Turkey’s utmost priority is that Uighur Turks in China are treated well,” ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AK Party) spokesman Ömer Çelik said in a statement late Tuesday.
“We follow footage from region with concern,” he added.
“Only way to eliminate bad news coming from region is for China to end some of its unfavorable practices against Uighur Turks,” he said.
In a statement in late last year, Çelik also urged China to correct its policies. “A clear distinction must be made between terrorists and innocent civilians,” he said.
The Foreign Ministry also previously said that Turkey is concerned over the human rights situation in China’s Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, adding that Ankara expected Uighurs to be treated as equal citizens of China.
According to the ministry, a Turkish committee voiced Ankara’s concerns over Uighurs at the 75th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).
“While respecting China’s territorial integrity, the expectations of our country and the international community from Chinese authorities is that Xinjiang’s Uighur Turks and other Muslim minorities live in peace as equal citizens of China and that their cultural and religious identities are respected, as well as guaranteed,” the committee said.
It was stated that Turkey, as a country with ethnic, religious and cultural ties with Uighur Turks, is monitoring reports on human rights violations against the Uighurs and other Muslim minorities with concern.
Turkey reminded China of the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination’s (CERD) eight recommendations made in August 2018. “The committee’s concerns and suggestions are also valid today and steps have to be taken in this manner,” it said.
The statement said that Turkey would continue constructive and direct dialogue with China in this regard while following the issue on international platforms including the U.N. and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).
In a separate statement, the ministry stressed once again that Turkey placed high importance on the peace, security, happiness and welfare of the Uighur Turkic people. “Our country has a national line regarding this issue and made a national declaration within this scope,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hami Aksoy said.
Beijing’s policy in Xinjiang has drawn widespread criticism from rights groups, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch (HRW).
The region is home to 10 million Uighurs. The Turkic Muslim group, which makes up around 45% of Xinjiang’s population, has long accused China’s authorities of cultural, religious and economic discrimination.
Up to 1 million people, or about 7% of the Muslim population in Xinjiang, have been incarcerated in an expanding network of “political reeducation” camps, according to U.S. officials and U.N. experts.