China has been accused of detaining Uighurs in camps under a mass campaign of political indoctrination and forced cultural assimilation. Human rights groups accuse the government of forcefully sterilising Uighur women.

Ethnic Uighur demonstrators at a protest against China, in Istanbul, Turkey. October 1, 2020.
Ethnic Uighur demonstrators at a protest against China, in Istanbul, Turkey. October 1, 2020. (Reuters)

Turkey has expressed concerns over ongoing human rights violations in China's Xinjiang autonomous region, home to the ethnic Uighur community.

In a national declaration to the UN General Assembly's Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian & Cultural Issues), Turkey urged that the cultural and religious identity of Uighur Turks be respected and guaranteed. 

"We attach importance to the role of the UN in addressing the concerns and expectations of the international community regarding practices against Uighur Turks and other Muslim minorities in Xinjiang," Turkey’s Foreign Ministry told reporters on Wednesday, citing the declaration which was made on Monday.

Turkey’s declaration stressed that relevant UN bodies play "an important role in recording the human rights situation in the region" while "making concrete recommendations."

Citing eight recommendations the UN Elimination of Racial Discrimination Committee gave to China in August 2018, Turkey said the concerns and recommendations the committee made are still applicable to this day and "necessary steps must be taken in this regard."

READ MORE: Thousands of mosques demolished in Xinjiang

READ MORE: China expanding detention centres in Xinjiang

'Equal citizens' 

The declaration also underscored Turkey's respect for China's territorial integrity, and stated: "Our country's well-known expectation from both the international community and the Chinese authorities is for the Uighur Turks and other Muslim minorities in Xinjiang to live in peace and tranquillity as equal citizens of China."

"In addition, their cultural and religious identity should be respected and guaranteed," the declaration added.

Turkey's declaration also pointed to its ethnic, religious and cultural ties with Uighur Turks, and said: "The human rights practices against Uighur Turks and other Muslim minorities in Xinjiang in recent reports have made us particularly worried."

READ MORE: Global fashion brands 'complicit' in Uighur forced labour

READ MORE:  Secret documents reveal how China mass detention camps for Uighurs work

In its declaration, Turkey vowed to follow up the matter of Uighur Turks and Muslim minorities in China at various international platforms such as the UN and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), and said it "will continue to direct and constructive dialogue with China on a bilateral level."

Turkey also said it expects "a meaningful, comprehensive and unrestricted visit to Xinjiang" by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and that "China will act transparently on this issue."

Mass internment

China has been widely accused of putting Uighurs into camps, and there have been reports of the forced sterilisation of Uighur women.

Rights groups, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch (HRW), accuse Beijing of oppressing the 12 million Uighurs in China, most of whom are Muslims.

A 2018 HRW report focused on what it said was a Chinese government campaign of “mass arbitrary detention, torture, forced political indoctrination, and mass surveillance of Xinjiang’s Muslims.”

Similarly, Amnesty International has published reports on a “campaign of mass internment, intrusive surveillance, political indoctrination and forced cultural assimilation,” saying that the “true scope and nature of what is taking place in Xinjiang remains obscured.”

Many Uighurs – around 1 million to 1.6 million, according to the World Uyghur Congress – have left China to live abroad.

China has repeatedly denied allegations that it is operating detention camps in Xinjiang, saying instead that it is “re-educating” Uighurs.

READ MORE: US imposes sanctions on major Chinese paramilitary body in Xinjiang

Source: AA