China rejects Turkey criticism on Uighur re-education camps

Uighur musician 'tortured to death in China camp', campaigners claim

"Allegations that the Chinese government is liquidating the ethnic, religious and cultural identities of Uighurs and other Muslim communities are totally baseless, " the statement concludes.

In a statement released on Saturday, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hami Aksoy said it's "no longer a secret" that China has arbitrarily detained more than a million Uyghurs in "concentration camps".

"China's systematic assimilation policy towards Uighur Turks is a great embarrassment for humanity", Anadolu Agency quoted Turkey's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) as saying.

"On this occasion, we invite the Chinese authorities to respect the fundamental human rights of Uyghur Turks and to close the internment camps", he said.

Turkey's foreign ministry on Saturday severely criticised China's mass detentions of its Turkic-speaking Uighurs, and claimed that poet Abdurehim Heyit had died while serving a sentence of "eight years in prison for one of his songs".

"This tragic incident has further strengthened the Turkish public's reaction to the serious human rights violations in Xinjiang region".

HRW said China has not responded positively to these requests. Heyit's death could not be independently confirmed.

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China's embassy to Turkey said on Sunday that the vocational education program in China's remote northwestern Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region is part of the government efforts to combat terrorism and extremism and dismissed as "false" the claims that it had set up a re-education labor camp to purge the area's ethnic minority. "We are opposed to maintaining double standards on the question of fighting terrorism", said the statement, attributed to an embassy spokesman.

"The Turkish side has made a very bad mistake which is quite irresponsible".

Beijing has intensified its clampdown on what it labels terrorism in the region, following a 2009 riot in Xinjiang capital Urumqi that killed hundreds.

Amid the clampdown, multitudes of Uighurs have fled, many traveling to Turkey, where the language and culture are similar to those in Xinjiang. They have provided little or no information on how many are interned within them and how long they are being held.

The dustup over Turkey's criticism contrasts with the close economic relationship between the two countries.

According to worldwide human rights organisations, Uighurs, Kazakhs and other Muslim minorities were being detained in camps on frivolous charges like refusing to give a DNA samples, using minority language or arguing with government officials. The draft resolution stresses "deep concern with the violence and excessive use of force by Venezuelan security forces against unarmed, peaceful protesters".

"Turkey called on the worldwide community and the United Nations secretary general, António Guterres, "to take effective steps to end the human tragedy in Xinjiang region".

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