53.2 pct of Turks are against government’s Uyghur policy

A total of 53.2 percent of Turks don’t support the government’s Uyghur policy and think it hasn’t given an “appropriate response” to the Chinese treatment of its Uyghur Muslim minority in northwestern Xinjiang province, a survey conducted by pollster Metropoll has revealed.

While more than a majority of participants oppose the government’s current policy, 23 percent support it and 23.8 percent had no opinion.

Özer Sencar, the founder of Metropoll, underlined the attitude of people who support President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and his far-right ally, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP). According to the survey, 38.4 percent of MHP and 33.5 percent of AKP supporters think the Turkish government has given an appropriate response to China.

On March 10 a motion calling the Chinese treatment of its Uyghur Muslim minority in northwestern Xinjiang province “genocide” was voted down by the ruling AKP. Deputies from the MHP chose to abstain from the vote in parliament.

The motion was submitted by the right-wing opposition İYİ (Good) Party to Parliament Speaker Mustafa Şentop, asking the parliament to declare China’s actions against Uyghurs “genocide” in accordance with the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.

China’s treatment of the Uyghurs has drawn international condemnation, with human rights groups estimating that some 1 million Uyghurs have been arbitrarily incarcerated in a network of prison camps. There have also been reports of forced sterilization, systematic torture and rape.

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) denies committing atrocities and abuses against the Uyghurs despite a growing body of evidence.

Resolutions passed by the Dutch, Canadian and British parliaments called China’s repression of Uyghurs “genocide.”

The United States, the European Union, Britain and Canada imposed sanctions on several Chinese officials for human rights abuses against the Uyghurs living in China’s Xinjiang province in March.

As Ankara grows more economically dependent on Beijing, the Turkish government is no longer offering a safe haven or defending Uyghur rights. Genocide motions in Western parliaments have also been criticized by government and party officials.

The Uyghurs have sought refuge in Turkey for decades because of their shared cultural ties. Turkey, however, has become less vocal about the plight of Uyghurs in recent years as it has developed economic ties with China.

An estimated 50,000 Uyghurs are currently living in Turkey, making it the largest Uyghur diaspora in the world.

Uyghurs in Turkey not only worry about their families but also fear for their own safety as China recently ratified an extradition agreement with Turkey that was signed several years ago.

The Turkish government arrested members of the Uyghur diaspora in the country during the official visit of Chinese Foreign Affairs Minister Wang Yi to Ankara on March 25-26.

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