Reports on Chinese practices in Xinjiang largely inaccurate, says Turkey’s Erdoğan
Many news reports on China’s alleged restrictions on Muslim Uighurs during the holy month of Ramadan do not reflect reality, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said, amid anti-Chinese demonstrations by Turkish nationalists over the treatment of the Turkic-speaking, largely Muslim minority in China’s Xinjiang region.
Delivering a speech at a fast-breaking dinner where he hosted ambassadors in the Turkish capital Ankara late on July 9, Erdoğan recalled that he was due to visit China in the coming days, and described the timing of recent incidents related to Beijing’s treatment of Uighurs as “meaningful.”
“We have kin in every corner in the world. From the Balkans to Central Asia, from Crimea to North Africa. All incidents, which take place in every single region, directly concern us. So claims about China’s pressure on our siblings in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region lead to sensitivity in our public,” he added.
“However, to a great extent the images and reports circulating in the media have made this sensibility prone to exploitation, deliberately or not,” Erdoğan said.
His words come amid a spike in attacks agains East Asian tourists in Turkey. Earlier on July 9, an Asian tourist was attacked by pro-Uighur protesters in Ankara as they assumed that she was Chinese.
Hours after Erdoğan delivered his speech, Thailand on July 10 closed its embassy and consulate in Turkey after a protest against its deportation of Uighur Muslims to China. The temporary closure of Thailand’s embassy in Ankara and consulate in Istanbul comes after anti-Chinese demonstrators stormed the latter, damaging furnishings and bringing down the sign outside. It was the latest protest in Turkey over the treatment of Uighurs.
“In Istanbul, although small, incidents that we never want to see and of which we never approve took place,” Erdoğan said.
“First of all, I want to point out that Turkey stands with the Uighur Turks in China as it stands with all of its siblings and kin. We voice distress about our siblings living in the Uighur Autonomous Region at the highest-level, and we will continue to do so. But the provocative incidents in Istanbul neither suit our hospitality nor are they a remedy for the troubles of our Uighur siblings,” he added.
“I call on the public to be careful on this issue. I request for people not to rise to the bait of provocateurs. Security of life and property of all of our East Asian guests, who come to our country for work, travel and living, is our honor,” Erdoğan said, while also urging Turkey’s security forces to be more careful on the issue.
On July 10, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said foreign countries’ missions in Turkey and their employees were Turkey’s honor and that they would always be protected, responding to a question over the attack on the Thai Consulate General in Istanbul.
“We can raise our voice against the injustice. But we have to be cautious against provocative reports. It is our honor to protect foreign missions. It is our honor to protect a foreign mission and its employees in Turkey. I tell all foreign missions and tourists in Turkey that they will be safe and secure here. We will not tolerate any unwanted incidents,” he added.
The Thai Embassy to Ankara said in a statement that they had temporarily closed the consulate general and visa office at the embassy.
“Our embassy is open under normal circumstances. Our consulate will restart its activities as soon as the situation in the embassy returns to normal,” said the statement, claiming that the embassy was not closed but not conducting visa consultations due to security reasons.