Turkey calls on China to close Muslim concentration camps

A file picture of  Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy.  Image: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images.

DHARAMSALA, Feb 11: Turkey has called on China to end the mass detention of Uighur and close Muslim ‘concentration camps’.

“The policy of systematic assimilation against the Uighur Turks carried out by the authorities of China is a great shame for humanity,” media reports quoted Foreign Ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy as saying in a statement on Saturday.

“It is no longer a secret that more than 1 million Uighur Turks incurring arbitrary arrests are subjected to torture and political brainwashing in internment camps and prisons,” he added.

The criticism from Turkey’s Foreign Ministry came after the death of a renowned Uighur poet and musician, Abdurehim Heyit in Chinese custody.

Meanwhile, Turkey has also called on the international community and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres “to take effective steps to end the human tragedy in Xinjiang.”

However, Beijing, as expected, has rejected the Turkish Foreign Ministry’s claims of the mass detention of the Uighur Muslims.

The Chinese Embassy in Ankara has reportedly called the remarks unacceptable and demanded Turkey “withdraw its accusations,” in a lengthy response posted online.

China has reportedly begun to construct a huge network of detention camps in the northwest of Uighur in 2017 where an estimation of over a million indigenous Uyghur and Kazakhs are currently being held in detention without trial.

While China says the detention camps equipped with high-tech network of surveillance systems are necessary to counter Islamic extremism, the huge numbers involved, and the detention of many Uyghur cultural leaders – writers and poets, academics and publishers, singers and comedians – suggest that the camps are designed to eradicate local languages and cultures to remould the region’s peoples as secular and patriotic Chinese citizens says Uighur expert ProfessorRachel Harris from School of Arts at SOAS, University of London.

Uyghurs in exile are now calling the situation a case of cultural genocide, she added.

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