Turkey calls China’s treatment of its Muslim ethnic Uighur minority ‘a great cause of shame for humanity’.
“It is no longer a secret that more than one million Uighur Turks, who are exposed to arbitrary arrests, are subjected to torture and political brainwashing in concentration centres and prisons,” Aksoy said.
“We invite Chinese authorities to respect fundamental human rights of the Uighur Turks and shut down concentration camps,” he said.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had once accused China of “genocide” but has since established closer diplomatic and economic relations with Beijing.
China’s Xinjiang region is home to around 10 million Uighurs. The Turkic Muslim group, which makes up around 45 percent of Xinjiang’s population, has long accused Chinese authorities of cultural, religious and economic discrimination.
Practising Islam is forbidden in some parts of China, with individuals caught praying, fasting, growing a beard or wearing a hijab, a headscarf worn by many Muslim women who feel it is part of their religion, facing the threat of arrest.
China’s embassy in Ankara posted a lengthy response to Aksoy’s statements, saying that the accusations were false and urged the government to retract them.
“Allegations that the Chinese government is attempting to ‘eliminate’ the ethnic, religious and cultural identity of Uighurs and other Muslims are completely groundless,” it said.
Kenneth Roth, the executive director of the US-based Human Rights Watch group, praised Turkey’s move on Twitter.
“This is a big deal: [Turkey is] The first Muslim-majority country to criticise China so directly for its horrendous treatment of Uighur Muslims, and one of the most powerful Muslim-majority countries at that,” he tweeted on Sunday.
“Now [is the] time for other governments to join Turkey,” he added.