Istanbul mayor lends helping hand to Uighur community

The opposition mayor of Istanbul, Ekrem İmamoğlu, has assisted the city’s Uighur community in delivering documentation on missing relatives to the Chinese Consulate in Istanbul, the World Uyghur Congress said.

The Republican People’s Party (CHP) mayor intervened to help a group, which had been protesting their missing family members for 17 days in front of the consulate, the international umbrella organization promoting Uighur human rights said on Friday. 

The consulate was“forced” to accept some of the demonstrators’ documents on family members held in Chinese detention camps after an assistant to Istanbul Governor Ali Yerlikaya acted as a mediator, Washington-based Radio Free Asia broadcasting reported.

Turkey is home to an estimated 50,000-strong Uyghur community, a Turkic Muslim minority group.

The Chinese government is accused of maintaining a years-long persecution campaign against Uighurs, including the detention of up to a million of the 11 million population.

İmamoğlu on Tuesday vowed to do whatever he could as a mayor to help the Uighur community.

“Thank you for the mutual trust you showed to me during the meeting,’’ the Istanbul mayor said on Twitter. 

Once an adamant and vocal supporter of the Uighur diaspora, the Turkish government has in recent years has made a u-turn on the issue, a move that is being attributed to the burgeoning economic ties between Ankara and Beijing.