Feb 11 2019

China accuses Turkey of “double standards” in row over treatment of Uighurs

Updates with Chinese Foreign Ministry statement

China on Monday blasted Turkey over what it said were Ankara's double standards on counter-terrorism after rejecting Ankara’s claims over its treatment of its Uighur people and denying reports that a prominent poet and musician from the ethnic Muslim majority had been tortured to death in prison, reported Qatar news outlet Al Jazeera.

“Turkey is also a multi-ethnic country facing the threats posed by terrorism,'' Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying said during a press conference whose text was published on Wednesday, in an apparent reference to the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), an armed group that has been in war in Turkey for over three decades. 

“If it adopts double standards on counter-terrorism, it will only end up hurting itself as well as others. We hope that the Turkish side could make unbiased and impartial judgments, correctly view and understand the relevant policies and efforts made by the Chinese side and take concrete actions to promote mutual trust and cooperation between China and Turkey,'' Chunying added.

Chunying's statements follow Turkish reports reports that 57-year-old renowned Uighur poet Abdurehim Heyit had died while serving an eight-year prison sentence, a claim which led state-owned China Radio International to release a 25-second video of the poet, dated Feb. 10.

"The Turkish side has made a very bad mistake, quite irresponsible," Chunying said, noting that Turkey's allegations were groundless.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson called Turkey's allegation of Heyit's death an "absurd lie" and China has filed a formal complaint and called on Turkey to reveal the source of its information, AP quoted Hua as saying.

"I'm now in good health and have never been abused," Heyit said, in the subtitled video.

"How could they say he was dead?" said Hua, according to Al Jazeera. "We hope the relevant Turkish persons can distinguish between right and wrong and correct their mistakes."

In a statement on Saturday, Turkey's foreign ministry pressed China to respect the human rights of the Uighur minority and close its camps.

"It is no longer a secret that more than one million Uighur Turks, who are exposed to arbitrary arrests, are subjected to torture and political brainwashing in concentration centres and prisons," Hami Aksoy, the spokesman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said.

"We invite Chinese authorities to respect fundamental human rights of the Uighur Turks and shut down concentration camps."