Turkey's Hypocrisy: Uighur People Detained and Harassed by Authorities in Istanbul

A group of Uighur protesters were detained in Istanbul by Turkish police for protesting against China's detention of their kinsmen in Xinjiang.

It is one of the biggest ironies in the geopolitics of today that Islamic nations criticize the Western world for 'Islamophobia' but completely desist from criticizing the treatment of Uighur Muslims by China. It seems Turkey, whose President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is often described as an 'Islamist' by his critics, has also become party to this hypocrisy.

On Monday, a group of Uighur Muslims gathered at Istanbul's famous Taksim Square to protest against the detention of their family members by Chinese government in Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region (XUAR). However, their protest was cut short by Turkish authorities who approached them and ended their gathering.

Uighur protesters
Uighur protesters in Istanbul Radio Free Asia

Police Action

The nine protesters at the Taksim Square were wearing T-shirts with the images of their relatives who have gone missing in Xinjiang printed on them. The police officials asked the demonstrators to delete the images and wear the shirts inside out to obscure the photographs printed on them.

"We posed for a photo in our T-shirts in front of the statue in Taksim Square when the police came and said we had to delete our photos, so we deleted them," Jewlan Shirmemet, the organizer of the protest, narrated the incident. "Later, when we were leaving, they told us we had to either take off the T-shirts or wear them turned inside out, and then they made us leave," he told Radio Free Asia.

Growing Sino-Turkish Relations

This zealous attempt on the part of Turkish government is another example of how the regime of Erdogan is becoming more obliged to the Chinese Communist government. While many Islamic countries have been hesitant to raise their voice against mass detention of Muslims in the North-Western province of China, Turkey proved to be an exception when Erdogan raised the issue in February of last year.

Xinjiang in China has witnessed mass detentions of Muslims Wikimedia commons

But a few months later, when he visited China later, he claimed that the Uighurs were living happily in Xinjiang. Furthermore, the Turkish President also submitted an extradition treaty with China to the country's Grand National Assembly for ratification. This treaty seems to be aimed especially at those Uighur expats who have fled to Turkey in order to avoid persecution.

There have been disturbing cases of Uighur refugees being sent back to China by Turkish government. Initially, the country had refused the demand for extradition of Uighurs wanted by Chinese government. But this stance too was overturned last year and several Uighur Muslims who had moved to Turkey were extradited back to China.

One of those unfortunate souls was a lady called Zinnetgul Tursun who also had her two infant daughters with her. The sister of Tursun now claims that she has disappeared after returning to China, an ominous occurrence in the Communist state.