a DNA sample, speaking in a minority language, or arguing with officials.