April 21, 2019
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Turkey urges China to close Muslim Uighur internment camps

Istanbul, Feb 10 (efe-epa).- The Turkish government on Sunday called on the Chinese authorities to close the internment camps in the region of Xinjiang in which people of Uighur Muslim minority are allegedly imprisoned for their beliefs, according to the foreign ministry's statement.

During recent years, numerous Uighur citizens, who primarily practice Islam and speak a Turkic language, have sought refuge in Turkey for the political persecution they suffered in China.

"We invite the Chinese authorities to respect the fundamental human rights of Uighur Turks and to close the internment camps," the Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman, Hami Aksoy, said in a statement.

Turkey's foreign ministry said that the statement was released: "in response to a question regarding serious human rights violations perpetrated against Uighur Turks and the passing away of folk poet Abdurehim Heyit."

Recent reports say that Heyit, who was a famed Uighur poet and musician, died because of "brutal torture" after he was arrested by the Chinese authorities and imprisoned for years.

"It is no longer a secret that more than one million Uighur Turks incurring arbitrary arrests are subjected to torture and political brainwashing in internment camps and prisons," the statement added. "Uighurs who are not detained in these camps are under heavy pressure," the statement added.

"The reintroduction of internment camps in the 21st century and the policy of systematic assimilation against the Uighur Turks carried out by the authorities of China is a great shame for humanity," the Turkish official said.

Aksoy also added accused China of trying to wipe out cultural identities and religion with its policies.

"Our kinsmen and citizens of Uighur origin living abroad cannot get news from their relatives in the region," he expressed. "Thousands of children have been removed from their parents and became orphans."

Earlier in the week, 16 non-governmental organizations called on the United Nations Human Rights Council to open an investigation about the alleged detention of one million Uighur in the Xinjiang region, in northwest China along the border with Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Mongolia.

Several human rights groups have denounced Beijing's treatment of the ethnic and religious minority.

Turkey has also expressed concern for the welfare of ethnic Tartars, another Turkic language speaking group located on the Crimean Peninsula, which was annexed by Russia in 2014.

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