China Denies Turkish Claim That Uighur Poet Died in Xinjiang
(Bloomberg) -- China pushed back against Turkish claims that a Uighur poet and musician had been tortured to death in a Chinese prison.
The Chinese embassy in Turkey said in a statement that the poet, 57-year-old Abdurehim Heyit, had been arrested for suspected crimes violating state security and was in good health.
State-owned China Radio International released a brief video clip of Heyit dated Feb. 10. “I’m in the process of being investigated for allegedly violating the national laws,” he said in the video, framed by a gray backdrop. “I’m now in good health and have never been abused.”
Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a briefing Monday in Beijing that the video proved Heyit was alive. “The Turkish side has made a very bad mistake, quite irresponsible,” she said. “How could they say he was dead?”
Over the weekend, Turkey demanded Chinese authorities respect the human rights of the Muslim Uighur minority and close “concentration camps” imprisoning them.
More than 1 million Uighurs are being tortured and “politically brainwashed” in camps and prisons in China, Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy said in a statement on the ministry’s website Saturday.
“The re-emergence of concentration camps in the 21st century and China’s systematic assimilation policy toward Uighur Turks are great embarrassment for humanity,” Aksoy said.
Turks held small protests in cities nationwide to condemn China’s human rights violations against Uighurs, Turkey’s state-run news agency Anadolu reported Sunday.
The detention and “re-education” of as many as 1 million Uighurs in far west China has been condemned by human rights groups and prompted calls for sanctions from U.S. lawmakers, who reject China’s assertion that the camps are voluntary education centers that help purge “ideological diseases.”
Turkey calls on other countries and United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to take steps to end the “humanitarian tragedy” in Xinjiang, Aksoy said.
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