Turkey’s Uighurs fear repatriation to China - NY Times

The community of China’s Muslim Uighurs who have sought refuge in Turkey amid Beijing’s crackdown, are increasingly concerned about their future in the country, which has been a long-favoured haven, the New York Times said.

“I am scared whenever the door opens,” the article quoted Ablet Abdugani, who has been living in Turkey for six years as saying. 

Abdugani is one of some 35,000 Uighurs who have called Turkey home after having escaped China’s crackdown. 

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 some 1 million Uighurs, a Turkic Muslim people. In these prison-like camps, Uighhur inmates are subject to physical and mental torture, among other violations. The crackdown has pushed many to leave the country with at least 11,000 arriving in Turkey in the last three years.

Turkey earlier this year deported at least four Uighurs to Tajikistan, from where, they were sent back to China, the NY Times said, sparking fear in the country’ s Uighur community.

The deportations arrive amid Turkey’s need for a Chinese boost for its ailing economy, along with other geopolitical factors pushing Ankara to maintain good ties with Beijing. 

Support for Uighurs by the Turkish public, however, has been strong. 

Hundreds of people took part in a march in Istanbul on Friday to protest China’s human rights violations against the group with some choosing unconventional methods to protest Beijing.

Many Uighurs in Turkey find themselves in a state of impermanence, the NY Times said, pointing to their denial work permits, business licenses, and in some cases permanent residence and citizenship. 

Turkey’s Uighur population fear that once their Chinese passports expire, they will be left effectively stateless, the article concluded.