President Erdoğan to Bahçeli: Turkey's doors always open to Uighurs

NURBANU KIZIL
ISTANBUL
Published 28.06.2015 15:02
Updated 28.06.2015 16:24
emAA Photo/em
AA Photo

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan dismissed claims put forth by Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli through his Twitter account saying that nobody pays attention to the suffering of Uighur Turks in East Turkistan, while he criticized the latter for not paying any attention to the Uighurs during his tenure as deputy prime minister.

"Everybody talks about Kobani, but nobody mentions the Chinese brutality in East Turkistan," Bahçeli said on his Twitter account.

Bahçeli accused the Turkish government of being insensitive towards the suffering of people with Turkic origins.

Speaking at an iftar dinner on Saturday night, President Erdoğan dismissed Bahçeli's allegations and said that Turkey has always kept its doors open to the Uighur Turks.

"Did you ever visit the Uighur Turks in East Turkistan? No you didn't. But Tayyip Erdoğan did." said the Turkish president, who underscored that Turkey has accepted and conferred Turkish citizenship to hundreds of Uighur Turks who fled Chinese persecution.

"How many Uighurs did you accept –as citizens- when you served as a deputy prime minister?" Erdoğan asked Bahçeli.

In January, Turkey has accepted over 500 Uighur Turks, who sought refuge in the country.

East Turkistan, known as the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, is located in northwest China. Uighurs have long suffered from human rights abuses, with 26.3 million people being killed between 1949 and 1965 and 8.7 million people since 1965.

About 35 million people have died because of the Chinese army's oppression or famine. Wearing a headscarf in public, including on public transportation and when getting married in a religious ceremony, were banned in 2014, with fines of about $353 for wearing a headscarf in public.

Radical behavior is banned and the Chinese define not drinking alcohol, not smoking and avoiding eating non-halal food as radical behavior.

According to a Uighur Human Rights Project report, 700 people were killed due to political activities last year. The number of those arrests increased 95 percent compared to the previous year, reaching 27,000.

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