Turkey should have acted before the United States in imposing sanctions against China over Beijing’s mass oppression of its Muslim Uighur minority, a top official with the World Uyghur Congress said.
While the predominantly Turkic-speaking ethnic group is pleased with the sanctions imposed on China by Washington last month, they believe Turkey should have preceded the United States, World Uyghur Congress inspector general Abdülhakim İdris told Daktilo 1984 Youtube channel.
In June, U.S. President Donald Trump signed legislation calling for sanctions against those responsible for the repression of Uighur Muslims in China’s far western region of Xinjiang.
“This decision should have come from the parliament of Turkey, who we share a religion and nationality with,” Idris said, referring to Uighurs’ and Turks’ common linguistic, cultural and religious heritage.
Since ethnic riots in the region in 2009, China has increased police presence in Xinjiang and established what it calls re-education camps for some 1 million Uighurs. In these prison-like camps, Uighur inmates are subject to physical and mental torture, among other violations.
“There are people who are sent to camps just because they studied in Turkey. Moreover, entering the words Turk or Turkey into an Uighur search engine in China is seen as a security crime,’’ the Uighur official said.
Ankara, once a vocal critic of Beijing over their treatment of the minority, in recent years toned down its criticism of China’s treatment of Uighurs.
Last October, the Turkish government refused to join 23 nations in a joint statement calling on China to end violations against Uighur Muslims.
Turkey’s shift has been attributed to China’s increasing economic influence and expanding economic relations with Turkey on various infrastructure investment projects.