Uighurs Stage Protest Outside Chinese Embassy in Turkey

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Ethnic Uighur demonstrators take part in a protest against China, in Istanbul last October.
Ethnic Uighur demonstrators take part in a protest against China, in Istanbul last October. Credit: Murad Sezer/Reuters

Dozens of Uighurs assembled near the Chinese Embassy in Turkey on Tuesday, demanding information about family members they fear are being kept in detention camps in China.

The protesters held photographs of relatives they say they have not heard from in months. More than a million Uighurs and other largely Muslim minorities have been swept into prisons and detention camps in China, in what China calls an anti-terrorism measure.

Police kept the protesters some 300 meters (yards) away from the embassy and also tried to prevent journalists from covering the protest. Four of the protesters were escorted into a police van, although police insisted they were not being detained.

Uighurs, a Turkic group native to China’s far west Xinjiang region, have sought refuge in Turkey for decades because of their shared cultural ties with the country. Turkey, however, has become less vocal about the plight of Uighurs in recent years as it has developed economic ties with China.

China recently ratified an extradition treaty with Turkey that was signed years ago, raising fears among the Uighur community that they could be sent back to the country they fled. Turkey has yet to ratify the agreement.

Both Turkish and Chinese authorities insist that the extradition bill does not aim to target Uighurs for deportation.

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