Ankara sending observation team for Uighur Turks of China's Xinjiang region

Turkey is preparing to send an observation team to China’s Xinjiang region, where Uighur Turks are reported to be facing violations that include mental and physical torture, Reuters reported on Tuesday.

The announcement came from the Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu who discussed the situation of Uighur Turks with his Chinese counterpart, it said.

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 detained Uighurs. Rights groups such as Human Rights Watch (HRW) has accused Beijing of conducting a mass, systematic campaign of human rights violations against the Turkic Muslims. 

Turkey is the only Muslim nation to have regularly expressed concern about the situation in Xinjiang, including as recently as February, when Ankara described the camps as a “great shame for humanity” and called on Beijing to close them. 

However, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was quoted by Chinese state television as saying that people China's Xinjiang region "live happily in China's development and prosperity," during an official visit to the country earlier this month.

An estimated 35,000 Uighurs live in Turkey, which has been a safe haven for them since the 1960s.