Ankara sending Uighur refugees back to China, ex-Turkish PM says

Turkey’s Future Party leader Ahmet Davutoğlu on Tuesday acknowledged that Ankara was sending Uighur refugees back to China. 

The former Turkish prime minister and one-time ally of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan made the remarks during a speech in the eastern province of Ardahan, while criticising the governing alliance between the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).

"There are reports in media that Turkey is conducting efforts to send 50,000 of our Uighur brothers and sisters to Tajikistan and from there to China,’’ Karar newspaper quoted Davutoğlu as saying during a congress for his new opposition Future Party

"This is a betrayal. Returning our Uighur brethren, who came to this land to escape the tyranny of China, would break our hearts and bring grief to these lands,’’ Davutoğlu said.

The Future Party leader said returning Uighurs to China was equivalent to turning them over to Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin, who was responsible for at least six million deaths starting from the 1920s.

Since ethnic riots erupted in the region in 2009, China has increased its police presence in the Xinjiang region, establishing what it calls re-education camps for some one million Uighurs. In these prison-like camps, Uighur inmates are subject to physical and mental torture, among other human rights violations.

Ankara, once a vocal critic of Beijing over their treatment of the Muslim Turkic minority, in recent years has effectively halted its criticism. Pundits attribute the change in stance to Ankara’s burgeoning economic ties with Beijing.

Moreover, the Telegraph reported on Sunday that Turkey helped China repatriate Uighur Muslims by sending them to others countries from which they can be extradited from by Beijing.