After China’s ratification on December 26 of an extradition treaty with Turkey, Ankara wished to reassure, on Wednesday, December 30, members of the Uighur community exiled in Turkey. Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said the country would not return Uighurs to China.
The concern was strong among this Muslim community, of which tens of thousands of people have taken refuge in Turkey. Notably because the Chinese government wanted to use this text to speed up the return of certain Uighurs, accused of “Terrorism”. Mr. Cavusoglu clarified: “It is incorrect to say that [la ratification par Pékin] means that Turkey will send the Uighurs back to China. This only applies to guilty people [de crimes]. ”
“Turkey has not applied these measures”
This extradition treaty, signed in 2017, has not been ratified by the Turkish Parliament. “In the past, there have been requests for the removal to China of Uighurs from Turkey. Turkey has not applied these measures ”, added the Turkish Foreign Minister.
The country has linguistic and cultural ties with the Uighurs, Muslims speaking a Turkic language. Ankara has long been one of the main defenders of their cause, while China has initiated a policy of maximum surveillance of the Uighurs in the Xinjiang region (north-west). Beijing holds the Uighur separatist and Islamist movement responsible for numerous deadly attacks committed against civilians.
In addition to their permanent surveillance, the Uighurs are interned in what Beijing calls “Vocational training centers” and are subjected to forced labor, especially in the textile industry of Xinjiang province.