Turkey ponders extradition treaty over delayed China vaccine

China ratified on Sunday an extradition treaty with Turkey amid delayed Chinese vaccine delivery, Guardian reported on Tuesday.

The extradition treaty, signed in 2017, has already raised concerns over Uighur diaspora in Turkey as it urges foreign governments to deport Muslim Uighurs suspected of "terrorism".

Human rights groups warned it could endanger Uighur families and activists fleeing persecution by Chinese authorities if it is adopted by Ankara, Guardian said.

Dilxat Raxit, a spokesman for the German-based Uighur World Congress, said “We call on the Turkish government ... to prevent this treaty from becoming an instrument of persecution…Beijing is exerting economic pressure on Turkey to ratify the treaty, Guardian reported.

Ahval speculated first that China could bargain the treaty for its sales of coronavirus vaccine in Turkey, something that may force Turkey to deport Uighurs, a report in similar content followed by Arab News. China has already delayed delivery of the first shipment of the Sinovac vaccine to Turkey.

Meanwhile, Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca announced that the first shipment of the Sinovac will soon be received by Turkey. ‘’Aircraft carrying the first part of our inactivated vaccine took off from Beijing airport at 19:50 Turkey time. We expect them to arrive here tomorrow morning’’, Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said in a statement on Twitter on Tuesday.

Since ethnic riots in Xinjiang in 2009, China has increased the police presence in the region and established what it calls re-education camps for around 1.5 million Uighurs, a Turkic Muslim people.

In these camps, Uighur inmates are subject to physical and mental torture, among other violations, according to some media reports. The crackdown has pushed many to leave the country. An estimated 50,000 Uighurs have sought refuge in Turkey from repression in China.

In July, The Telegraph documented several cases in which Turkey had sent Uighurs to third countries like Tajikistan, where it is easier for China to secure their extradition. 

Uighur activists are still pleading with Turkey not to go ahead with the extradition treaty.

The extradition treaty was signed in 2017 but has not been ratified by the Turkish Parliament. The treaty is at the commission level.