Uygurs in Turkey demand release of relatives held in China
In protest against the Chinese government’s persecution of Uyghurs in Xinjiang, dozens of members of the Uyghur community living in Turkey staged a demonstration near China’s Consulate General demanding the whereabouts of their family members who have been held in Chinese ‘re-education’ camps.
The protestors said that they have not heard from their family members for years due to Beijing’s systematic campaign that involves confining members of the ethnic minority in concentration and forced labour camps in China.
The group’s spokesperson Salih Emin called on the global community to raise their voice against crimes against humanity and take action to stop Uyghur persecution.
“The Chinese government does not want human rights organizations to investigate [the situation] in the country because they’re afraid of [the situation there]. The massacre there is true and they [China] don’t want the world to know about it,” Emin said.
Emin also called on the Turkish Foreign Ministry to meet with the Chinese government to help them get in touch with their families.
During the rally, many carried East Turkistan’s flags and held up banners reading: “Chinese Government Release My Innocent Family Members,” “China, Where is My Son?” “Where are My Brothers?” and “Uighurs Need Your Support.”
“I’ve been unable to communicate with my family since 2015. … We’ve learned that some of my family members were sent to concentration camps,” said Habibe Omer, one of the protesters.
“Just hear our voice!” she asked in an emotional tone.
“We demand those who were in the concentration camps to be released immediately,” said Abdullah Resul, another protester.
Burhan Uluyol, an academic at Istanbul Sabahattin Zaim University, was also among the protesters, said: “Cruel China has arrested my father, mother, brothers, uncles and nephews. They’ve been under arrest for four years. We’re here to be their voice.”
Last year, Uighurs held rallies for 18 days outside the Chinese Consulate General in Istanbul demanding information on their families’ well-being after not being able to contact them for years.
A 2018 Human Rights Watch report detailed a Chinese government campaign of “mass arbitrary detention, torture, forced political indoctrination, and mass surveillance of Xinjiang’s Muslims.”
Earlier, United Nations spokesperson Stephane Dujarric called for a visit of the High Commissioner’s for Human Rights to the Muslim-majority Chinese region of Xinjiang, after a British media house report alleging systematic rape in so-called re-education camps.