Turkey urges China to shut down Uighur camps

Turkey’s foreign ministry has called on China to close its minority Uighurs camps, calling them “a great cause of shame for humanity,” state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy in a statement Saturday said it’s “no longer a secret” that China has arbitrarily detained more than a million Uighurs in “concentration camps,’’ while highlighting that China’s Turkic Muslim population is facing pressure and “systematic assimilation” in the west of the country.

China is accused of turning the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region into “a massive internment camp,” with "at least 800,000 and possibly up to a couple of million" Uighurs and others being held in detention, according to the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor at the U.S. Department of State.

China however, denies the charges, calling them “re-education” camps for vocational training.

Uighur people are subject to intense surveillance; are made to give DNA and biometric samples; learning Mandarin Chinese and criticising or renouncing their faith, according to Human Rights Watch.

Turkey has shared its concerns with China on “all levels” and urged authorities to close the detention facilities and respect human rights, Aksoy said.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in the past accused China of “genocide,” however has since established closer diplomatic and economic ties with Beijing. 

A bloody riot in 2009 led to the China’s increased security crackdown on Uighurs, which number around 9 million in the country.