A group of Uighur Muslims travelling to Turkey’s capital to make a press statement protesting China’s persecution of Uighurs was not allowed to enter the city on Monday night and told to return to İstanbul, Turkish media reported.
Police claimed that the group, which consisted of some 15 adults and four children, was a threat to the “public order.” In a brief video message shared on the Twitter account of Uygur Haber (Uighur News), the group’s spokesperson said the Chinese government will not be able to silence them.
Two of the demonstrators talked about the plight of their loved ones in China. A woman said: “They have taken and convicted my uncle and two aunts to 15, 19 and 25 years’ imprisonment without even a trial. I came here to talk about their suffering, but they won’t let me enter Ankara.” According to a Uighur youth, his father was killed in China only because he had come to Turkey. He also said he can’t get any news from his mother or his siblings.
Last July, in a report by the Middle East Eye, Turkey had been accused of deporting Uighur Muslims back to China via third countries that neighbor the western Chinese province of Xinjiang, where hundreds of thousands are said to be held in concentration camps, according to a report by the Middle East Eye.
Uighur Muslims who spoke to the UK’s Sunday Telegraph newspaper had said they feared their relatives had been taken to Tajikistan before they were extradited to China.
In a tweet on Tuesday the Turkey Youth Union (TGB), a youth group aligned with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s ultranationalist ally Doğu Perinçek, shared the news with the message, “Turkey has not allowed the separatist campaign of ‘Uighur provocateurs’! Uighur separatists who went from İstanbul to Ankara to engage in anti-Chinese propaganda were sent back by the police.”
Türkiye, 'Uygur kışkırtıcılarının' bölücü kampanyasına izin vermedi!
İstanbul'dan Ankara'ya Çin karşıtı propaganda yapmak için giden Uygur bölücüleri polis tarafından geri gönderildi. pic.twitter.com/dQTDaKMI5F
— TGB (@genclikbirligi) September 8, 2020
Turkey has historically been a safe haven for Uighurs, a Turkic minority, fleeing religious persecution in China since the 1960s, with thousands living in cities across the country.
While Ankara has criticized Beijing over its treatment of Uighurs, Turkey was not among the 22 countries that called for an investigation into abuses inside China at the United Nations Human Rights Council in July.